Retired before SECURE Act 2.0. How is that possible?

May 31, 2023

During one of his many entertaining press conferences, President Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

That is a funny quote, and he was a funny President. However, the future retirement outlook for millions of Americans is no laughing matter.

Over the last few weeks, we have reviewed several sections of the newly passed SECURE Act 2.0. and it seems that most of the provisions currently in place, as well as many future provisions, still require “guidance”.

So, the question remains. Will the government set every community up for retirement enhancement? For argument’s sake, and to quote another famous Reagan, let’s “Just Say No”.

Then how are people retiring? According to the PEW Research Center, as of the third quarter of 2021, 50.3% of U.S. adults aged 55 and older considered themselves retired. If over half of those over 55 claimed to be retired prior to the SECURE Act, then there must be more than one way to enjoy your golden years.

For nearly 20 years now I have enjoyed helping people plan for retirement, and there are several common themes among those who have achieved a financially independent lifestyle in their later years. Below are a few.


I have never had a wealthy client that was uneducated. I suppose there are a few high school dropout lottery winners, but none have ever come knocking on my door for investment advice.

That said, you do not have to get an ivy league college degree to stay out of poverty, but a bachelor's degree from a respectable university seems to be the minimum for financial stability.

Also, learning more than one skill is a plus. Not all people who are retired stop working. Many take up second careers as part of their retirement, and some continue to work a job they enjoy with no plans to stop.

A commitment to lifelong learning may be a way to increase earnings and additional savings for retirement.


The U.S. spends more on healthcare per person than any other country, and unexpected medical costs can quickly exhaust retirement savings. 

Retirees who have proper insurance coverage and additional funds available for healthcare expenses are more likely to have greater financial security in retirement.

Of course, some health issues are unavoidable, but a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle may be another way to increase your nest egg.

You don’t have to become a marathon runner, but it is true that proper diet and exercise lead to improved mental and physical overall health. Perhaps a slimmer waistline equals a fatter bank account.


Personal debt is a burden on any successful financial plan. Personal debt while in retirement is extremely difficult to overcome and eliminate. I can say from experience that the retirees I work with that do not have personal debt are far and beyond more comfortable being retired than those who do.

In my opinion, getting out of debt is a higher priority than establishing a long-term savings plan. Some would say that paying off debt is a form of savings. Eliminating years of interest payments can provide a greater amount of future dollars to invest for retirement.

Final Thoughts

While I am still skeptical of how the many provisions of SECURE Act 2.0 will play out, I do hope that there will be some improved retirement outcomes. Retirement plan providers and private companies will likely find ways to implement the provisions to best serve the individual participants.

There is also much to be said for keeping it simple. Many people are enjoying retirement today that did not have any of the provisions of the current law.



The opinions and commentary of the author are provided for general and educational purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, or investment advice.
Information is as of the date published and may not contain updates or changes to the topics covered.
This information is not intended to reflect a current or past recommendation concerning investments, investment strategies, or account types; advice of any kind; or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities or investment services.
Wyatt Moerdyk is the CCO, and Managing Member of Evidence Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm.


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