This woman wants to help you save money this Christmas, and beyond

Arese Ugwu hopes her book The Smart Money Woman motivates other women to plan and save their money better.

(CNN)What to do when you're a single mom with a one-year old and a lot of financial burden? Write a blog about being more savvy about money, of course, and then a book too.

Lagos-based Arese Ugwu, who blogs about finances at, said she's combined her love of the TV show "Sex and the City" with her business acumen from her days working in financial services to write entertaining but practical advice in her book called The Smart Money Woman.
After Ugwu's marriage ended, she realized she wasn't saving and investing enough. "So I'm thinking, if I work in financial services and I earn money and it's hard to save, then what about others?" She noticed a massive gap in the educational financial market in Nigeria, and decided to write her book.
    "It's Sex and the City but in a very African context," said Ugwu, whose book tells the story of five Nigerian women and how they go through their journey to financial freedom.
      Arese Ugwu's book hopes to help smash cultural stereotypes about how women and money function in an African context, she says.
      Though her advice transcends all nations and demographics, she is particularly interested in helping fellow Nigerians break out of old-fashioned ways of thinking that hold many women back, saddling them with financial burdens.
      For example, in Nigeria, it's common for one child to have the responsibility of working to support their family, put siblings through school and pay for their parents, explains Ugwu.
      Another common cultural pressure is for a woman to think marriage will bring her financial freedom. "This whole idea about marriage as the end-all be-all, and the issues with that, the cultural and societal pressures, needs to be discussed."
        In the lead-up to the often expensive Christmas season, here are some of her practical tips to help make next year more financially astute.

        Budget -- set aside something each month

        The celebratory Christmas period is when so many people tend to overspend. It's essential to plan ahead, says Ugwu, know what you'll need to spend, and go into shops with a budget.
        Many people see money in their account at the end of the month as money they're entitled to spend. Everyone should articulate their plans in order to make them a reality and learn how to allocate limited resources, advises the former wealth manager.
        One of the keys to financial freedom, says Ugwu, is learning to set aside a bit every month.
        In Nigeria, where rent is paid yearly, it's particularly important to plan.
        One of the biggest criticisms Ugwu has had with the book is readers have questioned why her characters in the book earn so much but they're still broke. "That's the point. Even these middle class people are living from paycheck to paycheck, so I really wanted to address that issue," she said. "It's as much about how much you're able to keep versus what you earn."

        Every little bit helps

        "There's a huge misconception that if you earn a decent income it means you're rich," warns Ugwu. "We judge people here (Nigeria) on their spending habits. We're very obsessed with the whole story of the boy from the hood who makes it."
        The reality though, she says, is that for the majority of people in Africa who get to that middle class, there's no narrative of what you do with that money when you get there. "Most people think their resources aren't enough to save. I'm trying to frame the conversation that if you can't find a way to save and invest with a little, you won't know how to when you have a lot."

        Know what's yours (or not) before it's too late

        Estate management is a funny business for many in Africa, admits Ugwu. "We're very superstitious about our wills. We have this cycle of families, whether wealthy or not, when the breadwinners dies, there's no structure in place."