A new national survey has confirmed what so many Australians already know – the gap between rich and poor is getting wider and growing.

The rich are getting richer while more than a quarter of households have experienced a drop in income.

You probably know which side of the divide you are on, but if not the new Financial Comfort Report commissioned by ME Bank can probably answer this questions.

Here’s Five things you didn’t know about being poor in Australia, and five things to do about it if you are:

1. Do you have less than $1000 in household savings and are you living from paycheque to paycheque? Millions of other Australians are doing the same. It’s called being cash poor.

2. Do you feel insecure in your job? One-third of Australians feel this way.

3. If your household income is under $40,000 per year, the chance that your income has increased is under one in five.

4. Three in ten Australian households have experienced a drop in income in the last six months. How about you?

5. People were asked to rate their level of financial comfort out of ten. The average was 5.41. For people earning over $200,000, the rating was 7.10

So if your score is on the lower income side, there are some little things you can do to help.

One thing which is unlikely to come to the rescue, however, is a big fat wage rise. Recent ABS statistics show wages are growing at their slowest level in decades.

So, a bit of self-reliance, initiative and financial discipline is required, and here are five things to do about it, after you’ve done that big – and boring – budget audit:

1. Set up a savings plan, however minimal. The old one was to save bronze coins, but you can do it on your phone these days with one of any new of new apps. We’ve written about these before, but check out one called Acorns.

2. Re-finance your debt. These means everything from consolidating credit card debt at a lower rate, rolling over one card debt onto another with an interest free period, or re-financing your mortgage. The financial marketplace is competitive, and if you spend the time shopping for a better deal, you can probably find one.

3. Have a cull of unwanted items and sell them, either online or in a market stall. Your family is probably overwhelmed with stuff, a lot of it unused and unwanted. Old clothes, shoes, appliances, the list goes on. A lot of this stuff mouldering away in the garage can be sold. It takes effort, but it could be worth it. How about taking the proceeds from this to seed your savings fund?

4. The sharing economy. Can you join? Is there a spare room in the house where you can host AirBnB guests? Instead of sitting at home watching television at night, how about an occasional shift as an Uber driver? It’s a way of making money and meeting people.

5. That small business idea you’ve always had. Start it up, but start it up slowly without committing a huge amount of capital to it. Remember the words to the famous Paul Kelly song: “From little things, big things grow.”

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