It wasn’t that long ago that attaining income diversification and financial protection called for little more than staying at the same company for decades while building up your retirement fund.

For those who were especially financially savvy, it meant retiring after 40-plus years and perhaps quietly taking a part-time job at a nearby retailer to keep finances stable.

In today’s economy, however, protecting your finances leads back to a more aggressive form of income diversification. In fact, unless you plan for a variety of income generators and financial backups, your money is at risk.

Related: Are You Diversifying Your Income? You'd Better Start.

While some people use the excuse of living paycheck to paycheck to shrug off diversifying their income, that task is not difficult to do. Get started looking at the income, investments, and skills you already have by following these steps:

Diversify your portfolio.

It's never wise to have all of your financial eggs in one basket, regardless of how safe that seems. Simply throwing everything you have into the same retirement fund without diversification might work out -- or it might prove to be a big gamble.

You may still end up with a decent retirement, but chances are you could have made hundreds of thousands, if not millions more, simply by diversifying your funds. Domestic stocks, bonds, index funds and REITs, plus ETFs, are just a few places to start.

Create high-end, passive income.

Passive income isn’t just a dreamy way for internet marketers to make money, it’s a reality for people of all income levels and abilities. So, think big. Start an ambitious plan like investing in commercial real estate using a crowdfunding platform like Realty Mogul to gain access to multi-million dollar deals.

Unlike the enormous capital that's required when you try to grow real estate income on your own, Realty Mogul requires as little as $5,000 to get started and takes the hassle out of creating high-end, passive income.

Start a side business.

One of the safest ways to diversify your income is to create a side business or freelance service. Strategize your choice of a side business by treating it like an apprenticeship. Even if you just want to mow lawns and do some gardening on weekends, use these jobs as an opportunity to figure out how to squeeze in some small business bookkeeping, work on your marketing skills, and upsell clients.

A side business takes some hustle, but treating it like an entrepreneurial pursuit can pave the way for you to continue earning additional income whenever you need it.

Related: 105 Service Business to Start Today

Upsell your clients.

Whether you’re a business owner or a solopreneur running a side hustle, look for low-hanging-fruit options to upsell your clients. If you’re designing Wordpress sites, for instance, team up with a copywriter or SEO expert to earn additional revenue. Even freelance writers can add on social media services for their clients or content strategy sessions; or they can offer monthly subscription services to work on meta descriptions and product copy.

Pay down all of your debt.

Diversifying your income involves paying down your debt. Free up your income by aggressively paying down credit card bills, loans and even your mortgage. Side hustles and upselling clients is one way to find the income to lower those bills, but you can also get creative with techniques like putting your debt on a credit card with no interest fees for a year. Just make sure you pay it off quickly, of course.

Paying down your debt doesn’t create income in the same way that running a side hustle does, but the money you save instead of paying interest is still money you can put in the bank.

Focus on value.

Focus on creating unbelievable value, whether you’re launching a side business, investing in commercial real estate or buying stocks and bonds. Creating quick-cash gimmicks, systems and scams won’t get you very far in your quest to protect your finances. You’re far more likely to spend money trying to fix your bad investments and bad decisions than you are to hold on to anything you may have earned.

Look at what you’re actually buying.

What’s going on with your spending habits? You don’t need to cut the lattes or even a trip abroad to get ahead. But a serious overhaul of your expenses could free up enough money to allow you to start seriously investing or putting more money into your side business.

Ditch your expensive cable package in favor of online streaming, and turn in your gas-guzzling car and use Zipcar instead. Ditto for the client dinners and hundreds you might spend on a single night out. Also cut loose those whining, needy clients who just want validation and free perks. Both you and your business will be better off for having done so.

Hire the right advisors.

A solid personal recommendation is only the first step in finding the right advisors. Whether you’re looking for a financial or business advisor, check his or her online reviews, ask for references, find out what type of advising a candidate specializes in and do your homework. Look to see if your advisor has a certified financial planner (CFP) certificate and ask what industries his or her clients come from.

Related: 8 Money Mistakes to Avoid on Your Way to Being Wealthy

Have a financial back-up plan.

Falling back on your income strategies isn’t always a sure thing if you’re not diversifying enough. Your day job, startup, side gig or influx of passive income could dry up and leave you stranded. Remember, the point of income diversification is to have financial options. Keep three or four income generators going at all times and adjust as needed. That way, if your startup fizzles, you can look to build up your consulting business and turn it into a leading player instead.