Depending on how one looks at it, there are many disadvantages to growing older. One’s health begins to fail, at first in subtle ways and then often in astonishing, over-the-top ways. One’s looks begin to fade. Women are often thought to be at a disadvantage in this regard, but old men are certainly nothing to look at. One’s memory also recedes into darkness, although it seems that the more one’s short-term memory fails, the more one seems to recall obscure events from decades past. One loses one’s grasp of complex issues, until even operating a microwave oven becomes an incomprehensible puzzle. And so on.
Advantages for Seniors
However, there are advantages to age as well. Prominent among these are the discounts routinely meted out to senior citizens. The list of over 60 discounts is a long one, and the practice has become fairly universal, although the particular discounts available to seniors vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And the age at which senior discounts apply can vary as well; in some countries, most over 60 discounts don’t kick in until that precise age — 60. However, in the United States, many senior discounts begin at age 55 or even 50. That hardly seems fair; many 50-year-olds feel that they are in the prime of their lives and will be too proud, or too vain, to accept any favors that will force them to admit that they, too, are getting older.
Products Discounted for Seniors
Products and services that are discounted for seniors range from movie tickets, airfares, greens fees, and cruise tickets to restaurant meals, campground fees, and coffee at McDonald’s. Sometimes, membership in a certain organization is required. The most prominent of these is the American Association of Retired Persons, better known by its abbreviation, AARP. Any American over the age of 50 is eligible for membership, and the very affordable dues — $16.00 per year for U.S. residents, cheaper per year if you pay up-front for multiyear blocks — are well worth it, given the discounts to which you then gain access. A good place to start looking is at AARP’s website; click on “find a discount,” then click down into the various categories to find what you’re looking for.
More localized service is available at seniordiscounts.com. Fill in your state and town (or zip code) with an acceptable radius in mileage — how far you’re willing to drive to track down that discount — and the website will return a long list of available senior discounts, arranged by category. One has to be a member of the website to access this information; there are three levels of membership. Both Gold Membership and Premium Membership, at $7.95 and $12.95 annually, respectively, provide full access and contact information for 150,000 businesses that extend discounts to seniors.
There are various other online resources for seniors, including members-only storehouses of information about discounts. If possible, try to find user reviews at a third-party website, or at least get recommendations from trusted acquaintances, before signing up for any service that you have to pay for. Any membership offering full access to the website’s database shouldn’t cost more than $10 or $15 a year.
Senior discounts aren’t always your best option. Membership in AARP will get you 10 percent off the price of many hotel rooms across the United States, but the senior discount can be less than other discounts available online. If you’re traveling, do some research at travel websites, and you’re likely to do even better than 10 percent off. And while seniors can generally get discounts for bus and train fares (Amtrak passengers aged 62 and older can get 15 percent off the cheapest available fare), the fluctuating cost of jet fuel has eliminated most senior discounts for airfares. Websites such as cheapflights.com are a good resource for the latest information. And, at retail stores, you may not be able to combine your senior discount with a coupon or other promotional price. A promotional discount or coupon might be better than the standard senior discount.
If in doubt — ask! Many shops and services won’t extend a senior discount, even if available, unless you ask for it. You may need to provide some form of ID to prove that you are indeed that old!
There is much to consider regarding your insurance needs; consult with a financial advisor if you need help.