Families struggle with debt pressure

HOUSEHOLD DEBT: Urmila Devi, Ishika Rana, Nitisha and Nitin Kranti and Ansh and Vansh Pathak are glad to have their debt under control.
HOUSEHOLD DEBT: Urmila Devi, Ishika Rana, Nitisha and Nitin Kranti and Ansh and Vansh Pathak are glad to have their debt under control. Cathy Moore

FAMILIES who are struggling financially are being pushed to the brink as household debt has almost doubled in the past 12 years, new data reveals.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Income, Wealth and Expenditure Survey found the average amount of household debt has risen from $94,100 in 2002-04 to $168,600 in 2015-16.

Rising property prices, record low interest rates, signing up to fatter home loans and an increasing desire for credit cards is being blamed for the uptick in families putting themselves under financial strain.

Nitin Kranti said he and his wife, Ishika, were always struggling financially but learnt how to turn that around and plan for their daughter's future.

"We were always in debt with a car loan, credit cards and owing money to friends and family but after my daughter's birth we managed to get rid of it all,” he said.

"We bought a house and bought a restaurant and went on a one-week holiday in Thailand and one month in India. All that in three years.”

Nitin said his family mostly cooked at home to save on money and tried to erase debt where they could.

"My credit card was a never-ending debt for me so instead of paying it weekly I started saving money in a different account and when I had enough money I got rid of the credit card and cancelled it,” he said.

Nitin lives with his wife, daughter and mother and cares for his nephews on school holidays.

Bribie Island Neighbourhood Centre financial counsellor Peter Dallimore said there was an enormous number of residents who struggled with debt.

"Particularly power and water bills,” he said.

"This 'spend now, pay later' mentality has caught on and people like the instant gratification of getting things now and they don't think about having to pay for it.”

He said the centre was happy to help residents struggling with debt and urged them to phone 34088440 or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800007007.

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