More than half of Aussies say they would access their superannuation early if they had the option, according to new research. A Finder survey revealed 56% – ore more than 11.3 million people – would take out and use money from their super if they could. Rising costs was the most common motivation for making a withdrawal, with 1 in 6 (17%) – 3.4 million people – saying it would help alleviate cost of living pressures. This was followed by Aussies who said they would use their super to buy a home for themselves (15%), those who would put it towards an investment property (8%), and those who said they’d help buy a home for their kids (4%). A further 8% of Aussies would use the funds to go on a holiday. Alison Banney, superannuation expert at comparison site Finder, said early access to super was not something that should be taken lightly. “With the rising cost of living and the housing affordability crisis, the prospect of early access to super is a tempting one that is increasingly up for debate.," she said. “Currently, there are a limited number of circumstances where you can access your super early such as financial hardship, compassion grounds and the First Home Super Save Scheme but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. “By taking money out of your super now you could be robbing Peter to pay Paul as you risk wiping tens of thousands of dollars off your retirement fund.” A lot of Aussies have their heads in the sand, with 59% admitting they don’t know how much money they have in their super account. Of those who do know, the average amount is $163,064. Men ($205,166) report having almost double the amount of super than women ($116,812). Data from ASFA in 2022 estimated that withdrawing $10,000 from your super at the age of 30 could cost you more than double that in retirement – a possible loss of $21,516. Ms Banney reminded Australians that making an early withdrawal from your super should be treated as a last resort. “Superannuation is a valuable investment so it’s important to check it regularly to ensure you’re getting the best return possible and building it up as you head towards retirement,” she said. Younger generations were far more likely to want early access to their super with 69% of millennials and 65% of gen Z saying they would make use of this, compared to just 47% of gen X.
Top tips for picking your super fund
Keep your fees low. Annual fees will eat into your returns, so try to pick a fund where you’re paying around one percent of your super balance in fees. And if you have more than one super fund, take the time to consolidate them – you’ll save plenty in fees.
Think about your investment goals. The type of fund you choose should depend on your age. If you’re young and new to the workforce, a growth fund is probably your best bet as this will maximise your returns over the next few decades. As you get closer to retirement however, a balanced or conservative fund will make sure you’re not taking on too much risk.
Focus on performance. Look for funds with high performance levels over the past 5 years. Even just 1–2% difference in annual returns can make an enormous difference to your super balance in the long haul.