Yes, It’s Okay to Take the Senior Discount

rick kahler

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In my 40s, I delighted in buying AARP memberships as 50th birthday gifts for my friends to remind them they were now officially “over the hill.” You can imagine their delight in doing the same for me when I turned 50. I remember the disbelief in realizing that I was really a senior citizen. I let my gift membership lapse after the first year.

Now, 18 years later, there is no denying I am a full-blown senior. The increasing amount of time I have to spend on maintaining my health and the increasing episodes of forgetting where I placed my reading glasses are not something that I really relish.

Despite the challenges of aging, there are a few perks that come with the status, including senior discounts. These are available at retail and grocery stores, restaurants, cruises, hotels, rental cars, airlines, internet service, entertainment venues, national parks, and more. Find a complete list at or

It surprised me to learn that many of these discounts kick in at age 55. When I reached that age, the frugal part of me decided to ask for the discount at a restaurant. It didn’t go well. The restaurant didn’t question giving me the discount, but I discovered a part of me didn’t feel that I deserved a discount at age 55. My frugal part -- and this part had a spirited discussion in my mind -- insisted I take the restaurant up on their generous offer. The other showered me with guilt and shame because I didn’t need the discount and would be selfish and greedy if I took it. The later part won the argument, and I paid the full price.

I am not alone in discovering that claiming senior discounts can trigger some unexpected emotions. Two factors shaping the money scripts behind those emotions are probably fear and denial.

You may, as I did, feel shame about taking a senior discount if you can afford to pay full price. You might fear that others would see you as cheap or miserly.