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9 ways it pays to get older

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The best part about getting older? Of course it beats the alternative. But age also comes with plenty of perks.

I've been told that with age comes wisdom. But I'm learning that it comes with other benefits as well. I recently celebrated my birthday and, along with a wide range of birthday freebies, I began to take advantage of a wonderful benefit of the aging process: special prices and options.

Banking

Seniors often qualify for no-fee checking and savings accounts. Check with your bank or credit union.

Drugstores

For example, Walgreens has monthly Senior Discount Days for those 55 and older. They offer 20% off all Walgreens, W Brand, and Nice products and 15% off everything else. On top of those savings, I also use manufacturer coupons, Walgreens coupons, and collect reward points to boot.

Department stores

For instance, Kohl's offers a 15% discount every Wednesday for shoppers 62 and older. The discount applies to all sale-, regular- and clearance-priced merchandise, but isn't valid for price adjustments on prior purchases, gift card purchases, online purchases, or payment on a Kohl's charge account.

Entertainment

No need to cut entertainment out of your budget with so many businesses vying for the "seasoned citizens'" dollars. Many movie theaters, museums and restaurants include special offers for seniors. On a recent trip to the movies, I not only enjoyed the senior discount on the admission price, but I also took advantage of the "senior special" -- a small popcorn and small drink for a reduced price.

Education

Many state schools offer free tuition, free class audits, or senior discounts. In some cases, senior scholarships are also available.

Legal services

Legal Services programs offer free legal help to low-income and elderly residents for noncriminal matters. In my state, Legal Services helps people age 60 or older, regardless of income. To see the services you have available, use this directory to find an office near you.

Local resources

Councils on Aging -- also known as senior centers -- are local organizations that provide social, recreational, health, safety and educational programs for seniors. Although my 92-year-old mother refuses to utilize her local senior center because it's filled with "old people," I enjoy many free and/or low-cost programs and activities. It is certainly worth a look. Just do an online search for the name of your city plus "senior center" or "Council on Aging."

Vocational schools

I recently turned a midweek vacation day into a low-cost "me day" by taking advantage of the services offered to seniors at the local vocational school. For a mere $20, I received a facial, a hot paraffin wax hand treatment, a scalp massage and manicure. The prices are reasonable, and the students are knowledgeable and pleasant. Everything is done under the direct supervision and guidance of instructors. You could pay much more elsewhere, but why would you?

After my pampering, I walked down the hall to the student-run restaurant where I was treated to an all-you-can-eat array of wonderful food choices -- beverage and desserts included -- for only $8. It included a carving station, soup, salad and sides.

Also, the school puts on a play every year and offers free admission to seniors during the dress rehearsal.

Tax breaks

Not all discounts are small change. Check out the laws in your area to see if you qualify for a reduction on your property taxes. Call your local tax assessor to see what's available where you live.

Bottom line? Growing older has its benefits. Enjoy them. If a business doesn't have a policy that's clearly visible, don't be afraid to ask.

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