Growing debt balances happen so easily for many people, because the new clothes, nicer cars, renovated kitchens, and lots of double-mocha lattes they get in exchange distract them. Debt is like a sheep in wolf’s clothing — it lures you with the promise of a great outfit or awesome new tool that will make everything in life OK. Never mind the fact that you might pay for the item twice by the time the debt is actually paid off!

People running small businesses may have it even worse than people working regular jobs, because it’s all too easy to run personal expenses through the company and distance yourself from the cash that’s getting used up or debt that’s accumulating in the process. No one needs to live this way! Follow these tips and take your life back from the big, bad debt wolf, starting now.

Develop a Monthly Financial Budget and Stick To It

Some people like budgeting, but for most of us, it’s not very fun. A budget is absolutely necessary, though, if you want to relieve debt. It’s the only way to chart your progress and make sure you are paying off more debt than you are accumulating each month. Even wealthy people have to budget — how many celebrity bankruptcies have you heard about in the news? The more money some people make, the larger their purchases become. Start questioning every purchase in your budget, whether for business or personal.

Change Your Shopping Habits to Free Up Cash

Shop consignment stores and eBay to find slightly used items for a fraction of the cost of new ones. Not only does it free up money that can be applied to your debt balances; it also lets you smugly tell all your friends that you are doing your part to “go green” and save our planet’s resources. The first time you find a consigned designer Gianni Versace dress for the holidays that was worn once and cost next to nothing, let all your friends think you’re rich. If you listen carefully, you might even hear the sound of your debt shrinking…

Take Advantage of Purchase Order Financing

This works well for people running small businesses that manufacture or distribute products, and wholesalers or resellers. A purchase order financing company will essentially lend you the money upfront to buy inventory to fulfill your company’s purchase orders. This frees up more of your company’s cash flow to pay down other business debts or allow you to take distributions that can go towards reducing higher-interest personal debts.

Let Go of a Desire to Keep Up with the Joneses

Controlling the desire to spend is an important component of having the cash to apply to your debt-pay down plans. You never really know the story behind other peoples’ finances. There’s a good chance that the neighbors with the shiny BMW, newly remodeled kitchen and kids in private schools have a lot of debt they don’t tell anyone about. These people are stealing money from their own retirement to have things now that will never be able to truly make them happy.

Rework All of your Existing Obligations

Refinance your home’s mortgage, get online quotes for cheaper auto insurance and cut down on expensive utility bills such as cable packages. If you have student loan debt at a low interest rate, it might make sense to restructure it into lower payments so you can put more money towards higher-interest debt.

Accumulating debt is only a habit; just the same as spending conservatively is a habit. New habits are usually pretty painful for the first month, but once you make it over that hump, don’t be surprised if saving money and paying down debts starts to feel good! Watch your monthly debt balances drop and feel your moods improve. Taking back control always feels rewarding, and the best part is, it costs absolutely nothing.

Steve Ashland is a financial consultant for medium to large corporations. He suggests that you check with companies who are funding purchase orders before outlaying cash reserves or capital for larger customer orders.