With the stability of the world's economy in question in recent months, much of society is feeling the pinch. Now is a great time to evaluate your personal finances to ensure that you're as prepared as possible for a potential financial emergency.

Evaluate your current financial situation.
Sit down with your payroll, banking transaction, mortgage, credit card, student loan, and car payment statements (and/or whatever other expenses/income you may have) and take a good, hard look. Understand where your money goes.

Set some money aside.
In addition to saving a few months worth of rent/mortgage payments, you should also be sure to include additional savings for necessities like food, utilities, health care items, and gas or money for transportation. It's also a good idea to save some money for general "emergencies" like sickness, major repairs, and other unexpected, unforeseen costs.

Get out of (some) debt.
Paying back friends or relatives that have loaned you money should be priority #1. After that's paid off, focus on credit cards, car payments, and any other high-interest loans.

Be "account"able.
If you're having trouble saving money instead of spending it, involve your spouse or a good friend that you trust. Tell them that you're having a hard time with spending so much money and need to cut back. Having a support system gives you someone to call when you feel tempted to spend, spend, spend.

Plan for your retirement. Now.
No matter what your age, if you're employed, you should be thinking about retirement. Investigate whether or not your company provides any sort of 401(k) match program. If not, it can be valuable to meet with an investment representative from your financial institution.

Be realistic.
Paying down debt takes time. And so does saving money. Understanding your personal finances will help you keep a reasonable perspective in mind. Remember to set goals that you can tackle without getting discouraged.

If it sounds too good to be true--it probably is.
Beware of those who prey upon the less financially-savvy among us. Cash advance storefronts, high-interest lenders, and "scammy" business tricks exist to take your money--fast. Do your research before making any investments and avoid paying any unnecessary fees whenever possible.

Keep your eyes on the prize.
With identity theft run rampant these days it pays to check up on bank statements and miscellaneous charges. If you suspect fraudulent activity report it immediately to the proper authorities and financial institutions.