Have the Time of Your Life in the Prime of Your Life
Ask and You Shall Receive
Serious Shopping and Savings
Remember the Internet!
Let Us Entertain You (for Less!)
Movies and Concerts
Fairs and Expos
Eat for Cheap (or Free)
Savings at Unusual Restaurants
Visit a Magic Kingdom for Less
Watch and Wager for Less
If You’re Looking for Culture
Washington, D.C. for Free
Sports, Fitness and Exercise
Calling All Athletes
The National Senior Sports Association
Tennis–The Sport for a Lifetime
Run for Your Life
Take Yourself Out to the Ball Game
If You’re on a Roll, Bowl
Walk for Health
The Classic Game of Golf
You’re Never Too Old to Ski
Stay in Shape with Swimming
“Time of Your Life” Travel
Traveling for Free
Planning Trips and Using Travel Agencies
Doing It Yourself
Travel Agencies, Clubs and Organizations for 50+ Travelers
Experienced Travel Companies
The Alternatives to Solitude
Where to Stay: Hotel, Motel and Resort Bargains
If You Don’t Want to Stay in a Hotel
Bed and Breakfasts
More Clubs for Mature Travelers
Fly and Save Money
U.S. Regional Airlines
Take a Cruise for Less
Cruises for Seniors
Special Interest Cruises
Bus and Railroad Excursions
Renting a Car
Group Tour Programs
Tips for Traveling Abroad
Traveling with the Grandkids
Pedal Power: Bike Trails
U.S. National Park System and Recreational Areas
The Golden Passports
Your Finances, Retirement and Insurance Made Easy
Free Stuff from the Bank
Where to Go for Answers on Medicare and Insurance
You’re Never Too Old to Learn
Travel and Learn
Go to the Head of the Class
Here’s to Your Health
Books and Information on Health
National Organizations and Prevention Programs
Don’t Lose Your Sight
Keeping Your Skin Healthy
What You Should Know About Breast Cancer
Pay Attention to Your Prostate
Don’t Boo-Hoo the Flu
Taking Care of Your Teeth
Help for Hearing
Live for Tomorrow–Quit Smoking Today
Relieving Your Aching Feet and Back
Wear a “Real” Lifesaver
Discounts on Drugs
Associations and Organizations That Work for Mature Adults
More Public Agencies
Have the Time of Your Life in the Prime of Your Life
This book is for those of us who know we are on the threshold of what should and can be the very best years of our lives. There are nearly 70 million Americans over the age of 50. We are as varied, active, interesting, vital and exciting as any group can be. However, as a group, there are only two things we have in common:
1. We were born more than 50 years ago; and
2. We have earned admittance into the incredible, wonderful, wide world of “freebies” and special discounts for folks over 50.
Because of the variety of our interests, abilities, and activities, and the differences between segments within the 50+ age group, there is no name or label that properly identifies everyone. The new definition of “middle age” has been set as the years between 44 and 66. With that being the case, forget the idea of “senior.” Most of us between these ages are enjoying the “prime of our life,” i.e. middle age. For the sake of simplifying terms, I will use “mature adult” and “senior citizen” interchangeably throughout this book, hopefully satisfying the majority of my readers, whether you have just turned 50 or are nearing 90. Since more mature adults claim to feel, on the average, 15 years younger than their chronological age, labels have become nearly meaningless.
Along with the problem of labeling folks 50 and over, are the false assumptions and stereotypes that sometimes accompany those labels:
• Mature adults are all the same;
• Mature adults are always becoming ill and suffer from poor health;
• Mature adults have nothing to contribute to society;
• Mature adults are set in their ways, stubborn, and difficult;
• Mature adults are draining our country of its funds;
• Mature adults are weak and non-influential;
• Mature adults should be retired at age 65;
• Mature adults are poorer than other segments of the population;
• Mature adults are basically lonely;
• Mature adults lose their mental faculties and can’t think or reason as well as they used to;
• Mature adults prefer the company of older people like themselves;
• Mature adults are physically inactive and become more sedentary as they get older.
I could go on, but be aware that all of the above statements and any others you’ve heard are entirely false, foolish and without substance. In fact, in every case the reverse is true:
• You can be healthier, happier, and live longer now than ever before;
• Your financial situation can be significantly better and continue to improve after you reach 50;
• Your relationships and friendships can be deeper and more meaningful than before. Romance can even get better with experience, time, and maturity on your side;
• Your health can remain excellent and you can participate in nearly any physical activity you choose;
• Your mental faculties can be sharper, your senses keener, and your beliefs and needs more focused than they were in your youth;
• Your choices are greater than ever, with more time on your hands and the freedom to do what you want whenever you want;
• You can achieve goals you’ve always aspired to, rising to new levels of knowledge and ability. Learning and becoming are processes that live as long as you do;
• You can make an important difference in the quality of your life and the lives of all mature adults;
• You alone have the ability and wisdom to cross generational barriers and communicate, teach, and reach out to others of all ages.
Mature adults are the fastest growing segment of the population, representing nearly a quarter of the people in the United States today. As a result, the business community is intensely aware of the purchasing power held by mature adults. With over $1 billion in combined annual income and $300 million in discretionary income, seniors as consumers are a formidable force. In addition, the dozens of senior organizations, associations and advocacy groups representing millions of people over the age of 50 are no longer ignored by our leaders and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Meeting the growing needs and demands of this group will continue to be a significant challenge in the future.
Products and services that focus on the mature market with freebies, discounts and privileges continue to grow yearly as the number of seniors continues to increase. Some of the areas offering freebies, discounts and great deals that I discuss in this book include:
• Transportation: airlines, car rentals, trains, buses;
• Entertainment: concerts, movies, theater, attractions, theme parks, restaurants, sports events, fairs, museums, zoos, aquariums, historical sites;
• Sports: Senior Olympic and multi-sport competitions, tennis, golf, swimming, walking, skiing, cross-country skiing, dancing, running, biking, bowling;
• Shopping: chain department stores, bookstores, toy stores, home repair services, automobile repair services, gasoline service stations;
• Travel: cruises, tours, travel clubs, hotels, motels, resorts, free travel, adventure travel, package deals, national parks and recreation areas, travel with grandchildren;
• Financial Investments, Savings and Insurance: bank and S&L discounts and perks, retirement and investment advice, free insurance information, tax advice;
• Education: travel/study programs, free and low-cost adult education programs, college and university programs, computer networking for seniors;
• Health: health screenings, medical and dental services, free information, treatment, preventative programs, medicine, and prescription drugs.
These topics include some of the major areas of interest to mature adults. In addition I’ve included some helpful suggestions and guidelines to aid you in getting these deals and enjoying them as much as possible.
There are some terrific opportunities out there waiting for mature adults. Freebies and savings can be found nearly everywhere. Not only can you save when you’re having fun (which is where most people think all the savings are), but you can save at the bank, where you shop, going back to school, and in your health care needs. You can save from $1 to thousands of dollars, from 10% to 90% by being aware and informed of the hundreds of special senior privileges, discounts, and perks available just because you’ve turned 50. Some of the freebies and deals that I’ve included are available to all age groups–not just seniors. I just want to make sure you are aware of them.
Ask and You Shall Receive
To take advantage of these deals, all you need to do is ask for them. The two most important questions to ask are:
• “Do you have discounts for seniors?”
• “What is the lowest available rate?”
Memorize these questions and use them everywhere you go to purchase products and services: at restaurants, movies, booking travel arrangements, theater events, sporting events, at the cleaners, at your bank . . . anywhere and everywhere. Soon you will be realizing savings you never thought possible. And they weren’t, before now. You have entered a new life and a new world. They say life is a series of passages. Today, being 50 and older means passing through the wide doors of enjoying the best things in life. So why not enjoy them for less and even for free?
Serious Shopping and Savings
Mature adults are a loyal group when it comes to shopping and choosing products and services. Smart retailers and companies in the business of serving the public know that mature people want quality and service they can depend on, and will reward those who satisfy their needs by coming back again and again.
The American Association for Retired Persons, commonly known as AARP, also provides a wealth of discount programs for those over the age of 50. More detailed information on AARP and other associations and organizations that offer benefits for senior adults can be found in Chapter 7 of this book.
Major chain stores that offer senior citizen discounts include:
• Barnes & Noble www.barnesandnoble.com. More than 1,000 stores throughout the country. Their Member Program entitles members to a 10 percent discount on all books and accessories (including items on sale), a 20 percent discount on adult hardcovers, and a 40 percent discount on hardcover bestsellers. There is an annual $25.00 membership fee to join.
• Kohl’s Department stores offer senior discounts on special days in December, and several times throughout the year. Ask at your local Kohl’s.
• Ross Clothing Stores offer a 10 percent discount to those over 55 every Tuesday.
• Sally Beauty Supply offers discounts of 5 percent to 25 percent to seniors 55 and older.
Senior citizen newspapers often carry advertising by local establishments for discounts of at least 10 percent. Some discounts are good only on certain days of the week or are offered on a “limited time only” basis. In most cases you need to ask for the discount at the time of purchase or service. Here are some recent examples of discounts:
• 10 percent off toys, games, and hobbies at a regional chain of toy stores.
• 15 percent on any purchase, regular or sale, for one day at a popular chain department store.
• Senior citizen discount coupons available from a local taxi company.
• Senior citizen discounts from a distributor of medical, burglary, and fire alarms and security systems.
• 10 percent senior citizen discount for all automotive service repairs from a tire and brake service garage.
• 10 percent discount to seniors over 50 on all orders from a collectibles mail order catalog.
• Senior citizen coupon worth $1 off the cost of a car wash.
• 10 percent senior citizen discount on television repair service.
• 10 percent senior citizen discount on window washing.
• 10 percent senior citizen discount on veterinarian services.
• 20 percent senior citizen discount on medical services of a general practitioner.
• 15 to 25 percent senior citizen discount on dental services.
• 15 percent senior citizen discount on the services of an electrician and 10 percent off the cost of services of a handyman.
• Senior discount offered on house painting, carpentry, and concrete and block work.
• 41 percent senior citizen discount on regular price acrylic yarn from super yarn mart.
If you want to take advantage of self-service prices at gas stations, but have a problem doing it yourself (pumping gas can be hard on stiff joints and limbs), individual station owners are often sympathetic to the less agile older citizen’s plight. Speak with the manager or owner about arranging a time to come in for gas when business is usually slow. They may help you fill up at the self-service tank when they are not busy with other customers. Avoid gas station-convenience store combos or high-volume gas stations. Some operate with only one or two cashiers who are unable to leave their posts to help customers.
State senior citizen discount programs include businesses offering senior discounts (in addition to the discounts seniors receive at state parks, campgrounds, fishing areas, historic sites, etc.). A member of the program can use his or her membership card to obtain discounts at establishments participating in the senior discount program. In California, participants advertising in the Yellow Pages of the phone directory display a special symbol in their ads to notify consumers that they belong to the program. Check with your state’s Office/Department on Aging for a list of businesses in the senior citizen discount program.
Remember the Internet!
Just a few years ago, the Internet was something only “techies” understood. It was a strange world located in the foreign galaxy of cyberspace that was off limits to all but the most computer-savvy folks. What a difference a few years can make!
Today, I highly recommend you learn to use the “net” and “surf” your way to the knowledge and savings that are just a mouse click away. Nearly every commercial and consumer entity now has a web site, and navigation around cyberspace is becoming easier all the time. Millions of seniors are discovering the cyber world-a place to connect with far-flung family and friends through e-mail, sharing grandchildren’s photos and so much more. As many as 2 million folks regularly visitwww.cyberseniors.org, a site devoted to creating a virtual online community and empowering seniors with Internet skills. It features basic tips for cyber rookies and valuable links to health, hobby, and lifestyle sites, including fun sites that offer recipes and candy factory tours. (The site also offers in-person workshops around the country to teach seniors how to use the Internet). The Internet provides a powerful and fun lifeline for active seniors as well as shut-ins.
If you don’t have your own computer, you can use one for free at your local library. If the idea of the Internet is confusing and overwhelming to you, check with your local high school, senior center or adult learning center for free or low-cost courses in using this amazing technological tool. Or, better yet, ask one of your family members or colleagues at work if they would be willing to give you some lessons. Most people, especially adult children and grandchildren are happy to teach you their online skills. This is a great opportunity to bond with a co-worker or younger family member who, in turn, will get the satisfaction of teaching you something that can enhance your life. In addition to www.cyberseniors.org, you can also jump right in, dial up the Internet, and go to “50+ Web Guide” at www.smartandrich.com. Once you’ve learned the basics, you will quickly catch on to the shortcuts and tricks of finding nearly anything and everything you desire.
Another web site, www.seniornet.org, offers regular discussion groups and member blogs, where users can “talk” about various topics. www.seniornet.org has lots of information on Internet basics, along with bulletin boards where one can post comments and replies on various topics, including gardening, music, politics and health. Check out www.seniors-site.comwhich features an array of message boards for general discussions as well as those focused on health and legal issues. An “Ask an Expert” feature allows visitors to e-mail questions to authorities on care giving, grandparenting, computers and more.
I have included many web sites, in addition to phone numbers and addresses, to make your search for savings and freebies as easy as possible. To accommodate the swelling online ranks of older Americans, web sites devoted solely to seniors have sprouted up, providing a wealth of resources targeted at the over-50 crowd, with chat rooms and message boards that bring seniors together over a wide range of topics. Surfing the world and socializing from the comfort of an armchair is convenient for anyone, but understandably holds a special appeal for many seniors. E-mail is usually the main reason seniors decide to go online. Then you can jump in and explore health resources and even make new friends. As you get more comfortable navigating the Internet, you can begin using this invaluable source for tracking finances, doing banking and making purchases. I encourage you to explore these sites, which, in many cases, will lead you to additional sites and links to help you find exactly what you need.
Welcome to the world of senior savings and have the time of your life in the prime of your life!!
© Copyright 2008
The author of the Free Stuff series of books is a professional bargain hunter. She has appeared on television talk shows, syndicated radio shows, and has been a featured expert columnist in such publications as Bottom Line and Money Worth. She makes her home in the Los Angeles area.