Do new college grads really need to participate in a 401K Retirement Savings Plan? Yes!  I spend around 15-30 minutes on this in class because my students need it. When they get their job offers, I ask them to look over this part (they usually need help).

Please watch this if you want career mobility & financial independence in your 40s & beyond. In order to achieve this, you will need to invest heavily in your 20s & 30s.

The Benefits of Investing Early in Life:

Let’s say you started investing at 20 years old, and you invest $250 each month with an 8% annual rate of return. By the time you reach 65, over 50% of your total portfolio would have come from money that you invested in your 20s.

If you put $20,000 a year into your 401K, it is tax deferred. Do you understand what that means? For example, if you did not put it into your 401K & wanted to take it home, the government would keep around $6,000 in taxes. That means your take home would only be $14,000. So, you made around 30% right away if you put the $20K into your 401K (rather than taking the money home). Is there another investment out there that can get you a 30% return that fast? No, not legally (in general). Even your student loan debt will not charge you 30% (or at least I hope not).

I get it, you want to live large after graduation & you might only be starting out at $70K as it is (so who wants to sock away 20K a year right away),…but, I would at least put in what your employer will match dollar for dollar. 

Let’s say your company will put $6K of its cash in your 401K (but only if you put $6K of your own). Some people might actually say no thank you and not put in 6K of their own money. However, you are saying no to an extra $6K that your employer wants to give you. Also, by putting 6K of your own in, the government will not take $1800 of it in taxes (if you take it home). So, with your 6K investment, you make an extra $7,800 right away on a 6K investment, that is over 100% ROI. Also, that 12K total a year could be worth $1-2M by the time you are 40. Just the interest on 2M could be over 60K a year.

So, I would at least put in what your employer will match dollar for dollar, but way more if you want career mobility and financial independence in your 40s and beyond. In order to achieve this, you will need to invest heavily in your 20s and 30s.

ONE CAVEAT: YOU CANNOT TOUCH THIS MONEY UNTIL YOU ARE 59.5 YEARS OLD (which seems like death to a 22 year old, but it’s not, in general)

A good quick read for college grads:

First, and I believe that this is the most important reason, is the “forced savings” that a 401(k) provides. Most young people are not great savers and tend to confuse their wants with their needs.

The second benefit of the 401(k) is the “company match.” It’s fairly common for employers to kick in fifty cents (or even a dollar) for every dollar saved in a 401(k). The rate of the match varies, but it can be up to the first 6% of savings.

The third benefit of 401(k) participation is the tax advantages. Whether you use a traditional, pre-tax 401(k), or the Roth, the money inside the plan grows tax-deferred.

The 16 worst-paying college majors, five years after graduation: But…If You Majored in One of These 18 Subjects, You’ll Likely Have a Comfortable Retirement: Notice SCM made the list: #5. Supply Chain (Logistics): $52,290. Note, WMU SCM grads (2022) had a median wage range of $65-$75K.

I have been trying to explain SCM to high schoolers. It’s not that easy. Parents like to see this: the number of US job postings for supply chain managers on LinkedIn more than doubled between 2019 & 2022: The U.S. supply chain accounts for 37% of all domestic jobs, according to the Harvard Business Review:

“Employers are fed up with college ‘waste,’ opt for skilled blue-collar workers instead”…Really?

Ranked: Median Student Debt for a U.S. College Degree:

Ranked: Most Popular U.S. Undergraduate Degrees (2011–2021):

The top 10 most-regretted college majors — and the degrees graduates wish they had pursued instead:

Students/Parents: Which college majors pay off? From WSJ: &

90% of 2023 graduates think college is really worth it.

College majors have a big impact on income. Here are the highest- and lowest-earning fields:

Here’s where the jobs are — in one chart:

The 10 highest-paying college majors, five years after graduation:

Top Degrees in demand, current data (2023) from NACE:

Professional experience that pays well while in college?…Thousands of new internships posted, to name a few – & & What do internships pay (never work for free)? The going rate appears to be $18-30/hr. See: & Being job ready in the post covid market & beyond. &

Are students satisfied with their college experience?…Students have overwhelmingly positive reactions to their college experience:

Goals of an internship (it’s not job shadowing):

If you look at this 2020-2030 job growth chart closely, all things supply chain related scored VERY well:

Tips/advice from this college professor (aka, educated idiot):

1. Read. People that read a lot make more $ (2.3 times more?!)
2. Learn the job saving technology.

3. Learn to interview well. and
How to prep for virtual career fairs:
Being job ready…

4. Learn to negotiate ($). and

5. Learn to network & use LinkedIn.

6. Delay graduation for experience.

7. Learn to problem solve –

8. Double Major?

9. Get a grad degree? Earn $3M more than someone w/ only a bachelor’s degree.

10. Job rotations?

11. 10 college majors that earn the most money:

12. Free tool for calculating degree ROI:

Sample Lectures & Should You Major in Supply Chain Management?

Dr. Sime (Sheema) Curkovic, Ph.D., Professor, Operations/Supply Chain
Western Michigan University, Haworth College of Business


“WMU Integrated Supply Management (ISM)…Nation’s best undergraduate SCM program (Gartner); 2nd in SCM technology (SoftwareAdvice);  2nd in top global SCM talent (SCM World)”

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