JACKSON, NJ--(Marketwire - June 14, 2010) - If the economic mess was a disobedient child, at least one expert would recommend a spoonful of castor oil and a good old fashioned whack on the behind to set him straight.

"We need to get back to basic common sense," said Louis Scatigna, Certified Financial Planner and national radio talk show host known as "The Financial Physician." "We were a nation hooked on living beyond our means, and the brokers and financial markets enabled us to do so, until the bills came due. If we're going to prevail, we have to change our habits."

Scatigna, author of "The Financial Physician: How to Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health" (www.thefinancialphysician.com), recommends a back-to-basics approach for consumers to get through to recovery.

  • Stop using the credit cards, sort of -- To keep your credit rating strong, buy something small with your credit card once a month, and then pay it off within the next billing cycle. The regular use will reflect positively on your credit rating.
  • Only spend what you have -- If you don't have it in your checking account, don't spend it. Make a budget and stick to it, even if it hurts a little for now. Remember buy what you need, not what you want.
  • Pay down your debt -- When you have a little extra money to spend, don't splurge. Use it to pay extra on your credit cards. In many cases, it could take as long as 15 years to pay off if you stick to minimum payments.
  • Use cash when you can -- If you can track your debit card use closely, then do so. If not, drawing cash for specific purposes and sticking to those budget items is a low-tech way of keeping things straight.

"Many of us still cling to some of the bad habits that put us in the mess we're in now," he said. "We need to learn better habits if we're going to survive and boost our financial health."

About Louis Scatigna

Louis G. Scatigna, CFP, is a financial expert who has been a financial advisor and a licensed investment broker and since 1987. Lou also hosts the top rated radio program, The Financial Physician (www.thefinancialphysician.com), in which he answers listeners' financial questions.

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Rachel Friedman