In Case of Emergency
Layoffs were huge last year, and the U.S. unemployment rate has jumped to 7.2 percent. Most of us are in danger of being forced to cut back. If you only have a three-month emergency cushion, try to boost it to six.

"There is some interesting research about having an emergency savings account, and what that does for you from a mental health point of view. It makes you feel much more comfortable, and allows you to deal with emergencies if your hours are cut down or you lose your job," said Ted Beck, CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Where does the money come from? Use the Web to get the most from couponing. If you joined a car pool to save money when gas was $4 a gallon, don't quit now. Have cash transferred automatically to savings each time you get paid.