- Build a bigger emergency fund ~ The typical rule of thumb for an emergency fund is to set aside enough funds to cover for at least 3 months. Put emergency funds where they are safe but accessible, such as a savings or money market account.
- Don’t stop funding your retirement ~ Contribute to a Roth IRA.
- Ditch expensive debt ~ Pay off as much as you can as quickly as you can, starting with the card that carries the highest interest rate.
- Find creative ways to trim spending ~ Chart how much you have been spending on non-essential expenses — restaurants, movies, and gifts, for example — then compare the cost of paying for a cable movie channel, say, to joining a DVD rental service or just buying on demand.
- Consider refinancing your mortgage ~ It is not easy to refinance in this economy, but even if you can — because you have great credit and home equity — proceed with caution. Refinancing fees can negate the benefits of a lower monthly payment for quite a while.
- Be smart about credit ~ Pay your bills on time. Don’t merge your credit cards but don’t close accounts either. Use cards occasionally for small purchases, then pay the balance in full.