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Tips on affording an enjoyable retirement

For those of us with retirement age looming, it’s a bittersweet time. If we thought that this would be a time of more travel, entertainment, and get-togethers with friends, we’re now wondering how much of that we can afford. Not only is the cost of living crisis pushing up household bills, but it’s also affecting the investments that fund pensions.

Not all is lost though. There are ways and means to reduce the cost of our deserved indulgences. Here are just a few suggestions.

Take advantage of senior memberships

If you enjoy taking a look at our national heritage, then consider senior membership of organisations such as the National Trust, the National Trust for Scotland, and English Heritage. At When They Get Older we’ve been members of the National Trust for many years, enjoying entry to many places around the country. Once I hit’senior’ age, I was able to claim a joint membership with my partner at a reduced cost.

Enjoy public transport discounts 

Public transport is well-known for offering discounts or even free transport for older people.

The availability of free and low-cost bus passes varies from one local authority to another – as does the availability of a good bus service. But if you’d prefer to leave the car at home and you have plenty of time to travel, the bus or underground might make a great way to go. Check with your local council for more details.

The Senior Railcard typically offers a third off rail fares in the UK. It costs £30 for one year or £70 for three years. I bought one of these a few years ago with many plans to visit friends around the country, only for the pandemic to put paid to travel for a couple of years. Now may be the time to re-visit my itinerary. As with everything nowadays, do watch out for scams offering too-good-to-be true deals on travel cards.

Meanwhile a Senior Coachcard typically offers a third off National Express coach fares in the UK. It costs £30 for one year or £70 for three years. I’ve not tried this, but we had an aunt who was a committed discount coach traveller from Devon to London on a regular basis.

According to government figures, the number of seniors taking advantage of the free pass bus scheme is down by a third since before the pandemic. The government is now trying to encourage more people back onto the buses. In England you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the State Pension age. If you live in London, you can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport when you’re 60, but only within London. In Wales you can get a bus pass when you reach 60. Contact your local authority for more information.

Seek out general discount cards and offers

If you’re happy to sign up for a subscription, you could find that the discounts on offer more than account for the initial cost.

For example, before the pandemic I used to regularly dine out with a group of friends at local restaurants. We found the tastecard invaluable – giving us discounts locally that made eating out that bit more affordable for mums with limited budgets.

Tastecard got in touch recently, and it was a surprise to find out that it can now be used for all sorts of indulgences beyond meals out, including coffee meetups, pizza deliveries and cinema visits.

Now tastecard has given me 3 months free membership, so I’m aiming to explore its local possibilities even further. In my part of the world there are offers on a variety of cuisines, including Zizzis, which is our pre-theatre dining of choice. And as we are just half an hour by train to the capital, we’ll be able to look at further restaurant deals in London.

Plan holidays in advance

I’m a last-minute holidaymaker, but once you have the freedom of retirement, it can make sense to plan in advance, as you’re likely to be able to save on flights and accommodation. If your dream is of planning your own experience, then there are independent travel companies who can help. Or if you’re looking primarily for a relaxing break in the city or sun, it’s worth taking a look at the package holiday companies.

If you’re looking for holidays that attract discounts for seniors, then Saga is a good starting point.

Find better value hotels

Many hotels offer discounts for seniors, typically 10% or more off the standard rate. Some hotels also offer additional benefits to seniors, such as free breakfast or late checkout. Contact hotels directly to hear about their offers.

And on a general basis whatever your age, it is always worth checking the price comparison sites such as Hotel.com, Booking.com and cozycozy.com.

Relax with spa days

Spa days are the epitome of a luxurious and relaxing day out for many of us. The good news is that many spas offer discounts for seniors, typically 10% or more off the standard price. Some spas may also offer free upgrades, priority booking, or other benefits. Again, you’ll learn more by contacting the spas directly or checking their websites.

This article is a collaboration with tastecard, but all opinions and experiences are those of When They Get Older.

Image licensed under Unsplash+ licence

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