Households owe almost £13,000 typically which is the largest sum on records going back to January 2011, according to Aviva's family finances report.
Average household debt has jumped from just over £9,000 a year ago to £12,834, including around £2,011 borrowed from friends and family, £2,006 piled onto credit cards and £1,959 in personal loans.
Low interest rates have helped to push the cost of borrowing down, although one in 20 (5%) families said they are relying on expensive payday loans to get by and one in 33 (3%) are using pawnbrokers.
Less than half (45%) of families said they are managing to make monthly debt repayments, falling back from 57% one year ago.
At the same time, Aviva reported a big uplift in households trying to put money away in savings, with less than one third (31%) of families saving nothing each month for the first time since the series began.
Families are putting £96 a month away typically, which is also a new high for Aviva's records. The report suggested the increase has been boosted by an improvement in household income, which is 5% higher than a year ago at around £2,108.
However, the determination to put more cash away comes at a time when savings rates have been plummeting.
Experts have partly put the tumbling rates down to a Government scheme called Funding for Lending, which has given banks access to cheap finance to help borrowers and made them less reliant on attracting savers' deposits.