A NORTH Devon debt counselling charity has warned that personal bank balances in the region could sink to their lowest annual level today (Monday). Christians Against Poverty (CAP), say that Monday, January 26 could be the worst day of the year for person

A NORTH Devon debt counselling charity has warned that personal bank balances in the region could sink to their lowest annual level today (Monday).Christians Against Poverty (CAP), say that Monday, January 26 could be the worst day of the year for personal finances as, coupled with the current recession, it is traditionally the busiest day for credit card bills laden with Christmas-overspending.In response, the charity - which has been operating a Barnstaple debt counselling centre in partnership with the Freedom Family Church since 2007 - has launched a "Cash Only Day" initiative to encourage people to leave credit cards at home and use cash instead."It's a proven way to rein in spending and help us feel more in control of our finances," said Jeremy Westcott, Barnstaple CAP centre manager.Today, the charity has released research findings of a YouGov-commissioned survey showing that more than half of UK adults (54 per cent) feel ill-equipped to handle their finances.The money education study, which polled more than 2,000 UK adults, showed how women were more likely to feel like they hadn't been properly prepared to handle their finances; 58 per cent stated that they hadn't received adequate financial education, compared with 47 per cent of men.It also showed how younger generations are the least prepared to cope with the effects of the credit crunch. The survey found that 59 per cent of under-35s said they did not feel they had received enough financial education to manage their money well, compared with 46 per cent of over 55s.But Mr Westcott said that while many people in North Devon were crying out for help in managing their finances - and that the excesses of the festive season were starting to hit home - it wasn't all doom and gloom. "Through our CAP Centre, we have seen people turn around their financial situations, finding control where before there was chaos, receiving the sound financial principles that so many crave," he said."Undoubtedly, it's a difficult time for everyone as the recession continues to gather pace, but we want to reassure people that there is hope and a solution to whatever financial situation they are facing. "Through our Barnstaple centre, local people in debt are able to access CAP's award-winning, free service. If you're really struggling after Christmas and you're not sure about how your finances will stretch, please give us a call. "We work with anyone, regardless of their beliefs, so please get in contact."For information about the centre's money management course telephone freephone 0800 328 0006 or visit www.capuk.org