Our rich people think they are poor 128



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Has our class system finally broken or is the cost of living as tough for the wealthy as it is for the poor in Australia?

Are our expectations of overseas holidays, new cars and latest technologies out of control and forcing “average” to become way above what it used to be?

In new data just out, an Ipsos Australia poll has identified that two thirds of Australia’s high earners don’t think they are rich, calling themselves “middle income” and “lower middle class” or “working class”.

We’d hate to think how they would live on the pension!

It seems our lifestyle choice of earning and spending is catching up with the most high earners, and they are feeling left behind by their own expanding costs of living.

In the people surveyed each brought home more than $200,000, seeing them sit in the top 10 percent of households but only 2 percent think they are upper class.  44 percent said they felt like they were middle class and 31 percent called themselves upper middle class.

“Some believe the average Australian has assets of more than $1 million. Many also agreed you need an above-average salary to be considered middle class, with the consensus being you need a salary of at least $100,000 or more, potentially also be a white collar worker, have an investment property or the house paid off, and be living in a major metropolitan area,” said Lara Bourguignon from MLC.

Interestingly, almost half of people surveyed considered themselves to be middle class when in reality only about 20% fit into this middle grade.

Sixty per cent of social grade A (approximate household income $145,000) and 56% of social grade B ($105,000) underestimate their position, believing themselves to be middle class. Large portions of the lower social grades consider themselves middle class.

The frightening statistic is that our wealthiest households are struggling to save money at all, and one in five are living from week to week.

Imagine how they’d live on the pension, or on a combination of the pension and superannuation.

Australia is a tough place to live, there’s no doubt about it. The country’s high income earners think they are doing it so tough that they should not have to part with their tax breaks.  The pensioners are doing it so tough they can’t contemplate entertainment or a little bit of fun.

It’s a big question and one we all need to think about. Are we creating a nation of poor, with everyone’s expectations too high? Is it too late or can we change expectations?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. It is called greed, they cry poor mouth hoping even to get more assistance from the Government, they would never survive on a Pension, for them going out for a meal is going to a top class restaurant, for a pensioner it is ducking down the the local supermarket to buy bread to make a sandwich

    2 REPLY
  2. The old phrase trying to keep up with the Joneses comes to mind. Houses ,cars,holidays,childrens education are things that become so important to some that they extend themselves to the point that they forget to be grateful for what they have. We all have to know how to live within our budgets. Having said that I realize that with a higher income there is greater expectation of how you present yourself.

  3. Rich are not poor they a nice house lovely clothes with no wear marks on them them a modern car they on great holidays try icing on a pension not anything at the end of the of two weeks walk in my shoes than tell me you are poor

    5 REPLY
    • Should do all the things you want to do before you retire,pay off home travel or what ever takes your fancy,I still had some places left in the world I hadn’t been too so worked until 70 to fund them,I hate jealous people life is what you make it you get what you put in,if you don’t put much in you don’t get much back,l have lived a full life but by Jesus I’ve worked bloody hard to do it but well worth it now retired everything now is a bonas & to people who’ve done more than me been to places I’ve missed good luck to you,not an ounce of jealousy in my body…retire with no debt..

    • That’s a bit rich Judy……plenty of people work extremely hard their entire lives manage to pay off their home and raise their children doing so on not great wages……and that’s about as far as their money stretches

    • Not a bit rich at all as I said what you put in you get back,I was lucky I had health on my side to work later to fund the things I wanted to do,really don’t care what others do its up to them,but don’t like people who whinge because other people do more as I said I worked very hard to do what I wanted to do but I liked work,also raised 5 kids…but still say you should retire without debt you have long enough to do it unless married late are in ill health or divorced and had to start again,but I’m talking long term marriage…

  4. Our rich have rose coloured glasses and can’t see past their noses so wouldn’t see what the rest of we plebs are doing

  5. It’s all about perception, do your kids go to a top private school, do you fly business or first class to an overseas holiday location every year. Is your car a slick European model are you living in a large inner city house with yard and swimming pool, can you afford to eat out several times a week. For many they aren’t wealthy until they can afford to do all of the above and more. For those at the lower end of the income spectrum feeding the family and paying the rent is wealthy.

    3 REPLY
    • Yes I would not ever change where I live in oz I just wish the rich stop telling how rich they how about with your wealth do some good in your town spend some of that money on things that would benefit those who had no choice to go on a pension and low income create industries with child care attached so you can get these young folk and young mum and dads who do not have a job than there would not be an excuse not to work many town need your help so open your wallet and help the less fortunate and be know for your help not how much money you have and how poor you think you are

  6. Yes they are – I have friends who whinge because they can not afford to replace their three year old car with the lastest model. Wait till you can’t replace the food in your fridge before you start complaining. I have lived television-free for some years now (no signal in my area) and have, from time to time considered installing an aerial. But when I visit friends and spend some time in front of their tellies, I realise they are being constantly bombarded with new things to buy, want, get. Things I didn’t even know existed or feel any lack of. Perhaps if we all turned off our tellies for a year, threw out the junk mail and started living on a reasonable income ($30,000 should see you very comfy), we would not have such unrealistic expectations and would stop screwing up our grandchildren’s future with our consumerist rubbish.

    12 REPLY
    • You do know you don’t have to buy the things you see on TV.. Adds are there to pay for the programs.. Don’t be so weak.

    • I personally don’t think you are missing much by not having a TV because there are a lot of reality shows which I have no time for and not a great deal else to watch. I often go to bed early and just read a book. I never watch TV during the day.

    • I have to disagree about TV advertising being there to pay for the programming – In fact I believe it is absolutely the other way around – We are now being subjected to a whole lot of extremely old TV programes on the ‘new’ channels that would come very cheap to the networks and still we are bombarded with advertising – Network TV has been used as a vehicle for advertising since its inception – once upon a time there were controls on the advertising time to progam ratio – That has now slowly and quietly disappeared – Just check out the time it takes them to run a 90 minute movie – you can add on hours. We are definitely being had… So back to the topic at hand I agree that we think we ‘need’ all this ‘stuff’ largely becuase it is peddled to us in a way that is very clever and does not encourage thinking about whether we are being weak or not – Yes we are allowing it to happent but we are definitely being ‘brainwashed’ and it is deliberate…

    • Kerry Harper I don’t get the chance to be weak. See my opening post. And stop being so judgemental.

    • Kay Harris Yes, and now they want the ABC to up its advertising time – sheesh!

    • Yes because Jo they know that people are turning to the ABC to shelter from the absolute drivvel that the networks are showing. Greed plays a big role in this question and it starts at the big end of town.

    • Have you noticed how many of those ‘reality shows’ have a marketting arm! lol. How stupid people can be – so many rushing out because their sofa is the wrong colour!

    • Big event, besides minding my
      Little grandies, as child care fees r so high for working parents, is woollies & supermarket specials to c if it’s what I need that week. Off I go to enjoy my shopping trip., often on my pushy bike. Good exercise too & it’s easy on the knees, hips, muscles etc…..I do have a little car, I pray keeps going. Happy to get a bargain lol…. Am I so unusual?

    • I guess the rich in finances, will never know the thrill I get from a half price special that I need lol…. Don’t worry, we r rich in so
      Much more than financially.

  7. A lot of people live pay to pay, and go into debt, and the more they earn, the more they spend. The “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is alive and well

  8. It’s obvious when you look at how government education funding has been cut to the bone for public schools, which educate the least privileged & majority of disabled students, to provide ever increasing funding for the most privileged students in religious private schools. This is not only immediately economically unsustainable, it’s an outright rort for the sole benefit of religion, it contravenes the constitutional requirement for the provision of compulsory, secular public schools to ensure the education of ALL our children & it places in jeopardy our economic future that is totally dependent on the productivity of our citizens.

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