Remember when being a millionaire actually meant being rich?

While it's still a tidy sum - and could buy you a lifetime supply of smashed avocado - A$1 million (NZ$1.06m) is no longer the life-changing figure that ensures financial security.

If you're living in an expensive city like Sydney or Melbourne, you'll be lucky if it covers the price of a modest house in the suburbs.

So what is the magic number that distinguishes the hardworking families of Australia's middle class from the truly wealthy?

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According to a study by comparison site Finder, it's A$5.3m. That's the amount of savings those surveyed thought, on average, qualified an Australian as being "rich".

It represents more than seven times the national average household wealth, which is A$740,000 - although for most this is tied up in assets such as property, rather than cash on hand.

The survey of 2005 Australians found that men would not feel rich unless they had at least A$5.9m in the bank, while women would need an average A$4.8m.

Finder's money exert Bessie Hassan said the idea of wealth had shifted dramatically as inflation and the rising cost of living eroded the old definition of being rich.

"Gone are the days where being a millionaire was the benchmark of wealth. Now, you need to be a multi-millionaire to be considered rich in Australia, and this is just in savings alone," Hassan said.

"Once you account for mortgage repayments or rent, household bills, travel, and the cost of having a family, there's not a whole lot left over in savings. You can be earning a six-figure income and still be clutching at straws."

Childcare and education were among the expanding costs faced by Australian families, she said, which mean that those with a high earning capacity "may still struggle financially", noting that the perception of wealth was "relative".

While A$5.4 million is the price tag on some luxury homes, it can stretch to cover a wide range of expenses - depending on how lofty one's tastes are.

"For many people across Australia, A$5 million is an inconceivable sum. Saving that sort of money would be comparable to winning the lotto," Hassan said.

"For the average Australian earning a A$79,721 salary and saving half their net income, it would take 60 years and 5 months to have A$5.3 million saved in the bank."

She advised those struggling with living costs to draw up a household budget, asking for discounts on utility bills and negotiation a higher interest rate on savings with the banks.

WHAT A$5.4 MILLION BUYS

Three bedroom house in Woollahra: A$2.8 million

Private schooling for three children from K-12: A$1 million

Weekend hideaway in Bowral: A$845,500

Mercedes Benz C-Class: A$80,000

Porsche Cayman A$154,000

50-foot cruising yacht: A$520,000