According to the research, 34% of respondents said they feel embarrassed by their financial habits while 42% said they felt embarrassed by their personal debt. One-third said they hide the fact they’re in debt.

The research also looked at how Australians are using their credit cards. A fifth of respondents said they pay only the minimum amount on their credit card each month, and 11% said they have not paid off their credit card in full for the last three months or more.

Mortgage Choice Chief Executive Officer Susan Mitchell said these numbers are a concern.

“The fact that people are not paying off the balance on their credit card each month is worrying,” Ms Mitchell said.

“However, what is also particularly concerning is the number of Australians who pay only the minimum amount of their balance each month.

“This prolongs the amount of time they are in debt, as a considerable proportion of the payment is servicing the interest, rather than the balance and is one way consumers feel trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of debt.”

More than a quarter (27%) of Australians surveyed said they frequently spend more than they earn, “which may explain why they are racking up debt,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These habits may be contributing to the shame and embarrassment some Australians say they feel about their finances. Indeed, the whitepaper reveals that almost a fifth (19%) of Australians say they are living secret financial lives.

“This begs the question: are the feelings of embarrassment keeping Australians from taking an active role in managing their money? The research suggests this might be the case, as one-fifth of Australians said they often do not regularly monitor their finances.

“The problem with avoiding the topic of money altogether is that often, a small problem can snowball into something more serious if it is not dealt with early on,” Ms Mitchell said.