Almost half of all Australians admit living pay cheque to pay cheque in order to maintain a lifestyle that would have been considered luxurious in decades past, a new report by MLC has revealed.

In the first part of the report titled Australia Today, a picture has emerged of an Australian society that is confused about socio-economic strata and how much money is required to live a comfortable life.

Sixty-six per cent of the 2,023 Australians surveyed by research firm Ipsos on behalf of MLC said they were either middle class or lower middle class.

Even more strikingly, 44 per cent of people earning over $200,000 thought they were middle class.

“The term ‘middle class’ has become something of a ‘shorthand’ used to describe almost everyone in Australia, except for those at the very top and very bottom of the socio-economic strata,” the report said.

A section of the report titled ‘Are we living for today, not tomorrow?’ found that 75 per cent of respondents believed that “having a comfortable lifestyle means having enough money to do what I want, when I want”.

The top lifestyle priorities of those surveyed were ‘owning the latest technology’ and ‘entertainment’.

“The freedom to spend at will has become the new standard of living for many Australians, as opposed to an aspiration,” the report said.

“Indeed, much of what is considered the norm today would have been considered ‘luxuries’ 20 or even 10 years ago.”

The report found that 48 per cent of Australians said living comfortably requires $150,000 annually and an overwhelming majority said being worth $1 million does not make you wealthy.

[Related: Financial stability yet to recover from GFC]

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