A Billionaire Can Teach You Plenty About Penny Pinching


Going gray can certainly pay. At least that’s what New York City’s mayor Mike Bloomberg says, who at the age of 66 proudly takes advantage of his city’s half-price senior subway fare and discount movie tickets (even though he is worth some $11.5 billion). “I recently went to the movies with my girlfriend and—I don't know if it was the first time—I said, ‘One for her and one senior for me,’” related Bloomberg at a recent town hall meeting. If New York City’s billionaire mayor is really looking to profit from his senior status, he should check out these hot discounts.

Baseball Tickets: Major League Baseball just started, which means mature baseball fans can start capitalizing on the many senior days offered by MLB teams. Mayor Bloomberg can play hooky on one of the New York Yankees eight senior (age 60 and over) days, where for a mere $5 he can watch Derek Jeter play in historic Yankee Stadium before it is torn down at the end of the season. Consult your favorite team’s box office for details, and ask about freebies. For example, an upcoming Baltimore Orioles giveaway will hookup the first 3,000 fans 55 and over with 1983 World Series 25th Anniversary tote bags and seat cushions.

Cell Phone Options for Seniors: Many seniors want the security of having a cell phone for emergencies and travel, but don’t want to be bogged down with extras that can often add high costs. With AT&T’s (T) Senior Nation 200 plan and Verizon’s (VZ) Nationwide 65 plus, seniors can opt for simple plans with less allotted monthly minutes. The two plans are virtually identical, and provide 200 “Anytime Minutes,” 500 “Night and Weekend Minutes” and unlimited minutes for calling to other AT&T or Verizon users, all for $29.99 a month. “Seniors are becoming much more savvy,” says Kristin Fabos, executive director of SeniorNet, a non-profit that provides computer training to older adults. “A big factor in their adoption of cell phones has been price. Seniors are price sensitive, so the fact companies are offering lower rates makes them much more appealing.”

Hit the Slopes for Free: Spring skiing is still possible and Monarch Mountain in Colorado is the only ski area in the country to offer free lift tickets to skiers 70 and over. “We look at it like if you’re still skiing at 70 years old you deserve to be skiing for free,” says Eric Ramsey, a spokesman for the resort. And ski they do. According to Ramsey, the resort issued over 250 free season passes and 2,000 free day passes to the 70 and over crowd this winter. (Next winter, he says, they’re dropping the age requirement to 69.)

Get a Senior-Specific Bank Account: The over-55 consumer group is the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., so it’s only natural that most of the major banks have senior specific programs. Bank of America’s (BAC) Advantage of Seniors checking, Wachovia’s (WB) Crown Classic Banking and Access Fifty Checking and Wells Fargo’s (WFC) Elder Services all target seniors with perks like no fee travelers checks, free or discounted bill pay, preferred rates on money market savings, CDs and IRA accounts, and free or discounted identity protection.

Find the Right Companion: Whether you’ve been married for half a century or are suddenly single, it’s never too late to bring home a new furry friend. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, owning a pet has a “statistically significant effect on the physical health of older people,” due in part to the fact that pet owners are “more physically active than non-pet owners.”

But you don’t have to shell out for a pure bred puppy to reap the rewards of pet ownership. The Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) “Seniors for Seniors” program matches senior (seven and over) cats and dogs with senior (60 and over) humans at a reduced rate of $35, almost a 50% discount. The program also includes several helpful benefits to seniors on a fixed income, including a free veterinary examination, a set of vaccinations, and a free help line to call for advice. And, in the event you can no longer care for Fluffy, PAWS will always take him back free of charge.

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