If you're looking for free stuff for seniors, it's okay. Everyone hopes for a great deal, regardless of age. However, if you happen to be over 50, take full advantage of the promotions designed to specifically capture your attention - and buying power. If it's for something that you like, and you save money in the process, it's a double bonus.
How to Find Free Stuff for Seniors
First of all, ask! Many people go so far as to wear a "Don't Forget My Discount!" t-shirt. While this may be a tongue-in-cheek way to remind retailers, the fact is that many companies do offer free or discounted services and merchandise - but they don't always advertise the option. So ask around.
Originally an auto club designed to provide emergency roadside assistance, AAA is now a respected discount card used for a variety of purchases, including insurance, travel, auto parts, eyewear, prescriptions, shopping, even flowers. Mostly, AAA extends a helpful discount, but some services may end up being free, depending on the original cost.
If you're an AARP member, that opens a great many doors for special discounts. Visit the AARP Marketplace before retail shopping to see what bargains await there.
Energy Company Evaluations
Contact your local energy provider for a free assessment. A representative from the company will perform an evaluation on your home energy use, and often gives away free items such as light bulbs, faucet aerators, and new showerheads.
Free Stuff Hunter.com
If you like to find bargains and get free samples, SuffHunter.com is for you. The Web site condenses hundreds of merchandise offers into one handy spot. You'll find a lot of free stuff for seniors here, everything from a new pair of jeans to a bag of chips. But remember, only request the samples you'll really use. Also, some offers require you to provide an e-mail address. Consider setting up a free e-mail account through Yahoo! or MSN Hotmail.
Pharmacies, hospitals, and mobile health units offer a variety of free health screenings. Scan the newspaper or pick up a flyer for cholesterol tests, nutritional assessments, medicine reviews with a pharmacist, eye and ear examinations, and many other preventative care services.
Many seniors who don't want all the technological "bells and whistles" enjoy free Internet service, especially if they only e-mail their grandchildren or go online occasionally. Juno.com is still one of the most reliable free Internet service providers available, but it's limited to 10 hours a month. Netzero.com has a similar free service. Certain regions of the United States and Canada have additional free Internet options as well.
The Free Medicine Foundation is a partnership program to aid seniors and families in need of medication. The application process can be time-consuming, but it's worth looking into if the cost of prescription medication hampers your budget.
Depending on your status and need, many agencies provide assistance each tax season. A community center or senior center would be the best place to look for information.
Nearly Free Stuff for Seniors
Make all the jokes about "early bird specials" that you want, but there's a lot to be said for getting half-price meals, entertainment discounts, shopping bargains, and other perks, simply because you're of a certain age.
Keep your eyes open for the following opportunities for nearly free stuff for seniors:
- Movies: Most movie theaters have a 55 or 62 age break for senior ticket prices. The average cost is either at or slightly less than the matinee price, regardless of show time.
- Attractions: Museums and other attractions extend a senior discount for admission or memberships. Depending on the institution, the discount is about 15-20 percent.
- Health Clubs: Get a quality workout at a local health club for 50-70 percent less than other members.
- Retail Stores: Many local retailers and department stores offer 10-30 percent off purchases daily, and promote sale days specifically for seniors.
- Restaurants: Let's not forget that the early bird special is just one of many dining discounts to be found. Some restaurants offer the standard AAA 10 percent off, while others have specials such as two-for-one entrees, or special senior days.
- Airlines: Numerous airlines offer senior discounts, either through incentive programs, such as United Silver Wings Program, or by discounting standard fares 10-15 percent. However, like all things involving airlines, there are many restrictions. Individuals who may qualify as a senior on one airline may not on another. Review deals carefully.
- Travel: Other travel discounts available to seniors include car rentals, hotel stays, theme park and attraction tickets, as well as reduced golf and other activity pricing.
- Education: Seniors interested in continuing education can join a lifelong learning program for a small fee and no credit, or pursue a college degree at some institutions with a grant or reduced tuition.
- Memberships: Various civic and social organizations encourage senior participation through a nominal fee or even free membership.
In keeping with the free stuff for seniors theme, consider renting the following books from the public library:
Free Stuff and Good Deals for Folks Over 50 by Linda Bowman. The general consensus is that this book has more offering for seniors 65 and older, but it's still an interesting read.
Joan Rattner Heilman's Travelers will especially appreciate the resources outlined in this book. A 2007-08 edition has just been released.
Fantastic Discounts and Deals for Anyone Over 50 by Janet Groene, features many more tips on finding free stuff for seniors and other special offers.
If you're searching for more bargains, visit the following LoveToKnow channels: