Senior discounts add up for the 50+ crowd
Finding Senior Discounts
by Debra Karplus, MS, OTR/L
When you were a child, you always wanted to look older and actually be older; then sometime in your thirties, getting older stopped appearing quite so desirable. But, you've heard that good things come to those who wait. Warren Buffett, American business investor and philanthropist, shares his wisdom, "Someone's sitting in the shade because someone planted a tree a long time ago." Buffett, who is well past his youth, knows that there are many benefits for those who made smart money choices in their youth.
Senior discounts exist for many of the products and services you currently purchase. Different stores, enterprises and organizations have chosen a different age that is considered "senior." Ages 50, 55, 59 1/2, 60, 62, 65, 70 1/2 have significance, depending on where you are shopping or what you are trying to accomplish.
Seniors can save money on some of their fixed expenses.
No matter how frugal or simple a life you live, there are certain expenses (fixed expenses) that you can't avoid. Most of these pertain to managing your home and possessions. Your yearly real estate tax may be one of the biggest expenses you have. The good news for seniors is that many counties offer a discount to homeowners of a certain age. Contact your county assessor's office to see if and when you may be eligible for this often-substantial discount.
Seniors can often save money on insurance. Auto insurance rates are often lower for seniors with good driving records. The AARP website states that seniors can save $357 per year on auto insurance, as a member benefit. Some insurance companies offer discounts to seniors who have passed a qualifying safe driver class. Contact your insurance agent to determine if you deserve this lower rate.
Are you paying too much for auto insurance?
Make sure you're getting the lowest rate.
And while you're reviewing your insurance needs, assess whether it's still appropriate for you to carry life insurance; if you no longer have dependents and debts, you may be wise to cancel your life insurance policy. Additionally, if you're no longer actively in the work force, you may not need disability insurance either.
An enticing opportunity exists for people over fifty who are contributing to their Roth IRA. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows a larger yearly contribution, up to $6500 annually. Check the IRS website to learn more about Roth IRA contributions.
Seniors can save money on their variable expenses, too.
Travel is an area where big savings exist for seniors. If you're booking an air trip online, many airlines have a lower fare for those over 62. Peruse the airline website carefully before you book a trip and pay too much.
Additionally, Amtrak trains offer seniors lower fares, typically a 15% discount. For example, a round trip ride to New York City from Chicago is $194, but it's $164.90 for seniors. See Amtrak.com to view other schedules and fares. If you use your city buses, you'll likely find opportunities for seniors to commute for less. Rental cars may also cost less if you're of a certain age. Just ask!
Seniors can enjoy food and entertainment for special lower prices. Some of the fast food places sell coffee to seniors for a quarter; that may be cheaper than home-brewed coffee. Movies, theaters and concerts often sell tickets cheaper to seniors. They don't want to insult you by asking if you're a senior, so you need to be proactive and ask. Many restaurants have a section on their menu for seniors.
There are other places that offer senior citizen discounts. Your bank may have special checking account offers for seniors. Even the place that does your routine car oil changes or cuts your hair may offer a senior discount. Get in the habit of politely asking when you purchase services.
Have you noticed actress and comedienne Betty White on television lately? Well into her eighties, she looks fabulous and has a thriving revived career. Treat yourself and your money and possessions with respect when you're younger, and you are positioning yourself for spectacular golden years.
Updated January 2018
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Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.
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