What are your financial policies? War bonds and taxes alone should be enough to scrape together some forces by the end of '61. Paper printing is a controversial method, some people stay away from it, others swear by it. From what I've seen, as long as you don't use it too often, the interest accumulation shouldn't be too bad.
Here's what I normally do... remember, this is what I usually do against the AI, thought the same pattern would probably work in a PBEM.
1. Turn one, pass measured tax and war bonds. Also, click off recruitment and mobilization immediately. Why do this? Because they will be able to be used again in just a few turns, 5 or 6 I think. These early options won't net you too much, but it's better than nothing and using your conscript and money options early will just let you use them that many more times.
2. Don't worry about defense-in-depth, especially against an aggressive human character. Build units just far back enough to away from the front lines to able to get them in shape and then organize a muster city for your units to collect in for forming divisions and corps. For me this is usually Richmond, Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock.
3. Are you plopping down industry anywhere? Forget it. Your opponent will be marching into Richmond and tossing out Jeff Davis long before any factories open up there. You will get as much from taxes and ship raiding as you ever will from economic development. It may be useful in a long haul game where the opponent invests in a blue water blockade, but I don't use it much and from what I've gathered from players here on the forum, they don't much like it either.
4. The militia mob spawning is another controversial option. They are cheap and you have access to a great many. However, their combat scores are very low and it will take many months for them to upgrade into regular infantry. For the early part of the war, I actually like building those large brigades like the ones you can get for Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas. A one large brigade with a decent commander can wreak havoc in the early days of '61. I've seen the AI actually take one large Tennessee brigade under General Polk and march him all the way from Memphis to Bowling Green... and at the time I had little to stop him.
These are just some of things that I do when playing, but human opponents are much more unpredictable than Athena. But as a catch-all strategy for money, I'd suggest taxes, blockade running, and occasional paper printing. There's no reason why those alone shouldn't be enough to allow you a decent front line force in the '61.