More than half of Australians would tap into their superannuation savings early if given the opportunity, with the main drivers being the increasing costs of living and the aspiration of homeownership, according to research conducted by a financial product comparison website.
Finder stated that in a survey of 1090 respondents conducted in June, 56 per cent expressed their willingness to withdraw funds from their superannuation accounts. Of those surveyed, 17 per cent cited the desire to ease the burden of living expenses as the reason, while 15 per cent would use the funds towards homeownership.
Additionally, 8 per cent of respondents would opt for early super access to invest in property and an equal 8 per cent would allocate the funds towards a holiday.
Finder superannuation expert Alison Banney noted the idea of accessing super funds had become increasingly attractive as households grapple with the current period of rising inflation.
“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,” Banney said.
“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.”
The survey also found just 41 per cent of those surveyed were aware of the balance in their superannuation accounts, with a median amount of $163,064 among those who possessed this knowledge.
There was a significant gender disparity, with men reporting an average superannuation balance almost double that of women – $205,166 compared to $116,812.
Banney emphasised tapping into superannuation funds prematurely is a restricted option, available only under specific conditions, and should be considered 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.
“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.”
Notably, the desire for early access to superannuation funds was substantially higher among younger Australians, with 69 per cent of millennials and 65 per cent of generation Zs expressing their interest, in contrast to just 47 per cent of gen Xers.