The bank conducted two surveys of more than 1,070 Australians aged 18+, and found these debt-laden Aussies have racked up a combined $18.1 billion in debt over the Christmas period alone, at an average of $934 per person.
The research also delved into our attitudes towards debt.
The results show 25% of the population are ignoring their debt altogether because they don't want to talk about it - a number that increases to 51% for millennials.
Aussies are feeling “anxious” (47%) and “embarrassed” (38%) about their debts, with another two-thirds (61%) admitting they'd rather talk about 'anything else' than their debts, including relationship troubles (58%).
ING spokesperson David Breen said the stigma attached to loans and debt means Australia as a nation is too embarrassed to discuss finances.
"The research revealed that it can lead to Australians turning to gambling, rather than looking at options like debt consolidation to help manage repayment of their debts," Mr Breen said.
"We need to get people talking about their debt and workshopping management options, whether that’s opening up to friends, family or a financial advisor.”
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One in three respondents also said they didn't know what to do in order to differently manage their debts (37%), while 38% are concerned they'll never escape it.
Most don't even know what kind of financial solutions are available to them - 60% of respondents said they'd never considered debt consolidation as a solution.
“The problem with not talking about debt is that options to solve the problem don’t then readily present themselves," Mr Breen said.
"For those struggling to manage multiple debt repayments, consolidating debts into one low-interest loan can reduce the stress of multiple repayments and high interest rates.
“A personal loan can be a great way to put all your debt in one place, so you know when, and how much, you’re paying off. January is also ideal timing for structuring solutions which will set up good habits for the year to come.”
More than half (58%) of respondents say they intend to consolidate their debts ahead of Christmas 2020 to ease their financial pressures.
Other key findings
- 44% of millennials are unclear as to how much debt they actually have - they're the most worried generation
- More than one in three (36%) said they were unable to fully enjoy the festive season due to financial worries, while another 30% revealed they accumulated more debt this holiday period than ever before
- 65% are cutting back on spending to manage debts, 36% are taking in more work while 33% are turning to gambling
- 19% of those in debt are borrowing money from family
- More than a quarter of Aussies (28%) are living from paycheque to paycheque
- Paying off debt (31%), saving money (83%) and being financially fitter (46%) are among the top New Year resolutions
- Money is more important than love, especially for young Australians: 53% of millennials listed saving as their top priority in 2020 compared to 20% who prioritize finding love