Personal debt can bring increased standards of living, but has the potential to be a distressing, sapping burden on a person’s lifestyle.
This is the view put forward by Griffith Business School researcher Sanja Ajzerle who is undertaking an online study gauging attitudes and understanding of debt.
“The ugly side of debt is the side we can be most familiar with, but this is often down to a lack of understanding of debt,” Ms Ajzerle says. “Debt can be used to your advantage.”
Ms Ajzerle, an honours student of commerce at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, will analyse how people typically use debt as part of her research project.
The findings will be used to determine what traits are more likely to be associated with people who use debt effectively, as well as ineffectively. Her research results will inform future policy in this area.
“Financial distress takes an emotional toll and one’s situation can go out of control very quickly. But it doesn’t have to be this way,” Ms Ajzerle says.
She is seeking recruits to take part in the survey and outline how they use debt. The project investigates attitudes to debt, and the ways in which people use personal debt as part of their lives.
A series of individual personal interviews and focus group exercises have already revealed to her the positive potential of debt. Her research to date has suggested distinct characteristics connected to people at risk of using debt ineffectively.
These traits can be linked to factors like financial literacy, a person’s sense of control over and responsibility for their actions, and their family and social environment.
“If it is utilised properly, a personal debt can actually work in your favour. It has the capacity to boost a person’s wealth. However, there are those who are overpowered by debt.”
Ms Ajzerle is also investigating how the convenience of debt through modern-day technology affects people and their attitudes towards debt.
“My research is important as wee need a better understanding of this intrinsic part of modern life for many Australians. It is the preferred payment method for buying everything from investments to consumer goods.”
“Debt affects almost 5.7 million Australian households. Debt levels here have soared to 150 per cent of a person’s disposable income, up from around 70 per cent in the 1990s. It is important we have a better understanding of how our life with debt can be positive.”
Completing the confidential survey takes between 15 and 20 minutes, and is available online at www.debtinaustraliasurvey.com
Sanja Ajzerle may be contacted by email at [email protected]