Don't ignore the problem. Unless your debt problem is temporary and you have a solution, ignoring it is likely to make it worse. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to admit that the problem exists and to seek help, but this is the fastest way of dealing with it and getting yourself back on track.

5 tips to help get on top of your debt

  1. Make a list of all your debts and repayment amounts
  2. Review your budget, our budget calculator can help do this
  3. Talk to your credit providers to see if you can come to a manageable repayment arrangement
  4. Don't pay for help, make an appointment with a free financial counsellor or free legal service to help make a plan
  5. Avoid entering into any debt agreements or debt consolidation, these could impact your ADF Career

Struggling with debt? You are not alone.

More than



Australian's live in households in financial distress.

When to get help?

If after completing your budget and debt summary you think you’ll have difficulty managing your debts, seek help immediately. Try not to default on your payments, talk to your credit providers to negotiate an affordable payment plan.

Managing Debt

Sometimes debt is necessary, such as buying a home. However, too much debt can have a negative impact on all aspects of your life and can even lead to losing your security clearance. This video provides an overview on how to keep your debt under control.

Types of Debt


Making sure bills and loan repayments are paid on time, is critical if you want to avoid late fees and interest charges. Late payments can also affect your credit rating.

Set up direct debits or credits to pay each account on or before the due date so your bills get paid on time, every time. This will make managing your money much easier, letting you focus on other things.

Maintain a minimum balance in your bills account to cover all your bills as they fall due, and keep an eye on your balance if you know a large expense is due for payment.

Buy-now-pay-later schemes

Be careful with buy-now-pay-later schemes. They may seem like a convenient way of spreading out payment of a purchase, but it makes it a lot more difficult to track your spending, especially if you have more than one going at a time.

These types of services encourage you to spend more than you can afford, which is great for them because they can then hit you with account fees, payment processing fees and missed payment fees if you’re late with a payment.

If you find yourself in trouble with debt, our Managing Debt section can help.

Credit cards

Credit cards may seem convenient, but if you’re not careful, they can quickly become a financial burden. Typically, credit cards are a high interest, high fee form of credit. Before you apply for a credit card, consider using a debit card instead.

If you do use a credit card, we suggest you:

  • Understand the fees and charges – read the fine print
  • Pay your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest
  • Minimise the number of credit cards you have – you shouldn’t need more than one


Try to avoid getting into debt for things that go down in value, like new cars. It will be a lot cheaper and far more satisfying in the long run, to save for large purchases.

If you must borrow money to make a large purchase, use a comparison website to find and compare loans with lower interest rates and useful features, like the ability to repay the loan early without penalty.