Meet Ana! She proves that you can work in public service (i.e. nonprofit/government) *and* still build a financially thoughtful life you love! She’s doing good, while doing well!

Ana serves as Assistant Director of the Village of Key Biscayne’s Parks and Recreation Department (yep, Miami’s own Leslie Knope!) and is responsible for operating the Key Biscayne Community Center. She cares deeply about civic leadership, community engagement, and municipal government.

Ana at work!  Working at a park = Super. Fun. Job! 

Ana at work!  Working at a park = Super. Fun. Job! 

She’s also passionate about living a financially thoughtful life.

Thanks to her first job at a shopping mall food-court, Ana began investing in mutual funds at the age of 15. Wha?!

During college, she lived at home and continued working and saving while she pursued her B.A. in Economics (not acquiring debt thanks to her good grades and test scores...thanks, Florida Bright Futures Scholarship). Determined to keep living a debt-free life while she went to graduate school, Ana searched and found the National Urban Fellows program. She applied and was awarded full-tuition plus a $25,000 stipend to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration at City University of New York.


What’s motivated you to be so financially thoughtful?

My family’s history of impulsive financial choices led me to make very deliberately thoughtful financial choices that granted me the freedom to pursue the things I most care about including public service and travel. I learned from an early age that I could best provide for myself.

I live very intentionally below my means -- I drive a 20 year-old car that I’ve owned for 14 years and owned a flip phone back when everyone else was moving to a smartphone.

Ana car.jpeg

I think it’s important for people to figure out what they really value and live life accordingly. I value financial security, independence and freedom. Without it I would be very anxious. That’s why I live my life the way I do, but it’s not for everyone. I get immense pleasure from being frugal and finding deals.

I feel proud and fortunate that I’ve been able to save enough to buy property -- being a landlord is the type of “side hustle” that works for me. I’m not an innate “entrepreneur” and don’t enjoy sales… I prefer stability, consistency and predictability (hence my career as a local government administrator). I am positioning myself and my family to have more financial freedom than we would have by only investing in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.


What app, tool, or resources have you been using recently that’s made your life a little easier?

I’m not a big techie. Honestly, the Outlook calendar is my best friend. I use it to set reminders for all kinds of things, including events, appointments, paying bills, changing air filters, etc. I have a pretty bad memory so the Outlook calendar keeps me on track in many ways.

If you met a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give her?

Accept and be happy with who you are, even when you feel isolated, lonely or inadequate. You have a clear and thoughtful plan for the things you want to accomplish in life. Don’t let the people who criticize you or make fun of you get under your skin. Trust your intuition and you will achieve the personal and professional successes you imagined.

There are three principles that have always been important to me: be intentional, be persistent and be generous. Those values have guided me to where I am today.