In 2010, the average life expectancy was 78.7 years, and nearly a quarter of retirees said that finances were the biggest retirement challenge. Whether you've already retired, or are nearing it, the loss of income that comes with many retirements underscores the need to prioritize spending and find opportunities to save on everyday purchases. Here's a roundup of just a few of the perks that come with being a senior.

Though you may not self-identify as a senior at 50 years old, that's the age you can join the AARP and start reaping the benefits of senior discounts. For $16 a year (or less if you join for multiple years), joining the AARP opens up access to savings on travel, entertainment, technology, health services and even insurance.

Movie Discounts
According to the National Association of Theater Owners, the average cost of a movie ticket was near $8 in 2011, which means enjoying "dinner and a movie" as a retiree can add up quickly. Though most movie theaters offer some form of a senior discount, this is one area where spending a few moments investigating offers at your local theaters, both by phone and online, and being flexible in your schedule is worth the effort. For example, on Tuesdays AMC theatres offer a discount of 52% off standard adult prices for seniors who are at least 60 years old. A senior discount of just $2 is offered on the weekends.

The cost of food is steadily rising, but being a senior can offset those costs, based on where you shop. When it comes to senior discounts, locally owned grocery stores tend to be the most aggressive and blatant with their senior discount programs, though you can find savings at a few larger chains as well. Harris Teeter, for example, offers shoppers ages 60 and older a 5% discount on total purchases, every Thursday. Select locations at Kroger and Publix offer seniors savings too, though you'll need to inquire with customer service for the details offered at your location.

Apparel and Consumer Goods
Kohl's offers a 15% discount every Wednesday to shoppers who are 62 and older, and Ross Stores offer a 10% discount, on specific days, to customers who are 55 and older. Though the discount and participation varies by location, Banana Republic even extends a senior discount, so inquire with your sales person before you pay full price.

If you prefer to fly, Southwest Airlines offers discounts to travelers who are 65 years and older, and all senior fares are fully refundable. If you're not quite 65, it's also worth inquiring for potentially lower rates. According to, "Southwest Airlines has other discounted fares for those not meeting the above age requirements."

If you're at least 62 years old, Greyhound offers a 5% discount on ticket fare, and Amtrak discounts 15% from the lowest fare on most trains. If you're traveling on cross-border trains, Amtrak will discount 10% off fares for passengers who are at least 60 years old. Many hotels offer discounts for travelers, too. For example, Marriot properties extend travelers 62 and older a discount of 15%, and Hyatt reduces rates by as much as 50% for travelers of the same age. Holiday Inn Express and Doubletree hotels offer senior discounts for those 62 years and older, too.

Through its "Living More" program, Rite Aid offers seniors (age varies by state), the opportunity to save up to 20% on certain days, and 10% off of prescriptions every day. AARP members can also save 5% at Walgreen's pharmacies.

Car Services
If you're renting a car, this is one area where carrying an AARP discount can pay off. Hertz, National Car Rental, Enterprise and Budget Rent A Car all offer lower rates for AARP members. Though discounts vary by location, some Jiffy Lube and Midas service centers also offer a discount to seniors for auto repair and maintenance.

Food and Drinks
Senior savings are common at restaurants and fast food establishments, and range from free coffee, to drinks, to discounts off your total order. However, offers vary by location and many aren't actively advertised. For that reason, it's always worth inquiring about discounts with the server, provided that you're at least 50 years old. Chains known for their senior discounts include McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Applebee's, Arby's, Chilli's and Friendly's.

The Bottom Line
Though the recession has caused some retailers to pull back on senior discounts, they are anything but a thing of the past. No matter what you're buying, or where you're buying it, simply inquiring if a senior discount is available can lead to major savings. Speak up, and make it known that you're a senior.

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