Try focusing on science a bit more.
Get writing quickly.
Build a library and create 2 Scientists (usually in your capital).
Use the Great Scientist to create an Acadamy in your capital.
If your economy tanks, the 2nd great scientist can be added a super-specialist and will add 9 beakers/turn, which is enough to dig you out of the hole - by getting the critical techs like:
Code of Laws: Courthouses.
Literature: Great Library.
Currency: Extra trade routes, marketplaces.
Getting writing early is just really critical. As long as you can create scientists you can dig yourself out of nearly any hole.
Also if you enjoy expanding early but find it difficult to pay for then Organized and Philosophical leaders might suit you well, both make it easier to continue to research while expanding aggressively.