Never has the class divide been so wide. For some it is mansions and Moet and for others, budgeting and bills.
Today Tonight recruited one family who enjoys the finer things in life and another who are struggling to make ends meet. They took part in a one-week challenge, swapping their financial lives.
Lisa Edwards lives the good life which includes dining out and beauty treatments as regular treats. Her family lives a comfortable lifestyle. Lisa owns a talent agency and her husband Gino is an engineer.More stories from Today Tonight
"We are very lucky, we work very hard for what we've got," Lisa said.
They live in a monster six-bedroom home boasting a swimming pool and 3D TV.
The family of seven spend around $2000 per week. We saw how they cope on the equivalent of the dole - $770 for the week.
It is families like the Allens who are the new working poor. Rebekah, her husband Clint and their daughters Makala and Stefanie are caught in a spiral of debt.
Rebekah works part-time in retail and Clint has a subcontracting business earning $678.
On the dole they would actually make more than that - around $735. But they refuse.
“I don’t want to be known as a dole bludger," Clint said.
Despite shopping at discount supermarkets and buying in bulk the pair are spending more than they're making.
Given $2000, the weekly pay of two higher income workers, they went wild on a shopping spree and had big a few big days out.
“We have been planning to go to the footy all year but haven’t been able to go, we both love seeing our blue boys play so it is just been really good, felt really good to spend the money," Rebekah said.
Meanwhile the Edwards had a taste of doing it tough and trying every trick in the book to cut their bills.
Lisa swapped her petrol guzzling high-performance supercar for a little four-cylinder Barina to try and save money.
The Allens blew all their cash in five days. After the bills were paid, they went to the footy, the Aquarium, dined out and went on a shopping spree. They chose the car instead of taking public transport which quickly clocked up the bills at the bowser.
The Edwards' sliced bills by not using the dryer, having shorter showers, buying 'home brand' and not going out. They came in with almost $2 to spare.
The Edwards believe that after their experience, the dole needs to be raised and they'll be making changes to their own budget.
“It has made me think about our household budget and how we could make some savings. It has given me a bit of a wake-up call," Lisa said
The Allens went gung-ho with their money but have not lost their budget senses.
“We have just gone out and splurged I suppose, it was actually a little hard to spend all that money, because we are so used to not having as much," Clint said.
"Family is definitely the most important thing, having money is good, but we would really just prefer to spend time at home with the girls," Rebekah said.This reporter is on Twitter at @tinekae
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