This is the last of my 10 money saving strategies- we'll get back to the home reno stuff very soon!
I find that a lot of people are just so obsessed with how much money they can make. Which is good, to a point. (there's nothing wrong with being rich and don't ever let anyone tell you there is!) But the most important part of your salary isn't how much you make, it's how much you can keep and how far you can stretch what you've got.
I'd highly recommend that you have a good CPA or financial planner, or both in your life. Figure out what you can hang on to and what you're gonna need later. That will put you so far ahead of the game.
Because of the way that the military is paid, only a portion of our income is taxable, which is a pretty sweet deal. If I were to go out and get a "real" job with a "real" salary, I'd push us into the next highest tax bracket and actually cost us money by working and having to put the kids in daycare.
I do work, and I do get paid- here's how: I do several different things...I sometimes write web copy for a company out of Las Vegas...most notably, a very cheesy catalog description of a black bikini ;) I take surveys, I test new products before they're released, and I refinish and sell furniture. I do focus groups- and there's something really satisfying about telling someone their commercial sucks before it airs!!! It isn't mortgage money, but on the worst month, it still pays for diapers. Sometimes I even make enough that it pays all of the bills associated with our munchkins. I once got a Wolfgang Puck multi-cooker in exchange for testing out certain recipes and writing a review. The thing retails for 249.00 and our crock pot was on the fritz, so that was awesome! Most web-based companies (textbroker, surveyhead, valuedopinions, opinionoutpost) offer several different formats of payment. I will take a certain portion of my earnings in cash, some in Macy's gift cards (free/cheap way to clothe everyone) and some in Amazon promo codes. If we're honest, most of us can be a little cavalier with cash, which is why I like having the promo codes and the gift cards. When I get the Macy's cards, I stick them in a drawer until there's a sale, then whomever needs clothes gets to use them. It works well for us. Again, our system isn't going to work for everyone, but finding that sweet spot where you make enough to cover your needs and most of your wants without having to pay taxes on it is a nice place to be.
If you check out any of the websites I've listed, you'll probably think, "wow, the pay sucks!" And that is partially true. It took about a year of doing the crappy paying stuff before I started to get the better jobs, so YMMV. If none of this is practical for your situation, I highly recommend falling back on the barter system- again, it isn't what you make, it's what you keep!
So there you have it- the 10 ways we have all that we have on the salary we have. Hope some of my strategies work to keep just a bit more of your money in your pockets :)