For age and want, save while you may; no morning sun lasts a whole day.
The first step in constructing any serious financial plan is to create an emergency cash fund--ideally, three to six months' living expenses--stashed in a low-cost ultrasafe bank account or money-market fund. Without this financial cushion, any unexpected expense can derail your long-term plans.
These days, happily, that emergency stash won't just sit idle. Top bank accounts like the one at UFB Direct (888-580-0049) and perennially competitive money funds like Vanguard Prime (800-851-4999) now pay more than 5%.