My recommendations, in order, with estimated prices:
Warn diff protectors, front and rear ($80 each x 2 = $160)
Kilby steering box skid ($40)
JKS 1.25" body lift / 1" budget motor mount lift ($180)
Jeep Medic Fabrication transfer case skid, engine skid, and front lower control arm skids ($500)
Kilby gas tank skid ($225)
This combo will protect the most vulnerable bits underneath, and allow you to get some good experience wheeling it stock.
The Medic skid will gain you 2" clearance in the center, and are made from 1/4" steel plate, completely flat, so they don't hang up on things. I have 'em on my rig and love 'em, they slide right over the rocks. [img]images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
The warn diff protectors are cheap insurance against damaging the stock covers, and mine saw use on the first trail run after installation... the Kilby steering box skid is fairly inexpensive, and saves a bundle in repairs, steering boxes are expesive.
As stated, most skid plates require the 1" body lift, as do a lot of other upgrades, like the Kilby gas tank skid. Doing the body lift and motor mount lift at the same time minimizes the fiddling with transfer case linkages and the radiator fan shroud, and also improves the rear drive line angle, which helps with the budget boost / 2" lift later on.
If you wheel it a lot, you should look into some additional protection for the driver, like a sport cage from TBT, Poison-Spider, or OR-Fab.
Next, I'd add a 2" budget boost or set of OME springs, new shocks, and 33" tires to get you up off the ground a bit. The stock 31's are OK for most trails, but the harder stuff is much more difficult down low. 285/75R16's (33x10.5's) fit well on the stock wheels without requiring spacers for clearance. If you want a wider tire, the spidertrax wheel spacers will allow you to fit 305/70R16's (33x12.5's). Or you can get a set of 33x12.5x15's and some steel wheels with 5" backspacing, selling your stock tires / rims for more than they cost. [img]images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
From there you're ready to get into the more expensive lift categories..... the above was the plan for my Rubicon until I managed to find a used 4" AiROCK short arm suspension... and $10k later.... [img]images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
You should also check out http://www.rubiconownersforum.com
which has a lot of good information and a great community of Rubicon owners.