Saving Money as A Senior
As senior citizens reach retirement age, they often try to adopt more financially conservative habits. Is being frugal worth it? Look at the financial cost, the time it takes, your enjoyment, and the damage to the environment. When you consider cutting back, how do you determine whether it is worth it? Although you may be retired, your time and energy have value. Are there tasks you perform now that you once hired someone to complete?
Do you cut coupons? Often the coupon is for food you don’t purchase regularly, or it requires that you buy two items instead of one. Some people only buy the Sunday newspaper for the coupons included. Clipping the coupons is time-consuming. Coupons must be stored and organized and sorted. Some coupons have an expiration date. Many grocery store chains also have digital coupons where you browse through them online and add them to your loyalty card to receive discounts. These are all the things to consider when evaluating if the effort is worth the benefit.
Do you enjoy the activity that saves you money? For example, growing tomatoes can be enjoyable to many seniors, and they taste much better than store-bought. Is it cost-effective? The answer may vary depending on how much enjoyment you get from raising your own food. Not only is gardening a hobby but also a way to provide food for yourself and the community.
Do you purchase items on sale and then don’t use them? If the item sits unused, then the sale price does not matter.
Restaurants are typically the most common places to find senior discounts. Many nation-wide restaurants offer a percentage off your meal and will advertise the discount. Discounts usually range from 5% to 20%, or sometimes the offer is a free drink or free refill. The trick to getting the discount is mentioning it to the waitress or cashier while placing your order. Most restaurants will give their discounts to people age 55 and up. Cracker Barrel has a reduced-price senior citizen menu. Olive Garden offers senior pricing for early-bird dinners. Burger King allows seniors to get a 10 percent discount plus additional discounts on drinks. McDonald’s typically offers seniors a free cup of coffee or a discount toward a coffee purchase.
Your favorite local restaurant may also offer a senior citizen discount. Just ask when ordering.
Many cost savings options are available to seniors for leisure activities. AMC Theaters has senior citizen discounts for most shows, and these discounts can be as high as 30 percent off the ticket price. Regal Cinemas offers senior discount tickets up to 30 percent off the original price. Be sure to check the age requirements at the box office since sometimes it is 55 years old and others it is over 60 years old. Many airline companies will also offer a senior citizen discount, but the age requirements are more strict, usually ages 62 or 65 years old to qualify. Retail discounts for senior citizens are more difficult to find, but it cannot hurt to ask the cashier. Kohl’s Department Stores designates every Wednesday as senior day with seniors receiving up to 15 percent off their purchase. Kohl’s also allows seniors to combine their coupons and discounts. Goodwill Industries has specific days for their senior citizen discount. Seniors can receive 10 to 20 percent off their purchase. The discount days may vary from store to store. Walgreens offers senior citizens 20% off their purchase each month, but they must use their balance reward card to receive the discount. Joann Fabrics has Senior Discount Day, during which seniors can receive 20 percent off of total purchases.
Public transportation often offers senior citizens deep discounts on travel, and occasionally seniors will be able to ride for free of charge. Consider bus routes as well as commuter trains and subways as a mode of transportation or travel. Usually, photo identification is required with proof of age. Seniors will most likely visit the transportation office to qualify for the discount. Typically, the age requirement is 62 and over. Your local office on aging or public library can be a good source of information for potential senior citizen discounts.
Allow your local public officials and elected representatives to serve you better by contacting them and asking about senior citizen discounts on goods and services. Elected officials can usually assist with state and federal government agencies. Many local government offices will offer discounted senior bus trips and discounted event tickets.
If you are a member of AARP, show your membership card to retailers and restaurants to qualify for particular discounts. Amazon offers AARP members a 50 percent discount on certain Kindle e-books, 10 percent on Kindle e-readers, and 10 percent on audio and print books. AARP membership rates can vary year to year, but most often the discounts received are worth the annual membership price. Retailers, restaurants, travel companies and airlines, entertainment groups, pharmacies, and insurance companies offer various discounts with an AARP membership. In their own words: “AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people aged 50 and over. AARP is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for all as we age. We lead positive social change and deliver value to members through information, advocacy, and service. AARP also provides a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members.” Once again, does the cost equal the benefit? It never hurts to ask for a discount.
AARP (2019). https://join.aarp.org/.
RetireWow (2019). http://www.retirewow.com/is-being-frugal-worth-it/.
Senior Living, (2019). https://www.seniorliving.org/finance/senior-discounts/.