Last year was full of drama. What's done is done. Take the lessons and push forward in 2013. What did the school of hard knocks teach?

PROTECT YOURSELF

"You can never be over-prepared," says Paul Gevertzman, a partner at accounting firm Anchin, Block & Anchin in Manhattan. Have proper homeowner's, flood and car insurance. Go the extra step and document your home's contents, says Michael Fliegelman, a financial consultant in Greenlawn. Protection also includes adequate coverage for life, disability, health and interruption to your business.

SAVE

You really do need to save three to six months of expenses. "Even though insurance pays a portion of your loss, the delay in obtaining reimbursements will most likely necessitate financial outlays," says James Law, a private wealth adviser with Ameriprise Financial in Manhattan.

CREATE AND STICK TO A BUDGET

A top mistake is not budgeting properly, says Luke Vandermillen, a vice president with the Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, Iowa. "As tax cuts expire and food and fuel prices rise, it's more important than ever to create and stick to a budget," he says. Take advantage of online calculators and apps to make budgeting easier.

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ALIGN MONEY WITH VALUES

Your money can be a force for change. After the Newtown tragedy, some investors sold weapon stocks. Patricia Aburdene, author of "Conscious Money," says California's state treasurer urged the state pension fund to sell its shares in the owner of a maker of semiautomatic rifles. "Rethink your money choices," she says.