Business, Economics and Jobs

Australians borrow $1.6 billion a month from mates, mom: study


An empty can of Foster's Lager (L) adorns the wall next to cans of other beers at the Australian Hotel in Sydney on September 23, 2011.


Torsten Blackwood

Australians borrow more than $1.6 billion from friends, family and colleagues every month, a study has found.

The average Aussie borrowed about $200 per month in this way, mainly for unforeseen or emergency situations, Sky News cited the survey by the Commonwealth Bank as suggesting.

And despite the majority of Australians claiming they were brought up to always repay their debts, almost half had experienced disagreements when it came to paying loans back, the survey found.

One in five had lost friends over lending and borrowing money.

The survey comes days after outspoken conservative lawmaker Joe Hockey warned that Australians were "wallowing in debt."

In an article in The Australian newspaper, he wrote about "the debt problem confronting Europe and the world today, where countries want a lifestyle they cannot afford but are quite happy to borrow from others to pay for."

Focusing largely on government debt, he went on to write that:

"Australia has a debt problem, $140 billion worth.... The modern capitalist economy is centred on the satisfaction of personal wants and needs. Commercial transactions are at the core of the system. If we want a product or service we buy it with the dividend from the fruits of our own labour. The producer is happy and the customer is satisfied.

"The problem arises, however, when there is a belief that one person has a right to a good or service that someone else will pay for.

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In an interview with Australia's ABC, Hockey warned that the "age of entitlement" was over for Western countries, including Australia.

Not so, it seems, for those who borrow a dollar here or there just to get by till payday.

According to the Commonwealth Bank, the informal lending network had boomed in recent years with the advent of internet banking, smartphones and other instant ways of transferring cash.

Those living in capital cities were more than three times as likely to borrow from mates and family than those in the country, its survey found, while 18- to 24-year-olds sought $240 million more than 30- to 39-year-olds.

Women borrowed almost twice as much as men but most people turned to their mum as the first port of call for borrowing $50.