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There’s No Such Thing As Free Money image

There’s No Such Thing As Free Money

Get a Financial Education and Stop Thinking Like an Employee

Years ago I had a conversation with a young man about 401(k)s. “I have a question for you,” he said. “I’ve read that you say 401(k)s are the worst investments, but I don’t understand why you say that.”

“What is it that you don’t understand?” I asked.

“Well,” said the young man. “Most employers match your contribution. For instance, my employer matches up to four percent of my salary. Isn’t that a hundred percent return? Why is that a bad investment?”

“It’s a bad investment,” I said, “because it’s your money to begin with.”

He looked puzzled and perplexed.

“Listen,” I said, “if it weren’t for 401(k)s, your employer would have to pay you that money as part of your salary. As it is, they still pay it, but only if you give up four percent of your existing salary in to a retirement account where you have no control. And if you don’t, well the employer comes out ahead. It’s your money, but they’re in control.”

Thinking like an employee

The young man still didn’t look convinced, but I could tell he was thinking hard about it. The reason this young man and many others don’t understand my reasoning is that they only think like employees. As an employer, I know that if it weren’t for 401(k)s, I’d have to pay that money to employees in their salary in order to be competitive.

For me, as an employer, a 401(k) is an advantage because I don’t have to pay the money unless an employee opts in, and if they leave my company too early, I don’t have to pay because they aren’t vested.

A recent study confirms what I’m saying and should help those of you who still find this logic confusing or not convincing.

A 401(k) steals your money

A recent study confirms what I’m saying and should help those of you who still find this logic confusing or not convincing. According to Steven Gandel, a study issued by the Center for Retirement Research indicates that, “All else being equal…workers at companies that contributed to their employees’ 401(k) accounts tended to have lower salaries than those at companies that gave no retirement contribution…In fact, for many employees, the salary dip was roughly equal to the size of their employer’s potential contribution.”

Translation, companies that don’t offer 401(k)s must pay a higher salary to compete with companies that do. Those company’s employees simply get their money as part of their salary rather than having to match it and save it in a tax-deferred retirement plan where they have no control and have high fees.

No financial intelligence? Stick with the 401(k)

Control is an important aspect of investing. As I mentioned, with a 401(k), you have no control over your investments as you generally invest in funds and indexes controlled by brokers, who are controlled by bankers, who invest in companies that are controlled by boards — all of which you have no control over.

If you want to be rich, you must have a financial education and control over your money and your investments. This is why I like to invest in my own business, purchase real estate and create products. I have a lot of control over those investments. Generally a good matrix is the more control you have, the higher your potential return. The less control you have, the lower your potential return.

Of course, it takes high financial intelligence to invest in things where you have control because you have to make a lot of important decisions. This is why being forced into a 401(k) probably isn’t a bad thing for most people. This is because most people have little-to-no financial education and wouldn’t know what to do with the extra money other than save it or spend it.

But I expect the average Rich Dad reader to be head and shoulders above the average person in terms of financial intelligence. The reality is that if you’re investing in a 401(k), you’re not making a return on your employer’s match. You’re simply getting what is owed you by your employer.

For some, this might be the first time you’ve ever thought of this. For others, I’m probably preaching to the choir.

Some questions for the Rich Dad community

If you’ve avoided the 401(k) trap, what ways are you using that money to build your wealth outside of a 401(k)?

For those who are learning for the first time how a 401(k) steals your money in this way, what are some other questions you might have regarding a 401(k)?

Please let me know what you think below. And for more information, visit our financial education resources here.

Leave A Comment jump to leave a comment
1/31/2012 3:54:33 PM
The average person, if they even have a retirement account, have a 401k which is investing in mutual funds. Don't be average. Take responsibility and have some control :) -
bittu gandhi
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
That's a great. I read your book. Really Great. Helo Sir Read My Blogg About 1) Things that happen every 60 seconds on the Internet 2) Peek into Apple secrets, courtesy Stanford archives 3) iPad 3 launch rumored for Steve Jobs' Feb 24 birthday By Adam Rosenberg | Digital Trends 4) Top 10 Most Significant Search & Social Marketing Stories of 2011 by Guillaume Bouchard 5) The five-year race to save India's vanishing tigers 6) America's 10 Richest Zip Codes, 2011 7) Top 10 Indian Writers in English Today. And Much More Presently I have designed a website which does not exist in the whole world. I make any thing in I.T. field whenever it does not exist in the whole world. And Give Your Valuable Suggestion. :) Awaiting Reply Have a great day; Yours Faithfully Bittu Gandhi (Researcher, Author, International Record Holder)
Friday, April 06, 2012
In the Rich Dad world, turning down free matching money from your employer is "financial intelligence." In the real world, people with years of ACTUAL financial intelligence (much more than Kiyosaki) like CPAs, CFPs, etc., would tell you that you're nuts to turn down free money from your employer. You can choose who to believe.
Sunday, February 05, 2012
Joshua, I like what you say about 401k's. I'm 55 y.o. I don't have much in my 401k at the time. There is no way that I'll have enough to retire on anyway. What do you suggest I do about my 401k?
1/31/2012 4:53:40 PM
Mr. Robert I agree with you. Currently I am saving money to invest in my first rental property. Your books, advice, and videos are superb financial education tools
1/31/2012 7:52:24 PM
It's a shame how many people are clueless about the RRSP, here in Canada. Most think it's a great plan for retirement, as they have accepted the notion you will be poorer when you retire than while you're working. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad last semester at college, and it changed my life. I now have a commitment and direction for my wealth. Cheers
2/1/2012 4:27:11 AM
Robert, People are so blind and don't see the possibilities they have on this earth. If people just did a little study and increase their Financial IQ they could change their life like you said. I'm 22 years old and I read rich dad poor dad a year ago and since then i have went on and read many other books from you and your advisers. I found a mentor just like you said. I built network marketing business with ACN for 2 years to build business skills and get over my fears. Now I'm working in finance and own two properties that produce positive cashflow. I'm getting ready to start a cashflow club. Also my goal for 2012 is to raise $500,000 in capital to buy more investments. I'm about $300,000 now. My mentors are guiding me and teaching. I'm building a power team. Lawyer, accountant etc. I just want to thank you. Ive studied and will continue to study just like you said to. Your advice and books have truly changed my life. Thank you for everything you're doing. I firmly believe that God has lead me to you and the RichDad company. Steven
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Hello Steven, I read your post and find it very interesting and amazing. 22 years old and you have experienced such great success already at such an early age. I am curious about how you got started as well. I have been studying Rich dad poor dad education now for the last 6 months and wanna start out in Network marketing as well. I have a few questions as how you got started. Any advice I would be trully greatful for. Thank you for your time and continued success in your life! Sincerely, MedicalPro P.S. my email to reach me is
Friday, February 03, 2012
Hi Peter, Steven is right, here in india the network marketing is booming and along with a mentorship programme many people enjoying the rewards of this business. Personality development which is priceless, we are able to get at no cost. If you want to know more, do reply to I would be happy to share the benefit.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
@ steven i am also impressed with your success i am 19 and have been reading the rich dad books for thr last 4 months and i am on my 5th book i was wondering if you could be my coach and guide me i undersstand the rich dad concept very well but i am finding it reletivley hard to build any assets outside of comodities because of no credit any reapsonse would help from any of rich dads students thx
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Steven, that's absolutely inspiring! I'm 23, and I'm looking to invest in real estate myself. I've been investing in stocks and in precious metals for a couple of years now. I'm really looking forward to making my first deal. It's great to hear that someone my age is doing so well. It makes me feel like if you did it, I can do it too. Thank you so much, and if you have any tips for me, please let me know!
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Congratulations, Steven! I'm impressed with all you have accomplished at such an early age. I've read "Rich Dad Poor Dad". Now, I'm in the process of reading "Why we want you to be Rich". I built a business with the same network marketing company to become someone I've never been. Today, I run an Empowerment Institute, and in June, I will be launching a transitional home for girls. I would love to get some ideas/strategies on developing a power team.
2/1/2012 9:12:30 AM
Self Directed Roth IRA....It is amazing. After my family and I lost 40% of their money in Mutual Funds back in 2008, I promised myself never to let someone else loose my money like that. I converted it to a Self Directed Roth IRA (something many financial advisors will tell you is impossible) and also converted my mothers government TSP into a Self Directed IRA. We now hold gold and silver, instead of crappy stocks. Amen for financial education and Rich Dad.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
After reading Robert's "Unfair Advantage" and attending a RD 3 Day Real Estate course. I stopped contributing my money in a failing 403 (b) where the returns were in the negative. The money I am now saving is already going towards the purchase of my first investment property. Of course, I will seek creative financing methods to offset using all my own cash. I now realize how Financial intelligence is extremely critical in today's economy.
2/2/2012 11:12:46 AM
Robert, you are completely right. I often tell my friends that my boss or certain companies have to pay ME instead of themselves. Many people I talk to don't understand the point or will not understand it. That is stupid and dangerous. I have only high school education but I understand the money game and I am learning every day to become rich. And there will be a day that I'm getting rich.
2/3/2012 7:51:50 AM
I'm building a part-time business, and moving that income into real estate.
2/3/2012 10:13:50 AM
I am not as young as you are guys but I am ready to invest a little capital in real state. The problem is I am depending on bank approval for, even if I am ready to deal with several of them if neccesary I would like to hear another suggestions from you. Thanks
2/3/2012 10:18:03 AM
I also forgot to ask you since I live in Canada and the Real State market is different from USA maybe could be an option to buy Real State in USA instead of Canada. What do you think?
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2/1/2012 9:58:16 AM
after reading so many of ur book in past 2 yrs i ve been able to get rid of fear, and now am working towards investing in real estate
2/7/2012 11:37:20 AM
Robert, I've stopped making contributions to my 401k last year and used that money to buy silver instead. I'm thinking of taking a loan out from my 401k and use it to get a monster box. Would you recommend that?
4/12/2012 7:45:42 AM
So after reading some articles on 401K on this site, I'm heavily considering just taking the 10% penalty and taking my money out so that I can invest the remaining portion in real estate. Initially, I was thinking about putting it in Gold/Silver until I found a "great deal". Is this a good idea or are there other, more financially sound options? I hear people say, "Oh, you'll have to pay 20-30% taxes on top of the 10% penalty, but I'd have to pay that when I pull out at retirement anyway so I don't get that logic at all. by the way, my 401k has appreciated by a little less than 10% in the last 3 years and there is a 4% match, so even with the 10% penalty, I still come out on top.
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