If the government isn't going to be responsible, then we citizens have to take the lead. Esteemed columnist Scott Burns from the Dallas Morning News points to eight ways we can lead by example.

Borrow Less or Nothing

Imagine an economy like ours, that is based upon consumption; the difference is we pay with cash instead of credit.

Spend Less Than You Earn

Mr. Burns suggests we gain strength without leaning on a lending institution. Strength is also derived from having ready cash.

Search For Maximum Flexibility

Flexibiity and adaptation can replace the complications in our lives. While we may not agree with his findings, Charles Darwin said those that survive and not the strongest or the smartest, but those able to adapt.

Retain More Investment Return

Make sure you keep banking fees to a minimum by avoiding them; planning ahead is the best approach to making sure you aren't paying your bank to keep your money for you. They should be paying you.

Be On Your Own Side

Get the most bang for your buck. Move savings accounts to achieve the highest yield. Review your investment portfolio on a regular basis; this doesn't mean everyday. You'll go crazy. But this doesn't mean only once a year; the optimal amount would be once a quarter. Make sure your portfolio is always balanced based on your risk tolerance. If you like 40% bonds, make sure you're not at 25% bonds because your stocks have increased substantially.

Learn To Share

What I've discovered from volunteer work is that when you give to the cosmos, the cosmos gives back...mutilfold. It makes you feel good to give.

Expand Your Skills Portfolio

With technology moving at escalating speeds, you never know when your occupation may become obsolete. Learn new skills; you may end up turning a hobby into a vocation.

Get Energy-Efficient and Energy-Local

Enough said. Find ways to reduce your consumption so we won't have to depend on imported energy.

Mr. Burns ends by saying the pinnacle of wealth is achieved when "more money won't change where you live, what you eat, what you wear, what you drive or whom you sleep with."

What are some of the ways you can think of to get your financial house in order?