Please Give Me My Discount. I am Older!

GrannySkewersSomething About Nothing by Julie Seedorf- Published in the Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel week of March 24.

It might surprise you know to know I am a senior citizen. All right, it’s no surprise because I am always telling you I am old. I happen to like being a senior citizen. I became a senior citizen at the age of 55 when I could order off of the senior menu at Perkins Family Restaurant. I loved it. It was great to get a few benefits for growing older.

One of the perks of growing older are senior citizen discounts. I have heard the arguments against these discounts because many people think senior citizens have a lot of money and don’t need the discounts. I suppose that is opening a can of worms.

There are many senior citizens who struggle to make ends meet. They worked hard all of their life, paid in to Social Security and worked at a time where there were not retirement accounts. They did what they had to do to put food on their table for their family.

There wasn’t any extra to save for that retirement. Many salaries were not what they are today even if you were a business owner. Senior citizen discounts are very valuable to these people.

I was 55 nine years ago. You can do the math to figure how old I am now. I haven’t in all those years thought too much about senior discounts until recently. I wasn’t aware of all the discounts out there for seniors.

I was aware that my local grocery store, Wells Marketplace Foods, offered a discount for senior citizens on Wednesdays. They are very good about applying that discount without us asking for it on Wednesday. I knew Wednesdays were a big day for those who live in our Broadway Apartments complex as the occupants must be over a certain age to live there. Wednesdays is grocery day for the older generation in my community. I knew the new Kiester Market offers senior discounts, too.

I happened to be in Mankato on a Tuesday and visited their local Hy-Vee store. I presented my coupons to the clerk, I am a coupon shopper and the clerk asked me if there were any other discounts. I looked at her with a confused face and she leaned forward so as to not embarrass me or her, just in case she was wrong, if I wanted to apply my senior discount. Of course, I did. Apparently at Hy-Vee in Mankato Hilltop and downtown they have two days where they offer senior discounts. I believe they are Monday and Tuesday.

I started thinking about all the discounts I might be missing. I started asking around. Juba’s in Blue Earth quit senior discounts in favor of spreading the discounts around in the place of discounts on gasoline.

The Hy-Vee in Owatonna offers senior discounts on Tuesdays. Hy-Vee in Albert Lea and Austin does not offer senior discounts, nor does Nelson’s Market Place. They may have other offers in place that I do not know about. However, Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Albert Lea does offer a senior discount. Check with the store for the day.

I have started asking each business I visit and make a purchase if they have senior discounts. I learned that at most places you have to ask. I have received a senior discount at Applebee’s and found out that starts at age 60. I could have had savings for many years as I dined in their establishment. I didn’t ask. Cost Cutters, a movie theater, Michaels and Herberger’s are a few other places that gave me a discount recently. Discounts vary by city and state. Many companies leave their discount plans up to local stores which is the case with the Hy-Vee chain.

It is no secret that I am doing freelance writing work and recently I have been asked to do a column twice a month called “Senior Cents” for one of my gigs.

I am excited to find out what all is out there for someone that is “older.” I will be researching restaurants, hotels, businesses and Internet for what is available for seniors in the southern Minnesota area.

I am excited to be able to help senior citizens save a little money and hopefully along the way I will meet many new people like myself. We’re not getting older; we’re getting better and having fun doing it.

After all as Doris Roberts quoted, “The minute you’re born, you’re getting older. Who can argue with that?”

 

Another Reward Card? My Wallet is Full.

Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf published January 27, 2014

My wallet is getting fatter. Unfortunately it isn’t getting fatter with money or even credit cards. It is getting fatter with all those rewards cards that we have to carry to get rewards when we visit a business.

Don’t get me wrong, reward people, I love my rewards cards. I must admit my life was a little simpler when I didn’t reap the rewards of my shopping.

It seems every business is jumping on the rewards-card bandwagon. There are Hy-Vee Gas cards, Panera rewards, Shopko rewards, Cherry Berry rewards, Pizza Ranch rewards, Pet-Co rewards, Office Max rewards; and those are only a few of the many.

There are times when I have to stop and remember where I am when checking out. Yes, I occasionally do forget where I am, in the I need that frenzy of shopping. I get to the register, dump my products onto the little conveyer belt that moves the items closer to the cashier and then I fumble in my purse to find the right card. Of course, while I am fumbling and digging through my billfold I almost and sometimes do, drop it on the floor.

The solution would be to be prepared by digging out my card before I get to the register but what fun would that be? It would not give those shoppers coming behind me the excuse to check their cellphone, talk to the person behind them or glare at me for holding up the line.

Things are made a little simpler when it comes to coupons; we don’t always have to have to the paper coupon anymore. We can store the coupon on our cellphone. Of course, that means that not only do we have to pull our rewards cards out, we have to hold our cellphone and get it to the place on our phone where we have the coupons. The people behind me always love that.

Some stores are making it easier if you are a prepared and organized person. I actually don’t know too many of those. If you are an organized person, you can go to the store’s website and put the store coupon on your rewards card. That does make it simpler.

Let’s add being a senior citizen to the mix. Senior citizens at many places get senior citizen discounts. Some are widely advertised where others are kept under wraps. You have to know what stores have senior citizen discounts and then you have to ask for them when you are at the checkout. You also have to know in many stores, what day they cater to senior citizens. There is also another little catch.

Some chains of stores don’t have the same senior citizen policy in every store. The days differ, and in one case I have found that the liquor store offers a senior citizens discount, but the actual other store connected doesn’t.

I am tired writing this. Being a smart consumer these days is tricky. One day I was shopping with my daughter. A sale of something that I needed didn’t start until two hours later. We were in the store at the wrong time and had to be home in another community before the sale started.

I was disappointed but accepting. My daughter pulls out her cellphone, finds the ad on the phone and calls and finds a clerk in the store. She asks if there is any way we could get the discount early since we couldn’t be there at 3 p.m.

The clerk said they would check and came back and said it was in the system already so they would honor the sale. We should show the clerk the ad and tell them they said it was fine to honor it early. We checked out, and I got the sale price. I would have never thought of that in my old age. Shopping used to be simpler.

That is my point. Life is getting challenging for those of us with an older brain. Shopping now is somewhat of a puzzle that we have to put together to get our perks and our prices. If you have the time — and senior citizens are supposed to have the time — then its fun.

Younger people pick up on this easier, but families with young children don’t have the time. Of course, they don’t have to search out senior citizen discounts, but with their lives on fast forward all of the time, keeping track of all the rewards if they want the perks can be mind-boggling.

I liked it when J.C. Penney cut its prices and did away with sales. Their prices were wonderful, and it was great shopping in the stores. Unfortunately, many consumers didn’t feel that way and J.C. Penney lost money. We are programmed to go for the deal.

I can’t wait to see what the stores think up for us in the future. I am researching the hidden senior citizen discounts in preparation for an article later on to aid seniors in finding their way through the discount maze.

But I should warn you, the last time I was in a maze, a corn maze, I needed to be rescued. If you don’t hear from me during my research you will know I am hopelessly lost under the pile of reward cards. Listen for my call for help and rescue me.