I'm building my first system and plan to sink a fair bit of money into it, but within reason (e.x. no 1% increases for 50% more price)
Here are my parts so far
Case - NZXT Phantom 410
Motherboard - ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77
Processor - Intel Core i7-3770K
(Intel Core i5-3570K - $219.99)
Ram - Kingston HyperX Red KHX16C10B1RK2/16
So without serious overclocking to the cpu and high-end (possibly dual) Graphics cards what kind of cooling measures should I be taking and why? (#number and size of fans, placement of components, thermal paste, cpu cooler etc.)
Just buy a CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO for your CPU. It comes with a small tube of thermal paste so you don't need to worry about that.
As far as your case, I would just leave it with stock fans initially and monitor your temps to see if they get high. If so, add some extra case fans and see what happens. Also make sure that your build is clean - a lot of case overheating problems can be blamed on poor cable management that causes restricted case airflow.
Hope that helps! Ask away if you have any other questions.