Senior Discounts: Adding to Those Happy Golden Years

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I turned 53 on Tuesday. My daughter made me breakfast. My husband gave me roses. AARP sent me another membership solicitation. It all adds up to one thing: senior discounts.

Like many, when the AARP pitch arrives in the mail, I ditch it. I'M NOT OLD, I say to anyone who is listening (usually just the dog). Just this season on the Netflix series Frankie and Grace, one of the characters — who is in her 70s — noted that she refused to join AARP because  it means admitting she was all done. “There's an article in the newsletter on how to get over that,” another character rebuts.

I mean, what is old? I have some decent longevity in my genetic pool, so let's figure I make it to 90. That would have made me middle-aged at 45! I appeal that decision! And honestly at 53, I feel pretty good. It's hard for me to remember how old I am, except for when I see photos of my 25-year-old self and I remember that skin.

Act your age? Sometimes

Here are some tips on how not to feel older than you are:

  • Don't use a magnifying mirror in the bathroom.

  • Refuse the ophthalmologist's repeated suggestion that multi-focal contact lenses are for you.

  • Do not ask the doctor or the police officer their age.

  • Pluck that annoying piece of wire that keeps growing out of your chin.

  • Listen to today's music.

  • Continue to ask for your mom's advice.

And don't pay attention to stereotypes! Such as AARP is only for old folks! According to its own media release, “AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning. We advocate for consumers in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.”

AARP has been engaged in a vigorous rebranding campaign for the last three years. They no longer call themselves the American Association of Retired Persons. They have been working to “revitalize and reposition the AARP brand as one that is ‘relevant to me' by delivering a message of strength and empowerment. The creative shows not only what the face of 50+ looks like today, but more importantly, the new mindset of people entering or already in this life stage.”

Membership costs $16 a year. That's four trips to Starbucks. And according to AARP, you get all kinds of amazing discounts and benefits from that fee, as well as information from their newsletters and publications. But is it worth it? It's always worth investigating these member-only discount offers.

Always do the math

Years ago when we were up to our eyeballs in baby formula and diapers, my husband and I thought about joining the local BJ's, one of those buy-in-bulk discount stores. So we used a guest pass and went through and picked up lots of baby- and toddler-related items — in large quantities. Then we went to the local Wal-Mart and looked at the same products (in smaller, far more storable sizes) and realized that when you broke down the actual cost (and added in the gas used to go to BJ's, which was considerably farther from our house) and on top of that the storage challenges, it was not a good financial decision to join the bulk club.

AARP does offer a car insurance discount, but you should shop around (it's so easy now online) for the best car insurance rate, and you also want to pay attention to how those insurance companies rank when it comes to actually helping you. It's all well and good to pay a low rate on your car insurance but when you need them, you want that company to have your back and cover your costs.

Related >> How Much Insurance to Buy

There are myriad other discounts, ranging from florists to restaurants to your wireless bill. All are worth investigating and comparing to what you pay now. It's pretty easy to make back a $16 annual fee but think about how you live your life. It's like my husband always says when I hand him grocery coupons for name-brands: “The generics are much cheaper even without a coupon.” So don't spend what you wouldn't normally in order to get that 10 percent off. Eating out more on an AARP discount isn't better for your waistline or your wallet.

So many discounts, so little time

Do some more research and see what discounts are out there with no fees attached! There are tons, including lots of great airline discounts that aren't tied to a membership or miles or anything. You simply have to ask. Some start at 50, lots apply to 55 and older, and there are tons of them for 60 and up. My dad took great joy in getting a free coffee at Dunkin' Donuts every chance he had. I can get 10 percent off at Krispy Kreme right this minute, and I am only two years away from 10 percent off at Wendy's! Let's get this discount party started. I look forward to being carded again!

I am thinking that today, armed with the wisdom of my 53 years, I am going to take up AARP on their membership offer, and spend that $16. Partly I am going to do it because I think it is important to embrace who you are, and that includes what stage you're at. I am deep into middle age, and rapidly approaching being a senior! Bring it on!

Related >> Starting to Save for Retirement at 40

How about you? What discounts do you take advantage of because of your age? Any advice? Pitfalls?

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Louise
Louise
4 years ago

AARP’s motel/hotel discount shows up on just about every reservation website you will find online; check in at any chain and you can ask for it. The amount is about 10% off, so you can easily recover your annual fee in less than two motel stays, (unless you have a military, government, etc. discount; they don’t stack them).

AARP magazines have good general interest articles and items targeted particularly to active and alert people between the ages of 50-90.

And one membership fee covers you and your spouse, even if he isn’t old enough yet!

getagrip
getagrip
4 years ago

I find it telling that the same people who will cut coupons by the bushel, buy generic vs brand name, spend hour upon hour scrutinizing and cost comparing brands of appliances they need to purchase, can’t drop a Jackson a year for a large set of discounts because they may be perceived as being their actual age.

Talk about worrying about what you look like to the Jones’, we are a sorry and vain species.

cc
cc
4 years ago

Please DON’T JOIN AARP. I made the mistake of joining AARP when I crossed decade 5 on this planet. It is a mistake. AARP is a liberal organization that purports to help seniors but often the opposite happens. Join AMAC instead. Your membership won’t be hijacked for purposes such as gutting health care for working people so that the non-working class (with no intention or desire of ever working) can have health insurance. Yep, AARP supported Obamacare 100%. You pay more and get less now in your healthcare plan because of this, and AARP used your membership number to push… Read more »

Bethany
Bethany
4 years ago
Reply to  cc

I agree that AARP is partisan and after being a fellow Lobbyist in DC for many years (Procurement, not politics) I have objected to their stance for decades. I won’t join because of the age stigma, but because they misrepresent themselves. I’m sure they spend more than $16 a year sending me junk mail.

lmoot
lmoot
4 years ago
Reply to  cc

“gutting health care for working people so that the non-working class (with no intention or desire of ever working) can have health insurance. Yep, AARP supported Obamacare 100%” Yeah, so that we and the providers won’t be on the hook for their medical bills (which is why health insurance and services are so expensive BTW). Either way we would be subsidizing. At least with Obamacare the subsidies are standardized. I for one hope I live to see the day that dental, healthcare and education is free for everyone. So, I guess AARP aligns with my political ideologies. I didn’t realize… Read more »

cc
cc
4 years ago
Reply to  lmoot

Quote above ^ “Either way we would be subsidizing. At least with Obamacare the subsidies are standardized. I for one hope I live to see the day that dental, healthcare and education is free for everyone”

It already exists. Please move to Denmark or Sweden, where you will pay 60% to 80% of your income into the cradle to grave care you will get.

-cc

lmoot
lmoot
4 years ago
Reply to  cc

I wouldn’t mind since incomes would be higher without employers paying premiums for insurance, and cash flow would increase without paying $1000+ for insurance. Though I love to visit Denmark or Sweden, I’d much rather stick around to support and vote for similar improvements for this country. Because I understand that none of us benefit from having a growing lower class. Anyone who thinks it’s better to live in an “every man for himself” society, has had the fortune to never have lived in an every man for himself society. Anyhow, that’s why we all have the right to vote;… Read more »

cc
cc
4 years ago
Reply to  cc

Quote “I wouldn’t mind since incomes would be higher without employers paying premiums for insurance, and cash flow would increase without paying $1000+ for insurance” Yeah, you would mind. Take Denmark, for example (the highest taxed nation in the world): First, incomes are not all higher. A schoolteacher with 5-10 years in makes … $61,000 a year. Sales tax is 25%. A gallon of gas (when computed as a gallon, not a liter) is $10, give or take. Tax on a car is 180%. ( A 20k car here costs 50k there). Oh, the suicide rate there is a spanking… Read more »

Fred
Fred
4 years ago

As you get older, one of the most important things to check as you are approaching the ‘senior’ age, is what age qualifies as a senior. Some retailers consider age 50 to qualify and some consider it to be age 55. If you are only in your 50’s and you can get over the ‘stigma’ of being considered a senior, then why not take advantage of any discount you can. For example, some supermarkets offer discounts to those who are over 55 or even over 50. Various locations of Arby’s give discounts of 10% to those who are 55 or… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
4 years ago

As soon as I turned 50 I joined AARP just to get the wonderful magazine and bulletin that comes in the mail every month. Best bang for your buck ever….and lots of financial discussion in both papers…

Best senior discount ever is the national park pass…get at 62 for $10 and gives you and the people in your car with you free entrance to any national park.
I like getting senior rate at the movies too.

Elissa
Elissa
4 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

Thanks for reading! The National Park Pass is an AMAZING deal! A $10.00 lifetime pass that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services. You have to be 62. http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html

Latoya @ Femme Frugality
Latoya @ Femme Frugality
4 years ago

I sure wish there were some discounts for 32-year-olds, I would take advantage of them all. Of course, not to long ago those college student discounts were something to look forward to. Unfortunately (Fortunately…I’m not sure which), I don’t have to take advantage of age related discounts for a while.

And Happy Belated Birthday:)

Elisia
Elisia
4 years ago

You do have discounts you can use, from AAA card to city cards (discounts for your city).

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
4 years ago

My grandfather refused to use the senior citizen discounts. I think he found them demeaning. My grandmother had no such qualms, but she refused to join AARP. She felt that their stand on public policies weren’t good for the country as a whole. (For reference, my grandparents were part of the Greatest Generation.)

Ping
Ping
4 years ago

My biggest problem (and honestly it IS a problem) is that I’ve always looked young for my age. When I was 22, I looked about 14. I’m now 58, and pretty fit. I always get asked for ID at a restaurant. Always. I got asked for ID ten years ago when I wanted to get a library card for god’s sake. I’m eligible for some senior discounts, but I’ll be darned if I can actually get one. It’s a pain to always have to show ID. I’ve been doing it since I was 21. (Don’t smoke, avoid tanning in any… Read more »

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