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Single mum earning $77,000 a year exposes reality of Australia's 'working poor'

Alicia has cut back on essentials while living pay cheque to pay cheque.

A single Australian mum has explained the difficulties of trying to keep a roof over her family's head in a cost-of-living crisis. Aussies all over the country are doing it tough as prices for essentials keep rising and many are cutting out small luxuries to keep themselves from going into the red.

Alicia works full-time and earns $77,000 a year, which is nearly $10,000 above the median Aussie salary of $67,600, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). But, the 31-year-old mother of two said living pay cheque to pay cheque means she can't afford to not work, even when she's sick.

"The cost of inflation is just insane," she said. "Like, I'm working from home today. I work while sick just to be able to make ends meet."

Single mum Alicia said she's had to cut back on small luxuries to keep her family's head above water. (Source: TikTok)
Single mum Alicia said she's had to cut back on small luxuries to keep her family's head above water. (Source: TikTok)

Do you have a story? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

"I'm doing really tough, like I'm what they call a working poor. And you do have to cut back on those luxuries, you do have to make sure that you're not buying those takeaways, you do have to make sure that you cancel those TV memberships and just have the bare minimum."

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Alicia said she doesn't splash cash on things like getting her nails or eyebrows done and avoids expensive skincare brands and laundry products.

She said her financial woes have even forced her to cancel her kids' extracurricular activities because she simply can't afford them.

Alicia said she might have to take on a second job after her 9-5 is finished for the day to give herself a bit more breathing room.

But even a bigger salary isn't enough to lift some Aussies out of financial pressure.

Single mum Alysia Sheppard makes $105,000 per year as a sales representative, but she has been working multiple extra jobs to support herself and her two teenage sons.

“Every week is a struggle and I’m scared for my financial future,” she told Yahoo Finance. “I don’t have a lot of superannuation, I think I have about $55,000 to $60,000.

“I don’t own my apartment, I’m a renter. I’ve been a single mum for 15 years and I just have never been in a financial position [to buy], and was left with a lot of debt at the end of the relationship.”

With her extra jobs, the mum of two said she was able to earn an extra $30,000 last year.

But the tradeoff was an “exhausting” 80 to 90 hours work week, which meant she barely had time to see her kids. She has now pulled back to 60 hours per week but this means she is “struggling financially”.

Alicia isn't alone in her cost-of-living battle.

Research conducted by Finder revealed a whopping 6.7 million Aussies are considering taking on a side hustle to relieve financial pressure. Nearly twice the number of women (41 per cent) feel they need to work more than one job compared to men (24 per cent).

ABS data shows nearly a million people around the country are already doing two jobs and Finder's money expert Rebecca Pike said it shows how many are struggling.

"Many have no option but to take on a second job to keep their head above water," she said.

"The cost of living crisis means many are in financial strife and are finding it difficult to pay for rising insurance and energy bills."

Aussies are also forgoing medical help because they either don't have the money, or can't afford to be off work.

Almost two in five (38 per cent) of respondents to another Finder survey said they had skipped medical appointments over the past 12 months.

The study found 7 per cent of Aussies had snubbed the doctor or dentist because they didn't have time or couldn't get off work, highlighting how pressured people feel in Australia.

The Salvation Army has seen a record number of people seeking help due to rising inflation, interest rate hikes and the growing housing crisis.

“We’re having people come who have actually got jobs who are saying we need help with our utility bills because our mortgages are so high at the moment,” Major Kylie Collinson said.

“It’s unprecedented the number of people who are coming through our centres.”

A recent Salvos survey found 94 per cent of people were struggling to afford housing, groceries, medical care and utilities.

Another 63 per cent reported skipping meals, while one in four people were eating expired food and one in 20 were eating from rubbish bins.

- with NCA Newswire

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