Meet Lady

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So February 5th this year, my siblings were up late chatting with my mom when we talked about possibly getting a puppy. We went online to Denver Dumb Friends League and saw that they had 3 Australian cattle dog that were just 11 weeks old and decided it was fate.

The next day we headed to Denver, and by the time we got there there were only 2 of the 3 left. Plus, this family that was there before us were looking at the same little puppy, Darcy. Now I had nothing against getting a boy dog–I just had never had one before and didn’t know much about raising a boy puppy. Donnie, Darcy’s brother, was so adorable and I honestly fell in love with them both. After my sister and I had met both puppies, we went out to meet with the volunteers who told us the family before us decided to take Donnie.

At that point it was getting real to me that I was going to be responsible for a tiny little bundle of joy all on my own, but any apprehension disappeared when that 8 pound bundle of energy was in my arms. Darcy–now Lady–and her two siblings were rescued somewhere in Texas at a month old, and they were all adopted on February 6th.

Now the name Lady wasn’t planned or thought out at all. I, actually, used to call everyone that: “Hey, lady?” or “What’s goin’ on, lady?” And I think, because I’m a 90’s baby, the name Lady was always an option because of Lady and the Tramp. I’m not exactly sure of my thought process… We just started calling her Lady and she responded right away. Game of Thrones wasn’t even a factor until after we named her when my younger brother and I attempted to watch the whole series from start to finish before the last season came out.

Before I got my own puppy, I was not necessarily what they would call a “dog person,” but dogs definitely had a place in my heart. As I sit here writing this with Lady next to me on the couch, I can full-fledged say that I am an obsessive dog mom. She is my child. She is my pride and joy. She is my best friend.

Looking back, it was definitely not the right time for me to get a dog. BUT, if you wait for the perfect time to do anything, it will never come. I am so lucky to have made that spur-of-the-moment decision that day because it was the best decision I’ve made in my life.

This is my girl now–almost 8 months old.

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What’s your best puppy advice? Comment and let me know!

XO,

Sonja

Back and Better than Before

So for all of you who started following my blog two years ago when I first started it, I want to apologize for taking a hiatus. When I first began my blog, I thought I would have a lot more time on my hands. Turns out, I just sucked at managing my time. I last blogged April of last year, so it’s been over a year since you have heard from me. During this time, I changed jobs, had some heartbreak, traveled a ton, and really got my sh*t together.

By that last part I mean I have finally began to live the life I love. This includes so much from getting a puppy to being more diligent with time management. Of course, both go hand-in-hand and have really improved my quality of life. It started with a random decision to get a puppy that lead to adopting the cutest Australian cattle dog just hours later. I don’t know if any of you have puppies, but I had no idea what I was in for. Just the lack of sleep due to trying to make sure she wouldn’t have an accident inside the house was shocking enough to me. That’s when I decided to create a daily routine that I could commit to.

I started waking up early and working out early and walking my dog early every day. My mom always says, “When you start your day off with something so challenging, the rest of the day is gravy.” That always makes me laugh, but it is so true. I am so much more productive with my day when I get it started earlier and with physical activity. It’s crazy how one good habit can change your life in such a powerful way. Sometimes we need to work from the outside in to better ourselves.

Like I said before, a lot has happened in the past year, but I am building upon those experiences to improve myself. One of my mantras is “grow through what you go through.” Every experience you have can be learned from whether it is good, bad, or out of your control: you learn how to overcome the obstacles and ride along with the successes.

SO, after making some changes and doing some soul searching, I’m back and better than before.

XO,

Sonja

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Trust Actions Over Words

Some people might think its ridiculous, but I am such a sucker for self-accountability when it comes to relying on others. Absolutely trust people and have faith in people, but have your own back first. Stop being shocked when someone continues to do the same things they have always done.

People are always so surprised when they are let down by someone when, in fact, they have been consistent in their behavior. By “people,” I mostly mean me. I know, I know: practice what you preach. BUT, it is so hard for me to not have faith in people. I am a trustworthy person, so I automatically assume everyone else is as well. So, I have to remind myself daily, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou really hit the nail on the head with this one because we can’t assume someone, who once proven untrustworthy, will somehow be someone trustworthy on another occasion.

I’ve found this quote to help me most when it comes to negative attributes and outcomes as a result to interactions with others, but it is also true in the opposite affect. People who have proven to be reliable time and time again or are there for you consistently are probably reliable people who have earned your trust. That being said, if someone has something come up, or it’s a one-time situation, I don’t think trust should be thrown to the wayside at all.

Yes, people change and I have learned to have faith in people even when they haven’t been reliable in the past; however, the only person you can truly change is yourself. If another person has made their own efforts to change their patterns of behavior, believe that new pattern and let their growth and their actions speak for themselves. Don’t let who a person used to be keep you from seeing who they are becoming.

Furthermore, we must take a look at our own actions. Am I holding myself accountable? Am I keeping my word and being reliable? Who is the person I am presenting myself as to others?

Think of how it made you feel when someone let you down… Would you want to make anyone feel that way? The answer is likely no. So, don’t be that person yourself. It’s easy to say what goes around comes around, but that isn’t always the case. You could be a nice, honest, and trustworthy person, but you hang around with people who have that horrible pattern of unreliable behavior.  What people don’t realize is you have a say in who is in your circle. You can’t solely rely on being a good person to attract other good people–you have to choose your people wisely.

So, when people show you who they are, believe them!

 

Xoxo,

Sonja

What do I want to be when I grow up?

When I was growing up, I thought I’d become a lawyer, financial analyst, stock broker, or really anything big in the corporate world. Now that I’m an adult and actually trying to pursue some type of long lasting career, I am more sure that I don’t want to be sitting behind a desk working for someone else’s big paycheck. I want to be my own boss. Now it’s not always easy starting your own business or even finding what you want to do, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Here are a few questions I asked myself in an effort to find what I want to do and figure out how I can begin that process:

  1. What’s one thing you’ve wanted to do in your wildest dreams? Actually, my mom asked me this so I can’t quite take the credit. My answer was be a famous musician. Everyone I’m sure has had that weird Carrie Underwood dream where one minute you’re a regular person and the next you win a huge talent competition and your life is never the same. Not only do you become a famous musician and get to make money doing what you love, people pay you to endorse their products! Better yet, you can create your own products. PLUS, you already have a fan base and that will most likely be your customer base. Badda boom badda bing: INSTANT MILLIONS.
  2. Is this anything you can actually attain? In this scenario, the answer isn’t necessarily yes, but I’m still young so you never know. So while I wait for Simon Cowell to sign me to his label, there has got to be something I can do in the meantime.
  3.  What can you do in the meantime? Again, Momma Hoff gets credit for this question. She wanted to know if there was something I can do now to get experience in customer service and buying in case the music career I’ve never tried to develope takes off. That’s when I thought of creating an online business that I could do part time where I don’t have to design or create. I can just buy and market.
  4. What has worked for other people? What research needs to be done? In this case, it’s easy to find so many different ways to create an online business. Ask your peers, ask your friends, ask your family. Then, read online reviews and watch webinars. Tune in for 20 minutes to find out how some guy in Oklahoma made five grand in his first two weeks by just selling graphic tee’s he thought were funny. I did some middle of the night research and found something that I think will work.
  5. Are you willing to put in the work? If the answer to this question was no, I wouldn’t have started this post. I think the idea of creating something on my own sounds wonderful, but hours of work might sound less appealing. In this case, I’ve just been having fun—learning new websites, shopping for things to sell, organizing sales. It’s like I’m creating an online store for things I’d like to buy for myself or I could see my friends wearing. Que the passion.

Although one day I’d like to be putting on clothes with my name on the tag, I’m already having so much fun with this new project. And if it doesn’t make me my millions, at least I’ll learn a little more about the industry.

What are your favorite things to shop online?

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Traveling with less than $500

I am the queen of attempting to cancel trips when they are already booked and flights are paid for. The reason is, I get freaked out by the idea I may not be able to do everything that my friends will want to do or I will run out of spending money before the trip ends. Here’s how I made a weekend in San Francisco happen with $500:

  1. Find an awesome group to travel with. This is something that kind of is trial-and-error because you really don’t know what people will be like while traveling. I’ve found it’s important to talk about trips beforehand and know you all have a common goal of wanting to have a great time without breaking the bank. Also, it’s important to have a group that knows (and is respectful enough) to split things evenly. That goes for cab rides, rounds of drinks, excursions, or other adventures–make sure you are with people pulling their own weight. I had a great time with my friends from high school in San Francisco and we kept everything even with the amount we all spent on Ubers or rounds of drinks.
  2. Book flights on promos! I once had a flight attendant friend who said the Tuesday three weeks before you fly is the best time to buy flights. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, but I do keep up with checking websites and get e-mails from Southwest whenever they have discounted flights! I just love flying Southwest because you get two free bags, can choose where you sit, and you can get smokin’ deals. My flight round trip to San Francisco was about $160.
  3. Try staying at a Hostel! I have expert travelers as best friends, and they encourage me to step out of the box when it comes to ways of travel. We stayed at a hostel in downtown San Francisco for about $40 a night. Because there were four of us traveling, we were able to get our own room at the hostel which relieved some of the anxiety I had about staying in a hostel. If you aren’t traveling in a group, I noticed that if you’re in a room with four bunks, they have lockers that you can lock underneath the bunks that will fit a suitcase or a bag checking system at the front desk. That was one of my main concerns knowing that its a dorm-like hotel situation. We had no issues with our bags being stored with the front desk or in our room. Our hostel included breakfast and had a full service kitchen available most of the day, as well. That was very convenient as we were able to save the money on the first meal of the day. The trip was short and we didn’t get to use the kitchen, but it would have been useful if we weren’t doing so many touristy things. As great as it was, it wasn’t the easiest stay either. The hardest thing about staying at a hostel was finding the perfect timing with the closest available shower. We, again, lucked out and had a bathroom right outside our room that was rather large so we could share as if the four of us had just stayed in our own private hotel, but it did pose as a difficulty when we were in a rush getting ready for our friends wedding. But, once the showering was done we were able to share a couple small mirrors and finish our hair and makeup. All in all, it was a great experience. The thing I was most skeptical about ended up being the one thing we didn’t have to worry about at all.
  4. You don’t have to do it all in one trip. It’s so exciting arriving to a new place and getting into the vacation mode, so I tend to over do it. That wasn’t the case for this trip, though. We took things into our own hands when it came to seeing the city and walked around a ton! We went to North Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Coit Tower to name a few. I definitely wouldn’t recommend the walk from downtown to Coit Tower, but it’s just a short cab ride away. We, also, had lunch at the Boudin Bakery & Cafe to have some of their famous clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. It was really the simple things and the views that made this trip spectacular.
  5. Ask the locals where to go! As a group of extroverts, it was easy striking up conversations with locals we encountered to get recommendations on where to go and what to do. If anyone knows about affordable nightlife, it’s the bartenders who work and go out in that area. We found some really interesting bars hidden on steep alleyways and met some very fun and interesting people along the way.

Overall, I spent $80 on a hostel, $160 on airfair, and about $60 on Ubers. With all of that I had about $200 in spending money, which was more than enough! Yes, it was a short trip, but there was nothing that I missed out on because of my tight budget.

I love to travel, but I can’t take a five star vacation every time there is an occasion to travel. Hopefully, these tips will enable you all to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank the next time you’re able to get away.

What are your favorite vacation spots? How do you save money while traveling?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

XO,

Sonja

How do I save without being too frugal?

So recently I’ve began getting into saving a ton. At the same time, I’m trying to pay off debt and I️ have so many vacations planned it’s hard to think that savings is an option!–especially being a bartender with an unpredictable income.

Here are some steps I’ve taken to make my savings account grow and grow the last two months, and it’s (mostly) the same process that helped me save $6000 before starting college:

  1. Know what your bills are every month and how much you are spending with disposable income. I️ have an excel workbook that I️ have documented my finances in the last 5 years that has held me accountable/make me realize when I’ve been going overboard with spending.
  2. What you’re spending shouldn’t match what you’re makingI’ve cut costs down when I️ realize I’ve gone over my “going out” budget or spent a little too much Black Friday shopping. Also, if you’re spending more than you’re making (yes, I’m talking about that Capital One with amazing cash back) notice and realize you do have to pay back on your debt. That’s something I️ didn’t have to worry about in my teens but do now in my twenties.
  3. Not all debt is bad! I️ mentioned the cash back Capital One card because that is one I️ have and it’s helped me so much when in a pinch or traveling and has treated me so well with cash back opportunities! Use your credit cards when you know you’ll still be able to pay more than the minimum balance to pay it off!
  4. Budget/plan for bills to be higher than expected. Utilities and cell phone bills can bounce up and down from month to month, so it’s better to plan for the bill to be on the higher side. And, hey, if it ends up being lower you can take yourself out for a cocktail or even transfer the extra to savings!
  5. Save WHILE you pay off debt! The two processes are not mutually exclusive. I️ try to put half of what I️ make in savings, but that’s not always realistic. After moving back in with my parents, I️ re-budgeted and realized that I️ could save more… or I️ could pay off more debt. I️ upped my payments on–well–everything to ensure I️’m molding my credit into a homeowner-with-a-good-interest-rate’s credit. If that hinders the amount I’m saving, it’ll still be beneficial in the long run.
  6. Need only apply to service industry workers… I️ said I️ put half of the money I️ make into savings. That means after a long day of work, I️ schlep over to the bank and deposit money into my account and transfer half into savings (if I️ can). Yes, big things come up or you’ve got a cash flow issue—I️ just write it down to remind myself I️ owe my savings that extra $78. Now, to avoid this, it helps to have a couple hundred un-spoken for dollars in your checking account for just-in-case situations. Also, on the off chance you get a paycheck on top of your tips, throw that (or at least a portion) into your savings as well–you weren’t expecting that money anyway!
  7. Hold yourself accountable to your savings! I️ realize half of a persons income is not going to be realistic for every person to do, so find a specific amount or percentage that you think is reasonable. For the last year and a half, I️ predicted my income and estimated all of my bills and realized it was only reasonable for me to save 30% of my income because bills were higher. Don’t make your finances so tight you can’t enjoy a night out or a weekend away. Aka, treat yoself!
  8. Know when to bring out the savings. I’ve had so many unexpected things come up this year that you will hear about in future blogs. Anyway, its hard to plan for a large hospital bill, a car repair, or needing time off work for any reason. This is where your savings comes in handy. I’ve been trying to save for a house, but at the same time I’ve had to take time off work for an injury, I’ve had to take trips on a short notice, I’ve been hospitalized for strep twice, and I’ve moved. All of this happened in the last two months and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dip into my savings to keep things afloat as everything seemed to happen at once. In other words, savings are useful for emergencies!
  9. Decide what you are saving for! Obviously, you want to grow a cash cushion for emergencies, but you also have other things that you have to budget for. Whether it be a trip to Europe, a new car, a new house, or a new business opportunity, there is some place you are allotting that money. Define your goal, find out exactly how much you need of cold hard cash to reach your goal, and that number can be your financial savings goal.
  10. What’s a cushion? I’m not talking about furniture. I’m talking about how much you can realistically have there in case something catastrophic were to happen. A lot of people have a credit line for this purpose, but it’s always better to have the cash in an emergency than to borrow it. My mom has always said that you should have six months of living costs in savings while in your twenties in case anything comes up–and eighteen months if you have a family. Again, not always realistic and many people have other resources. It’s just your safest bet to make sure you have yourself covered before buying that new sports car.

What kind of projects and adventures are you saving for? How has saving money helped you reach your personal goals?

Would love to hear your feedback on this piece! It’s worked for me so hopefully it will help any of you!

XO,

Sonja

Practical Gift Giving on a Practical Budget

I’ve seen so many blog posts about how to gift during the holiday season… but none of them really appeal to my sense of efficiency and generosity. I️ want to spoil everyone! At the same time, I’m paying off debt, saving for a house, and getting ready for a tight budget (January through March are very tight for those of us in the service industry).

That being said, I️ don’t want to gift anything to someone they may or may not use. I️ recently moved and found a bag of Christmas presents that remained untouched since last year. Many of them were white elephant gifts or parts of gift baskets—don’t get me wrong, they were all items I could have found a use for but didn’t somehow. So this got me thinking… this year I️ only want to gift things that I️ know will be used!

Usually I’d go for a big extravagant gift basket that includes those items from above. And I️ love nothing more than watching people I️ love opening something they really enjoy! However, this year I’m taking a different approach.

I’m one of 6 children and my siblings are my best friends. This year with a new niece or nephew on the way and the first grandchild turning one as well as everyone moving and new adventures beginning, we’ve talked about a gift exchange that works for all of us. It’s simple: drawing names. This way we could each only buy one present that suits the person we are buying it for and is something we actually want. Just an idea so that we don’t end up overspending.

Now, what I really want to get into are gifts that I’m very excited to give this year!

  1. Buy services that you know someone will love. My close friends and I️ are doing the name drawing process I mentioned. We did this last year and it was an absolute success! Now, what I️ love to do is buy a handful of massage certificates. It’s that time of year where everyone is thinking of everyone else and staying up longer or working longer hours to make they’re holidays the most special. People tend to put themselves on the back burner and what better than a massage to bring them back to life with the new year! My massage place does a two day special where they do hour massage certificates at an extremely discounted rate! I️ LOVE THIS OPPORTUNITY! I️ get to spoil my friends without breaking the bank. Other things exchanged for services were nail certificates for a manicure/pedicure, waxing certificates, lash services, and facials/spa days. Now the massage is still my favorite because it’s great for any gender, but I can tell you that all of those services were absolutely used!
  2. Wine and gift card pairs! Obviously, know your audience. If a friend or family member wouldn’t drink wine, no need to worry! I’ve done a bottle of Cabernet with a Starbucks gift card or a bottle of Breckenridge Bourbon with a Ted’s gift certificate. You can pair these in nice creative ways and easily tie them together with a bow. It’s so fun and the better you know the person and get them something specific to what they love, the better use it is to them! Obviously, it depends on how much each item costs but this gift pairing will usually cost between $50 to $100.
  3. Amazon electronics! Now these are easier to buy when Amazon has their amazing promotions, but a fire stick, echo dot, speakers, or head phones are all extremely useful things that I’ve found to have used in my life! Not to mention I’ve found all of these on Amazon for under $40! I️n today’s techie era, these gifts are received well and are a practical luxury item your friends and family might want but not actually buy for themselves!
  4. Over useful gag gifts! I️ have a close friend who always asks for ChapStick so I️ went and bought and absurd amount of ChapStick and wrapped it up nicely to make her laugh, but she still is never without ChapStick currently! So it was a perfect gift!
  5. Something sentimental! This is my favorite kind of gift to give because it’s something that says, “you are worth my time AND my effort.” I️ took one of my moms book titles two years ago and made it into a painting that I based on a picture of her on the beach the year she survived a freak health issue. I️ get it, not everyone is artsy or has a background as specific to go off nor the actual time to do something like that, but that same year I️ gifted my dad a blown up and framed picture that is the only picture of my parents and the whole Six Pack (we love Kenny Rodgers). He loved it and hung it up on his wall at his shop. Again, something that he could do himself but now doesn’t have to AND he gets to see all of our faces everyday he walks into work!
If you try any of these out, comment how it turned out! What are your favorite gifting ideas? And who are you struggling to buy for this year?
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
XO,
Sonja

Welcome to Simply Sonja

Hello, everyone!

Thanks for taking a minute to join me in this new blogging adventure! My name is Sonja Hoff. Currently, I live in Parker, CO and am working as a bartender. I’ve lived here since 2004 and have had such a great time learning about and living in the Centennial state. In an attempt to reach some of my goals, I’ve decided to start a blog about my day to day life and my overview of small victories becoming greater adventures!

Goal 1: create a blog! ✔️ Stay tuned for some comedy and how-to’s!

XO,

Sonja

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