NEW YORK — There's a silver lining to getting older: a bevy of discounts for you to enjoy, from free samples to discounts on car rentals. To get many of these special deals, you don't have to be anywhere near 65. In fact, some can be enjoyed when you turn 50. • "Every penny counts," said Jodi Furman, author of a blog called Livefabuless.com. "All you have to do is mention your age." • Here are some strategies and tips:
DON'T BE SHY: Many stores and restaurants don't broadcast their discounts. Even on their websites, the offers can be hard to find. So just ask the manager what's available.
"Today people are more comfortable with their age — and asking for discounts," said Alison Jatlow Levy, a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon.
JOIN AARP AND OTHER GROUPS: Once you're 50, you can sign up to be a member of AARP, which provides benefits such as discounts and freebies to its members through affiliate partners. Other organizations, such as the American Seniors Organization, offer benefits, too.
RESEARCH ONLINE: Discounts keep changing, so you need to keep surfing the Web to make sure they're current. AARP.org has a tab dedicated to discounts. It includes a grocery coupon center powered by Coupons.com and has links to such retailers as arts and crafts chain Michael's, which offers a 20 percent savings every Tuesday for AARP members. It also has a section on free samples of top brands in food and beauty.
Levy encourages consumers to check out different websites that focus on discounts for the 50-and-over set.
Among the largest: seniordiscounts.com, which features more than 250,000 local listings. Other sites include free4seniors.com, allseniordeals.com and sciddy.com, which lets you search for discounts by your area code.
Furman advises the 50-plus age group to try a free app called Larky.com, which works on Apple and Android products. The app offers automatic reminders of your membership perks and discounts when you need them.
BE PREPARED: Make sure to bring your ID and your AARP card when you go out. Business establishments will probably want to see proof that you are the age you say.
The following are the types of discounts you can get:
RETAILERS: Many stores offer discounts. For example, Bealls offers "50 & Fabulous" discount days every Tuesday. The 15 percent discounts are valid at its stores only, and an ID is required. At Kohl's, every Wednesday, shoppers age 60 and older can save an extra 15 percent. The discount is not available online.
Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic chain offers 10 percent off every day for customers 65 and older. The discount can be combined with other coupons and discounts.
RESTAURANTS: Lots of eateries offer discounts, but most are limited to fast-food chains such as IHOP and Dunkin' Donuts. At Dunkin' Donuts, you can order any large or extra-large beverage and get a free doughnut, but you have to show your AARP card.
TRAVEL AND HOTELS: For many car rental companies, you have to be a member of AARP to take advantage of discounts being offered. Budget Rental Cars discounts rates by up to 10 percent.
Among the hotel chains that offer discounts are Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which operates under such names as Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Super 8 and Ramada. AARP members can save up to 20 percent off the best available rate at its hotels, according to Christine Da Silva, a spokeswoman at Wyndham Hotel Group.
Cruise bound? AARP members can save 5 percent on select Norwegian cruises.