#BreakFree from debt: a New Year’s resolution worth making

If you started the New Year with debt or money worries, you’re not alone.

Paul Baillie, Lisburn CAP Debt Centre Manager

January is notoriously the busiest month of the year for debt advice organisations like Christians Against Poverty (CAP), as the financial implications of the Christmas season hit home for many UK families. In fact, the third Monday of every January is known as ‘the most depressing day of the year’, as post-Christmas credit card bills land.

People put off seeking debt help for all sorts of reasons. Some feel embarrassed, or that nobody will be able to help them, or are in denial about the severity of the situation.

This January, as CAP launches its #BreakFree campaign, we’re encouraging people to seek help with problem debt now, before things get worse. Here are five New Year’s resolutions to make if you’re struggling financially.

Resolution #1: Make a budget and review it monthly

Making a budget is an easy and quick step towards getting your finances under control.

Look back over your bank statements from the past six months to get a clear picture of how much money you have coming in regularly and where you’re spending it.

If it doesn’t balance, or you need to allow for debt repayments, be strict with yourself and decide where you can cut back costs. Don’t let your budget fall by the wayside – review it on a monthly basis to make sure it’s accurate and takes into account any price changes.

Resolution #2: Cut costs

Ordinarily, we’d be suggesting shopping around for better deals on things like energy bills, but right now experts are encouraging people to stay put rather than switching.

With the cost of living at the highest it’s been in a decade, it’s unlikely you’ll find better deals currently.

However, there are still ways to spend less – check out moneysavingexpert.com where there are tons of tips.

Resolution #3: Get the help you need

If you’re in debt, the best New Year’s Resolution you can make is to get help.

We know it may be easier said than done – one in two CAP clients wait more than a year before seeking free debt help – but many say the single act of making that first phone call lifts a weight off their shoulders and gives them hope that things are going to get better.

You can make an appointment with a local CAP Debt Coach by calling 0800 328 0006, which is completely free, focused around each person’s individual situation, and open to all.

Or you can get in touch with another free debt advice organisation such as StepChange, Citizens Advice or Community Money Advice.

The most important thing is that you get help sooner rather than later.

Resolution #4: Talk to someone

Maybe you’re not ready to get professional debt help yet – we know it can be daunting.

If so, you can make a small step towards sorting things out by telling someone close what you’re going through, whether that’s a trusted friend, family member or support worker.

Being in debt can make you feel isolated, convincing you that no one cares or that no one can help. That’s just not true. Speaking to someone can help lift the burden and show you that you’re not alone.

Resolution #5: Know that there is always hope

CAP helps thousands of people become debt free every year.

That’s people who, at one point, felt as lost about their finances as you might do right now.

There is a solution and we pray you find it soon.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity working with over 580 churches to deliver debt help, budgeting guidance, support to find work, life skills groups and more.

Visit capuk.org to find out more. Discover and share stories of hope using #BreakFree on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.