i used the "multi-tier" password strategy as well before entering bitcoin, and thought it is reasonably secure.
when i saw what was going on in bitcoin i abandoned this idea, because really, you cannot trust anyone to keep your data safe, even if they have the best intentions.
today i have a totally seperate password for each service. i write them down on a non-network connected device which uses a software to encrypt my passwords.
i do not remember most of my passwords, but i use password reset quite often
for quite powerful passwords you could use http://www.passwordcard.org