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On the Cheap
There are many losses that seem to come with aging: energy level, memory, hairline. But there are gains as well. And one of the more tangible benefits is the senior discount, which is changing the way America shops.
In its continual effort to capture the business of the aging U.S. population, retailers and service providers across the country are offering lower prices or better deals to aging shoppers, some starting earlier than you may think.
AARP sponsors perhaps the most famous senior discount program. Anyone age 50 or over can join AARP; a one-year membership is $12.50 and includes the member's spouse. AARP members can get a whole host of discounts on virtually everything from retail merchandise to insurance to health care to financial services. Travel discounts available through AARP can range as high as 50 percent.
But you don't have to join AARP to get a senior discount. Seniors can get just about anything for less, just by showing their age. Need your oil changed? Jiffy Lube offers a senior discount. Need a new muffler? Midas can accommodate you for less. Want to see a movie? Most theaters offer reduced prices for seniors.
And they are not alone. Older people can get discounts at grocery stores, restaurants and retail establishments. They can get into museums or bowling alleys for less. They can get special pricing from park districts and golf courses. Many banks offer free or reduced-fee services for seniors.
One of the nicer deals available is from the National Park Service. The service's Golden Age Passport is available to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident age 62 or over, and is valid for the rest of the pass-holder's life. The pass costs $10 and is good at any site of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and Tennessee Valley Authority. If the site charges a per-car fee, the pass admits anyone traveling with the pass-holder in a private vehicle. If the site charges per-person admission, the pass admits the pass-holder, spouse and children. In addition, the pass-holder receives a 50 percent discount on federal use fees for things like camping, swimming, boating etc. You can get one at any of the covered federal sites that charges a use fee; just show your proof of age and residency, and pay your $10.
The age at which a senior discount begins varies from place to place. And some discounts are only available on specific days, at specific times or on specific items.
But it never hurts to ask, once you have reached a certain age, if you are eligible for a deal. You can check for senior discounts in your area at www.seniordiscounts.com.
A word of caution, though: A senior discount may not be the best deal all the time. Sometimes a senior discount can be added to a sale price or other generally available price reduction, but sometimes you have to choose the offer that gives you the lowest price.