NEW YORK - There's a big silver lining to getting older: a bevy of discounts for you to enjoy, from free samples to discounts on car rentals.
For many of these incentives, you don't have to be anywhere near 65. In fact, some can be enjoyed starting at 50. Of course, to get the freebies or the 20 percent off, you'll have to admit your age - and then most likely flash your ID, but it can be well worth it.
"Every penny counts," said Jodi Furman, author of a blog called Livefabuless.com, who said she's seeing more discounts that start at age 50 than just a few years ago. "All you have to do is mention your age."
Here are some strategies and tips:
DON'T BE SHY
Many stores or restaurants don't broadcast their discounts. Even on their websites, the offers can be hard to find. So just ask the manager what's available. What's the worst that can happen? And you may even get your ego stroked when the person at the cash register thinks you're much younger than you are.
"Today people are more comfortable with their age -and asking for discounts," said Alison Jatlow Levy, a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. She also encourages shoppers to think broadly and look at every area, from spas to electronics.
JOIN AARP AND OTHER GROUPS
Once you're 50, you can sign up to be a member of AARP, which provides benefits like discounts and freebies to its members through affiliate partners. It costs $16 to be a member for the year, but less than that if you want a membership for several years. There are other organizations like the American Seniors Organization that offer benefits, too.
Discounts keep changing, so you need to keep surfing the Web to make sure they're current. The AARP.org website has a tab dedicated to discounts. It includes a grocery coupon center powered by Coupons.com and has links to such retailers like arts and crafts chain Michael's, which offers a 20 percent savings every Tuesday for AARP members. It also has a section on free samples of top brands in food and beauty.
Levy encourages consumers to check out different websites that focus on discounts for the 50 and over set. Among the largest: seniordiscounts.com, which features more than 250,000 local listings. Other sites include free4seniors.com, allseniordeals.com and sciddy.com, which lets you search discounts by your area code.
BE PREPARED: Make sure to bring your ID and your AARP card when you go out. Business establishments will likely want to see proof that you are the age you say - especially if you look much younger than you are.
The following are the types of discounts you can grab:
A diverse group of stores offer discounts, though most offer them on a certain day of the week. For example, Bealls offers "50 & Fabulous" discount days every Tuesday. The 15 percent discounts are valid at its stores only and an ID is required. At Kohl's, every Wednesday, shoppers age 60 and older can save an extra 15 percent. The discount is not available online.
Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic chain offers 10 percent off every day for customers 65 and older. The discount can be combined with other coupons and discounts available throughout the year, according to Edie Kissko, a Gap spokeswoman.
A vast array of eateries offer discounts, but most are limited to fast-food chains like IHOP and Dunkin' Donuts.
At Dunkin' Donuts, you can order any large or extra-large beverage and get a free doughnut, but you have to show your AARP card.
TRAVEL AND HOTELS
For many car rental companies, you have to be a member of AARP to take advantage of discounts. Budget Rental Cars discounts rates of up to 10 percent.
Among the hotel chains that offer discounts are Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which operates under such names as Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Super 8 and Ramada. AARP members can save up to 20 percent off the best available rate at its hotels, according to Christine Da Silva, a spokeswoman at Wyndham Hotel Group.