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The Discount Generation

Perks of aging...

“Getting old is not for sissies,” or so Bette Davis told us before she died. As each year ticks away and my progressive lenses get progressively lensier, and I can’t run up stairs the way I can run down stairs, and I can no longer do a hundred crunches without a defibrillator standing by (preferably a “defibrillator” with washboard abs), I’m inclined to agree. But there are perks… You no longer have to deal with the word “thong” in normal conversation… You can go to bed with your spouse/partner without performance anxiety… And you never again have to deal with a mosh pit.

You’ve all heard of the “baby boomer generation,” the “me generation,” “Generation X,” and the “disco generation” right? Well, each of these generations is on the path to become members of the “discount generation.”

It starts when you’re 49 as my cousin just discovered when she received her first invitation to join AARP and remarked, “*%# they certainly don’t waste time!” If she’s like I was at 49, she’ll immediately shred the invitation refusing to admit that 49 is the pathway to the big 5-O, which is the pathway to ageism in the work place, which is the pathway to senior citizenship. Work dries up as your skin does (especially if you’re a writer in showbiz and have to pitch to twelve year-old “D” girls and boys, or an actor who tries to stay young and “relevant” with botox till he/she is no longer recognizable, but I digress…).

But, hope springs eternal and you hang in there awhile longer… and a little longer… and a little longer… then finally you bite the bullet and get that AARP membership. If unretouched Meryl Streep and George Clooney (a fellow Studio City ‘hood-ite) can be on the cover of the organization’s magazine, who am I not to embrace my over fifty-ness?

As I began to flip through each issue of the magazine, I kept seeing discounts for us aging boomers and war babies. Yet another aging perk, especially since “paying” work for many has shriveled away and finances have become more “fixed income-y” – ie: investment income (if you have any), retirement (early or otherwise), social security, etc.

I learned that many airlines give discounts for people over sixty-five. Trailways bus line gives discounts for anyone over fifty. 

You get a 10% discount from Dollar Rent-A-Car if you’re 50 or over, and National Rent-A-Car gives AARP members 30% off. Budget give 20% off to those of us “in”AARP and Alamo, Hertz and Avis give 25%, Enterprise, 5%.  The list goes on.

Hotels can give up to 30% if you’re leaving middle-age behind and tell them how old you are. There are senior discounts for cell phone contracts with AT&T, Verizon and Jitterbug. Retail stores such as Banana Republic (well, for those who weigh less than a banana), Big Lots, Kohl’s, Rite Aid, Kmart, Hallmark, and others give discounts. And on Tuesday, you get a 10% discount at Ross.

But nothing changes a ‘hood more, than your perspective of it – and as I began to embrace my discount generation status, I began to see these retail outlets and rent-a-car establishments in a totally different way. They became “prettier” and “brighter,” more “inviting,” none more so than the restaurants around town who were handing out discounts to the discount generation. Granted these are not 5-star restaurants, not even close but, hey, we all eat in them now and again… many of us more again and again.

Bob’s Big Boy gives you a discount if you’re 60 or older (though it varies by location). Boston Market gives 10% if you’re 65. Burger King, 10% if you’ve hit the big 6-0. Denny’s, 10% (20% for AARP members) if you’re 55. Jack in the Box up to 20% after 55. Subway, 10% off when you’re 60. Taco Bell, 5% and free beverages for those over 65.  TCBY and Wendy’s, 10% at 55. If you’re over 65, you can drink coffee for free at Dunkin’ Donuts. Beat that Starbucks! The list goes on. 

Just be aware that in most of these cases, you have to ask!

So when I’m out and about now, I just don’t pull into any ol’ place to shop or grab a quick bite. I peruse my hood with different “eyes” – the progressively weakening eyes of a card carrying member of the discount generation.

Suddenly that great old song: “Talkin’ ‘bout my g-g-generation!” by The Who, who are now great and old themselves, takes on a whole new meaning.

MickMil July 21, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Thanks for the great information sharing! Good work. I didn't know about several of those discounts and I rarely remember to ask when I'm there. It should be the first question. I recently discovered one lingering perk of old age to aspire to. When going through security at airports, you don't have to remove your shoes if you are 75 or over. But if you're really lucky, those are discount shoes you don't have to take off.
Richard Camp July 21, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Yeh, but if you're over 75 you have to remove your teeth.
Dan Fairchild July 21, 2012 at 06:42 PM
See? It's GOOD to grow old (like we have any choice)--thanks for highlighting some of the positive aspects! I can't wait to go spend some (discounted) money from my SS check!
Ilona Saari July 22, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Thanks, guys - I just want to be thin enough again to finally get discounts at Banana Republic... ;o)
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