Practical Starting Strategies
If you are coming to Ambitions with a Sim family already in place, having played The Sims 3 and The Sims 3: World Travels, chances are very good that you have already built up a stable home and nest egg, and that you have your Sims all set with their careers (up to a point anyway), so you already have a good starting point for play and do not require a strategy. If, on the other hand, you are just starting out your Sim family, then having a strategy to use will be very useful and important to you! So if the latter is your situation, read on!
As the focus of Ambitions is squarely upon career activities, a great deal of the worry over having money will be addressed by your intentional play towards establishing your careers and advancing them... Bearing in mind that once you have picked a career (whether one of the new ones or the old) you will be spending a fair amount of time with your Sims at home when they are not at work developing skills that they need to obtain advancements and promotions at work, and you will likely never find yourself without something to do early on in that process.
It is fair to describe the primary focus of this expansion as being about the many different careers in the game -- both traditional and non-traditional -- and the process of improving them. Ah, but therein lies the problem... Your Sim can only have one career at a time, and the process of developing that career can (often will be) time consuming. In fact pretty much like it is in real life! For that reason I strongly suggest that when you create your new Sim family you either create a married couple or perhaps Sibs or roommates who live together, with one of them pursuing the career path while the other stays at home and does one of the more Bohemian (slacker) paths.
The reason for this is simple enough really -- you will need a Sim who is routinely in the house all the time in order to keep it clean, do the cooking, repair the things that get broke, and all of the other routine but necessary utility tasks that are part of maintaining a home in Simville! Yes it is not fair to the Sim who gets stuck doing all of that but hey, make them a Hacker, an Artist, or an Inventor and they can then feel good about calling the shots in their life and being their own boss! And having Sims with alternative careers allows you to have a Sim who can take care of the house, don't forget that and how valuable it will be to you.
The ideal situation for you in starting out is, of course, an independently wealthy Sim who can live the life that they want to live, take the job that they want to take, and who can afford to hire all the help that they need to keep their house clean and running smoothly -- but that is really only possible in a handful of ways -- legitimately by your Sim being the 4th or 5th generation and has inherited their wealth (which requires quite a bit of play time but is not impossible) -- and illegitimately you could cheat... Which nicely brings me to the point of this -- please do not cheat.
The New Sim Sport: Nudist Bouncing
-- The Dangers of Cheating --
There is always the temptation to cheat a little -- a few extra bucks when you need them can make all the difference in the world, it is true -- but the problem with that is that cheating is an insidious and slippery slope and, what is worse, it will subconsciously cause you not to value any of your real accomplishments. I have seen this happen so many times with gamers who ended up putting the game away because once they had their first million bucks in the bank, what was the point?
So please do not cheat. Really.
-- The Balanced Household --
When creating your Sims alternative partner it is always a good idea to be aware when you create things like hobbies and the like -- so that your Sims do different ones -- if your alternative at-home Sim is an Artist then you could have your career Sim take up Music as their hobby, but not art. The reason for that is simple -- you do not want to have to duplicate kit and as your artist is earning their living that way, you do not want their partner messing with their kit. And when you create your stay-at-home Sim it is also a good idea to give them more than one potential money-making skill, for instance an Artist can also be a Photographer, a Musician also Writer... Give that some thought.
While one of the pair covers the daily grind, makes meals, pays bills, fixes what needs fixing, the other focuses solely upon their career, the idea being to get all of the skills for their career mastered as quickly as you can because that is the fastest route to promotion. And hey, your career Sim is on the rat wheel of life, and that is all about promotion, so anything you can do to help them is a good thing to do! Plus your Bohemian slacker Sim can go on holidays (if you have World Adventures) while that poor career-grinding bastard stays home and takes care of what is important to them :)
On the plus side, after your Career Sim has mastered all of the skills that they need and has reached the top of their profession, you can then have your slacker Sim begin the rat-race in some other career, adding to your enjoyment of the new systems! And then of course you have kids, they grow up, go to school, and then start their own careers, and you create a dynasty of Doctors or cops or you know, whatever!
The important thing that you remember is that you are having fun!
A personal police car is one reward for the Law Enforcement Track
-- Skill and Reward Overlapping --
At some point in the development of your Sim-Unit (whether that is a family or just roommates, or something more) there will come a point at which skills and rewards overlap. Your Sims cannot exist together without each taking an interest in the interests of the others -- so you should naturally expect that at some point, even in a household in which the responsibilities and abilities are clearly divided along logical lines, that your Sims will begin exploring the areas of specialty of each other.
In the household that was created in order to play as reference in creating the World Travels guide there were two Sims -- Tomos SuperCheats and his girlfriend Katya SuperCheats (they are not married and they are not blood relations so do not worry about that common last name, pure coincidence heh) there was a set plan in place from the start.
Tomos began as an artist (this was a purely Bohemian household with no plans for traditional employment or early procreation) while Katya began as a Musician and Writer. Their support duties were equally split, with Tomos concentrating on cooking while Katya did maintenance and repairing, and both pursued Logic skills. They each focused upon their primary "jobs" but, at some point past mastery of those, they both showed prolonged and determined interest in pursuing the "jobs" of the other! That trend has been observed in other family/group units, so it is not unusual to the game.
Since I already have them from World Adventures I could have simply used them to do this guide as well, but no, I felt that would not be fair, since they already have their slacker lifestyle, hobbies, and all the skills that they think they will need maxed out, and besides I would be cheating myself out of the experience you can only obtain by starting a new family! So for this game it seems that their cousins from the hinterlands -- Karl and Ute SuperCheats -- have moved to Simville and started their own household. Now how cool is that?