Most of us spend our working life dreaming of retirement – that time when we’re finally able to do all those things we’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time whilst holding down a job. But the long-awaited holidays and hobbies can be costly and often difficult to manage on a fixed income.
But just because you have stopped earning a wage, doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on your quality of life. With a third of the population over the age of 50, a growing number of companies are targeting “silver shoppers” with discounts in an attempt to get them to spend at their business.
With that in mind, here’s how to make the most of your age.
Seeing the world needn’t cost the earth
When it comes to travelling locally, older people are entitled to a free bus pass and a minimum concession of free off-peak travel on a local bus anywhere in England. For more information and how to apply, contact your local authority.
If you frequently travel by train, chances are that you'll benefit from a senior railcard. For just £30 for the annual version and £70 for the three-year version, this card entitles holders to a third off standard or first-class fares. Find out more at Senior Railcard.
For coach travellers, there is no national concessionary scheme, but it is always worth asking for any available discounts. For just £10 (plus £2.50 p&p), for instance, National Express offers a Senior Coachcard for people who are 60 or over which gives you a third off your travel throughout the year. What’s more, those who are flexible with their travel plans can travel anywhere in the UK (excluding airports) for just £15 on Tuesdays, provided they book three days in advance. See National Express Senior Coachcard to find out more.
If you fancy heading to Europe by rail and are flexible with your schedule, the Eurostar offers discounted rates for those aged 60 and over. You will usually have to travel on midday and midweek trains and book your tickets in advance.
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Learn for less
Have you thought about using your newly-acquired spare time to learn a new skill? If you have, then check out the University of the Third Age (U3A).
This nationwide network of learning groups is aimed at encouraging older people no longer in full-time employment to share their knowledge, skills and interests in a friendly environment.
The courses on offer vary, with everything from stained glass to Scrabble and country dancing to computer skills. Annual memberships cost around £15 with a small charge for each study group attended, ordinarily £1 per week for a two-hour session. Find your local group and visit u3a.org.uk or phone 020 8466 6139.
How to claim discounts if you are over 50
Take the heat out of energy bills
Household energy bills can eat into a big chunk of your monthly budget. Why not reduce this spend to free up cash for your recreational spending?
For instance, if you were born on or before 5 August 1953 (and meet other qualifying criteria throughout the week specified on gov.uk), you’re eligible for a winter fuel payment of up to £300.
If you get certain benefits, for instance, state pension, pension credit or jobseeker’s allowance, you will usually get it automatically – otherwise you may have to claim.
If you didn’t receive it and think you qualify then download the gov.uk form or call 0800 731 0160.
For those on pension credit, you will also be eligible for Cold Weather Payments if the temperature drops – worth £25 for every seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
What’s more, the Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help you implement energy saving measures such as free cavity wall and loft insulation. The best place to start is the Energy Saving Trust 0300 123 1234.
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Dine out with discounts
Food-lovers who want to cut the cost of restaurant bills should check out a free Diamond Club dining card, which has meal offers for the over-50s at more than 100 pubs and restaurants around the UK. Discounts tend to be valid Monday to Friday and typically offer 25% off your food bill. To apply online and find participating locations, visit Diamond Club.
When it comes to the theatre and cinema, discount tickets are often available for over 60s. For instance, selected Vue Cinemas offer Seniors screenings for the over 60s. A free hot drink and a biscuit are included in the cost of admission. To find out what is playing in your local area, head to Vue.
Odeon Silver Cinema offers cinema tickets from just £3 for those over 55. What’s more, you can relax and enjoy free tea, coffee, and biscuits when you arrive, which gives you more time unwind and catch up with friends before the film starts. To view screening schedules and buy advance tickets visit Odeon.
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Sightsee on a shoestring
For the culture vultures, most museums offer concessions for senior citizens, while those who enjoy looking round lovely buildings and gardens can find reduced memberships at the National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk) and English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk).
For instance, the National Trust senior membership currently costs £47.50 per year as long as they have been a member for at least five years in the past 10. A couple with one person over 60 can join for £78. Senior membership for National Trust Scotland costs £31.20 (including a 25% discount for the first year) and includes access to properties throughout Britain.
Similarly, those over 60 you can get unlimited access to over 400 historic places with an English Heritage senior membership, costing £41 for single membership or £63 for a couple.
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