by Marie Fricker
Inflation is defined by Webster’s dictionary as a “decrease in the purchasing power of money, reflected in a general increase in the prices of goods and services.” Sound familiar? For people who are retired and on a fixed income, tough economic times can be even tougher. But the “senior discount” is a pleasant perk of getting older that can help you save money in more aspects of your life than you may imagine.
Restaurants (even fast-food chains), cinemas, museums, cruises, hotels and airlines offer significant savings to seniors who flash an AARP card, or simply show an ID with their date of birth. And yet, many of these discounts go unused because people aren’t aware of them, and local merchants are not often motivated to reveal them.
It’s time to become proactive and ask your waiter, your dog groomer, your hairstylist, even your dentist, “Do you offer a senior discount?” You may have to adjust your schedule to obtain the savings (i.e., Early Bird Specials, mid-week car washes or Senior Day shopping trips) but it may be worth it many times over for the discounts you receive.
For Grace Davis of Hanson, requesting a senior discount at her hair salon was outside of her comfort zone. “I was so embarrassed, but I finally worked up the guts to ask,” said Davis. “And I’m so glad I did. All the years I’d gone there, I had no idea I could have been saving a few dollars off every haircut.”
South Shore seniors are taking advantage of such perks as “Senior Tuesdays” at Briteway Car Washes in Marshfield and Norwell, where they pay $8 for an exterior wash and only $19 for “The works,” which includes polish and an undercarriage cleaning.
“I wash my car every week, and it’s a huge savings to me,” said Bill Sims, 78, of Norwell. “And if I miss the Senior Tuesday, I can get the same price on Thursday for being a veteran.”
Most people know about the availability of property tax abatements for seniors who qualify for them. But you may not have heard of the Senior Tax Write Off program, which allows residents, aged 60 and older, to volunteer at a municipal department in exchange for a credit (maximum $1,200-$1,500) to be deducted from their annual tax bill.
“I’m happy to allow people to volunteer at our senior center to earn their tax credit,” said Linda Hayes, director of the Scituate Council on Aging. “We have volunteers working in our kitchen, at the front desk and in many other areas to save money on their taxes. It helps them and it helps us.”
Senior discounts in a variety of retail arenas are plentiful, but many smaller shops don’t mention them, even if they are offered. The cashier who rings in your items at the register may not even be aware of the policy, but the store manager will be. When you’re spending hundreds of dollars at an upscale gift shop at Christmas time, your 10 percent discount will make a big difference to your holiday budget.
Here is a sampling of senior discounts that are available in the South Shore and Greater Boston area:
Dunkin’s – Most DD shops offer a 10 percent senior discount (for patrons age 55+ or 65+ depending on the individual franchise.)
Burger King – A 10 percent discount off the cost of a meal for age 55+.
Chick Fil A – Age 55+ customers are entitled to a free small soft drink or coffee as well as 10 percent off their purchase.
Friendly’s – A reduced price senior menu is available at all locations.
Michaels Craft Stores – Shoppers, aged 55+, get 10 percent off their purchase every day.
Kohl’s – Customers, aged 60+ are entitled to a 15 percent discount on Wednesdays.
Outback Steakhouse – Diners, age 50+ get 10 percent off with an AARP card at checkout.
Budget Car Rental – Up to 35% off for age 50+ when booking online through Budget’s AARP page.
Ocean State Job Lot – Age 62+, 20% off all food items, every Monday from 8-9 a.m.
IHop – Discounted senior’s menu all day.
Showcase Cinemas – Discounted $7.75 senior tickets for age 60+ on Wednesdays, plus $5.50 popcorn and drink.
Great Clips Hair Salon, Hanover – discount off haircuts for age 65+.
Amtrak – 10% off most fares for riders age 65+.
British Airways – Up to $200 discount off flights for age 50+.
Walgreens – 20% off for seniors aged 55+ on the first Tuesday of each month.
All major movie theaters (Regal, Showcase, AMC, Patriot Cinemas, and more) offer discounted senior tickets (age 65+) for most showtimes.
You can also enjoy reduced admission tickets to Stone and Franklin Park zoos in Boston, Southwick Wild Animal Farm in Mendon and Capron Park in Attleboro.
If you’re in the mood for a little culture, take advantage of senior savings to tour Boston’s
Museum of Science, Gardner Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as Heritage Museum in Sandwich, and Plimoth Patuxet Plantation in Plymouth.
Numerous hotels, including Wyndham Resorts, Red Roof Inn, Marriott, Motel 6, and others, offer senior discounts when you book online or over the phone and present proof of age at check-in.
People, aged 62 and older, with a passion for the great outdoors can explore all of the U.S. National Parks with a Lifetime “America the Beautiful Pass” for a discounted price of $80. They can also pay just $20 for an annual pass to all of the parks in the country.
The cost savings of senior discounts are everywhere, but for some baby boomers, the decision to seek them out is a sticky one.
“I honestly didn’t want to admit that I was old enough for a ‘senior’ anything,” said Nancy Metcalfe, 62, of Marshfield. “But the way prices are in this economy, pride has taken a back seat, and I’m happy to claim any perks that are coming to me. Every dollar counts.”