Darlington Debt Centre has announced a programme to help people in the area manage their budgets in January.

The money coaches, part of Christians Against Poverty (CAP), want to help locals improve their finances.

Darlington's CAP Centre is working with churches across Darlington to give out free professional help in 2024.

Cyndi Hughes, CAP's Darlington Debt Centre manager, said: "January is often a time when we all feel a bit blue.

"The weather is cold, energy bills are on the rise again and money for a lot of people is tight at this time of year, but there are simple steps we can all take to turn our January blues into budgeting success! 

"At Christians Against Poverty and the Darlington Debt Centre, we are determined to help people in our local community improve their finances. We do this by offering free debt help.

"This January we are launching the budget not blues campaign and releasing free resources to people and encouraging everyone in Darlington to make it their New Year's Resolution to use our free tools to create themselves a personal budget and follow our five simple steps to improve their finances in 2024."

Some of the free help available:

• Create a personal budget - A personal budget can be the key that unlocks the knowledge you need about your personal finances that you can then use to make positive changes. Download and print off CAP’s budgeting guide at capuk.org/budgeting to create your own personal budget.

• Balance your budget - The next step is to see if your budget balances, which means to check you aren’t spending more money than you have coming in. Consider what you can cut back on, cut cost on by finding a cheaper alternative or what none essentials you can cut out completely to help you try and avoid living in your overdraft or falling into debt.

• Maximise your income - The third step is to make sure you are maximising your income. Even if you’re in work, it’s always worth checking if you’re missing out on any benefits income that you are entitled to. Do a quick, free 10 minute check at capuk.org/calculator

• Seek free debt help (if required) - If you are already in debt that you’re struggling to manage and you’re finding it challenging to pay back what you owe then seek free debt advice. Visit the moneyhelper.org.uk website for a range of support.

• Attend a CAP service in your local area - The final step is to attend a CAP service in your local area to help you further improve your financial situation. You can find more information on all CAP’s free services in your area at: capuk.org/gethelp. Or contact Cyndi Hughes from the Darlington CAP Debt Centre on 07542 550008 or via email at: cyndihughes@capuk.org for more information.