Britons would have to be nearly £16,000 in debt before they worried that they were in serious financial difficulties.
The average person claims they would not begin to worry about their finances until they owed 15,837 on credit cards and through loans.
Younger people have an even higher debt tolerance threshold, saying they would not think they had a problem until they owed 16,646 in unsecured debt, according to life insurer Scottish Provident. The group said the figures were a worrying indication of how acceptable debt has become to people.
Personal insolvency numbers are running close to record levels as increasing numbers of people find they are unable to keep up with their debts.
Susan Barclay, head of marketing at Scottish Provident, said: "With the UK's national debt figure dominating the headlines, it appears this could have had an adverse affect on how the nation view their own personal finances.
"To not believe they would be in serious financial difficulty before they reached debt levels of over 15,837 is a worry, and it underlines how debt has become too readily accepted in the UK.
"What starts out as a small level of personal debt can quickly spiral out of control."