Being empty nesters now and unrestricted by family and work schedules, it would be nice to see the growing number of baby boomers traveling, fine dining, and visiting movie theaters when time permits. Debt concerns, however, can get in their way of enjoying these kinds of activities upon retirement.
According to a report by the Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC), 39.9 percent of Americans age 56 to 61 have too much debt, and 35.5 percent said they could not even come up with $2,000 if unexpected needs like a car or house repair or an out-of-pocket medical bill came up the following month. The MRRC report also indicated that 31.4 percent of the 2,983 respondents age 56 to 61 have credit card debts while 23.4 percent have unpaid medical bills, and another 21.2 percent have debts from alternative financial services like rent-to-own stores, pawnshops, and payday, auto title, and tax refund loans. These statistics signify a fragile financial capacity on the part of the boomers.
For those with weakened capacity to function, live, and enjoy their lifestyle of choice due to financial concerns, and all other baby boomers practicing personal finance, an AARP membership can be of help.
As a membership organization for Americans 50 and older, AARP offers discounts and freebies that go beyond the basic needs. From travel to fine dining, AARP third-party providers arrange quite a number of markdowns for baby boomers to remain in control of their lives throughout the years. Below are five little-known benefits associated with AARP membership:
1. Travel deals
Don’t you know that members of AARP received up to 20 percent off from hotels and resorts like Best Western, Choice, Hilton Honors Portfolio, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, LaQuinta Inns & Suites, MGM Resorts International TM, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Wyndham Worldwide? According to Emily Brandon of MSN Money, travel can be a tremendous new retirement expense for seniors. With a 20 percent discount and a dose of planning, boomers can still get away and have an enjoyable time while paying off debts.
2. Dining and entertainment discounts
AARP members can receive discounts at Regal Entertainment Group, Denny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Landry’s Restaurants. They can also receive a 20 percent discount from Carrabba’s Italian Grill every Wednesday for lunch and dinner, 15 percent discount from Outback Grill for both lunch and dinner from Monday to Thursday and lunch on weekends, and 10 percent discount from Bonefish Grill.
3. Free spouse membership
For an annual membership of $16, anyone 50 years or over can make use of all AARP membership benefits. This includes free membership for a spouse or partner. Renewal of and new membership can be done online through the organization’s website.
4. Dating site discount
This perk is the counterpart of the free spouse membership. Yes, AARP has a dating site also. It has a pick-a-date feature where members can state their interest in a more conversational tone. According to Christina Lanzito of AARP, food-related activities like checking out a new restaurant or seeking out the best chocolate cake in town are the most popular dates among boomers. Attending live music shows and volunteering for particular causes are also popular.
5. AARP VIVA
Representing about 16 percent of the total population in the country, Latinos are one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States. And to cater to the boomers from this segment, AARP introduced VIVA. AARP VIVA is a bilingual multimedia platform for Hispanics 50+ and their families, covering topics on health, financial security, global aging, entertainment, and travel.
In no way will an AARP membership solve the debt statistics mentioned earlier. But with the freebies and discounts that come with AARP membership, the burden of worrying about spending too much is lessened for the already weighed-down baby boomers.
Words of caution: Some former members of AARP complain about junk mail and email solicitations. Assuming the complaints are true, boomers should weigh the gains and losses of AARP membership. If receiving junk mail and eemail solicitations does not bother a boomer at all, then by all means take advantage of the big value in these five little-known benefits of AARP membership.