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Spending & saving

Cashing in on seniors discounts Add to ...

I have an idea for a new business venture: fake IDs for boomers. The amount of money a person can save by taking advantage of seniors discounts is nothing to laugh at, and these markdowns can start as early as age 50. Maybe those places where kids go to get their phony bar passes should think about this emerging opportunity.

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Let me give you some perspective on the potential savings. Let's pretend we have a couple, both 65 years old, who are living in Toronto and planning a weekend getaway to Ottawa.

They take local transit to Union Station. Regular fare is $3 per person, but they get each ticket for $2, a 33-per-cent reduction (they also save this on the way home). From Union Station, they take VIA Rail to Ottawa. On the particular dates I selected for a return ticket, they were able to save about $15 each off the regular $140 rate, which is just over 10 per cent. (It's also possible to get a companion ticket for free according to SeniorYears.com.)

They take a cab from the train station to their hotel downtown and save 10 per cent on the $20 fare, or $2. Upon check-in, they receive 15 per cent off their $135-a-night rate, which equals $40.50 over two nights.

For the two and a half days they are in town, they choose to eat mostly at restaurants that offer seniors discounts, which average about 10 per cent, so call it $25 savings in food. I could go on and on, but let's wrap up and say they take in a few museum visits (at 20-per-cent off the $48 admission, that's $8 in savings) and go see a movie (another 25-per-cent off, which knocks $5.50 from the $21.50 price of tickets).

This weekend excursion has netted about $115 in savings without the free companion ticket from VIA. Assuming they did get the freebie ticket, this balloons to $240 in savings versus the cost for non-seniors.

Deeper discounts can be had, too. Look into CARP ( Canadian Association of Retired Persons), as members are entitled to special discounts. Also: SeniorYears.com and Seniors-Day.ca are two websites I stumbled upon while doing some cursory research. They both track seniors discounts for Canadians.

I'm sure there are some people clinging to their youth who might not like to think of themselves as "seniors" as early as 50, but the smorgasbord of discounts available is plentiful. I would suggest asking if a seniors discount is available for every purchase you make.

Follow on Twitter: @preetbanerjee

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