In my forties I delighted in buying AARP memberships as 50th birthday gifts for my friends to remind them they were now officially “over the hill.” You can imagine their delight in doing the same for me when I turned 50. I remember the disbelief in realizing that I was really a senior citizen. I let my gift membership lapse after the first year.

Now, 18 years later, there is no denying I am a full-blown senior. The increasing amount of time I have to spend on maintaining my health and the increasing episodes of forgetting where I placed my reading glasses are not something that I really relish.

Despite the challenges of aging, there are a few perks that come with the status, including senior discounts. These are available at retail and grocery stores, restaurants, cruises, hotels, rental cars, airlines, internet service, entertainment venues, national parks, and more. Find a complete list at Seniorliving.org or TheSeniorList.com.

It surprised me to learn that many of these discounts kick in at age 55. When I reached that age, the frugal part of me decided to ask for the discount at a restaurant. It didn’t go well. The restaurant didn’t question giving me the discount, but I discovered a part of me didn’t feel that I deserved a discount at age 55. My frugal part and this part had a spirited discussion in my mind, one insisting I take the restaurant up on their generous offer and the other showering me with guilt and shame because I didn’t need the discount and would be selfish and greedy if I took it. The later part won the argument, and I paid the full price.

I am not alone discovering that claiming senior discounts can trigger some unexpected emotions. Two factors shaping the money scripts behind those emotions are probably fear and denial.

You may, as I did, feel shame about taking a senior discount if you can afford to pay full price. You might fear that others would see you as cheap or miserly.

You might find yourself thinking, “Am I really old enough for this?” or “I don’t feel like a senior.” The money scripts here are often tied to the fear of aging and the defense mechanism of denial. If I don’t use the discount, then I am not that old. It doesn’t seem logical intellectually, but it makes perfect sense if skipping the discount holds back a flood of difficult emotions around aging.

To begin reframing money scripts like these, start by acknowledging with compassion those difficult feelings about aging. You might also consider some of the following:

Start small. If the idea of a senior discount makes you uncomfortable, begin with a minor, low-pressure one like a reduced-price coffee or movie ticket.

Focus on the benefit. Instead of getting stuck on the “senior” label, think of the experiences the discounts enables, such as a chance to try a new restaurant.

Spread the joy. Turn your discount into something positive for others. Use your savings to treat a friend, donate to a cause you care about, or even leave a larger tip for a server.

Remember, it’s marketing. No one forces businesses to offer senior discounts. Companies do so because it’s ultimately good for them if you do business with them instead of their competitors. It’s smart marketing aimed at a demographic that brings income to the business.

Senior discounts aren’t just about age; they’re about a lifetime of work and contributions and a way of giving back to you. They also allow you to stretch your income and enjoy more experiences. You’ve earned the right to enjoy them.

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