13 Things Retirees Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

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Senior friends shopping
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Growing older has its advantages. As time passes, you get a little wiser. After retiring, you have more free time to channel that wisdom into doing the things you enjoy.

Even better, all that fun often can be had at a steep discount. There are many ways for seniors to get cheap — and even free — entertainment and services.

Some of these offers are available based on age or income while others are open to everyone — even those who have yet to reach their golden years.

Following are some things seniors can get for almost nothing.

1. Internet service

Senior internet
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If you use the internet strictly for the basics — such as emailing friends and family and occasionally surfing the web — there are options that can get you online for free.

For example, Juno offers 10 hours of free dial-up service each month. NetZero offers a similar package of 10 free hours.

To step up to broadband coverage, check out Consumer Action’s list of providers that offer lower-cost options to low-income households.

2. Tax help

Senior taxes
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Few of us enjoy tax time. Tax laws are complex, leading to headaches and worries for many people who take a DIY approach to filing.

If you’d prefer to avoid that worry during retirement, consider turning to the federal government’s free Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program.

It offers help for older taxpayers, particularly those age 60 and above, with specialized assistance on questions regarding pensions and other retirement-related issues.

3. Medicare assistance

Senior health care
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As with taxes — or, frankly, anything else attached to the federal government — Medicare can be overwhelmingly complicated.

If you are lost at sea trying to navigate this federal health insurance program primarily for seniors, consider turning to your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

As we detail in “14 Things That Are Free With Medicare,” SHIP offices provide complimentary health insurance benefit counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers.

4. Prescription drugs

Senior prescription drugs
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Many seniors take a handful of prescription medications every day to keep disease at bay. The cost of such drugs can be high, so every bit of savings helps.

Medicare Part D coverage and most Medicare Advantage plans (the alternative to Original Medicare) cover some prescription drug costs for seniors. But if you don’t qualify for Medicare or are simply looking for more opportunities to cut drug costs, see if you’re eligible for any prescription assistance programs.

You can learn more about them through these organizations and websites:

For more savings tactics available to people of any age or income level, check out:

5. Medical services

A young black doctor examines a senior patient
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While Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurers can vary as to what they cover and what they cost, all plans must pay for certain medical services and other expenses. In fact, all plans must cover a number of services in full — meaning people on Medicare pay no additional cost for those services.

These “freebies” include annual wellness visits, flu shots and certain other vaccines, and screenings such as a colonoscopy, for example.

6. Food and drinks at restaurants

Senior restuarant
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Scoring free food and beverages at restaurants can be tricky. Some restaurant chains offer senior freebies on a by-location basis. Others tend to be a bit tight-lipped about their price breaks.

We detail some in “27 Restaurant Chains That Offer Senior Discounts,” but the best way to discover these hidden freebies and discounts is to simply ask when you order.

Also, if you join a senior membership organization such as AARP, you’ll be entitled to a host of discounts at restaurants, among other places. Joining is not free, but the money you save from taking advantage of those discounts could easily exceed the cost of the membership.

7. Store discounts

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It’s not just restaurants that offer “senior” discounts to people as young as age 50. Shop at the right retailers, and you can boost your savings considerably just by showing proof of your age.

8. Education

Senior education
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It’s never too late to learn. Many colleges and universities offer free or heavily discounted classes to seniors.

Some of these programs are especially outstanding values, offering tuition-free courses for credit to people age 60 or older, as we illustrate in “9 Colleges That Offer Free Tuition for Seniors.” Theoretically, you could pursue a degree for free this way.

Many other universities let seniors audit classes for free. This means they get all the education but, alas, do not receive credits toward a degree.

9. Tax breaks

A senior couple goes over paperwork with a professional in their kitchen
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Retirees often are eligible for federal income tax breaks, such as tax deductions and even tax credits — although many retirees overlook these opportunities to lower their tax bill.

For example, people age 65 and older who do not itemize their tax deductions generally are eligible for a larger standard deduction than younger taxpayers. That translates to a free reduction in the federal tax bill of eligible seniors.

10. Public transportation

Senior public transportation
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As we age, getting around can become a challenge. Eyesight and other physical issues might prevent us from driving, and taxi and ride-sharing services can be too expensive for anyone on a fixed income.

Luckily, many communities — such as Florida’s Miami-Dade County — offer free transportation options to seniors. So check with your city, county or state to find out if it offers a similar service.

11. Vacation discounts

outdoor exercise
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Free public transportation is just one example of the types of travel discounts that you can score after a certain age.

If you’re 50 or older, you are likely eligible for price breaks on everything from rental cars to cruise ships — not to mention hotel rooms.

12. Gym membership

Senior exercise
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You may be able to get a discounted or free gym membership through your health insurer, particularly if you’re aged 65 or older.

Some insurance plans offer savings on fitness club memberships as preventive care.

Some Medicare plans come with a SilverSneakers membership, which gives eligible seniors access to thousands of gym and fitness center locations across the country.

Contact your insurance plan to find out if it offers SilverSneakers, or fill out the eligibility form at the SilverSneakers website.

13. Access to national parks

People canoeing in Grand Teton National Park
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Anyone can get into most of America’s more than 400 national parks for free, but roughly a quarter of them charge entrance fees. There are a few ways for seniors to get free or discounted lifetime access to all of them.

If you’ve purchased annual passes in the past, and are age 62 or older, you may be eligible for a free lifetime pass. If you have a permanent disability, you may be eligible for an Access Pass, which allows free entry for life.

If neither of these are the case, seniors can purchase an annual pass at a 75% discount: $20. They can also get a lifetime pass for the rate most other people pay for a single year: $80.

Many state park systems also offer senior discounts.

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