By Jill Cataldo
Are senior discounts a right or a privilege? This week, readers share their concerns about shrinking, changing and vanishing discounts. Also, a creative reader offers her save-smart tip for cheaper meats. Take a peek inside my email inbox.
Dear Jill: This is a question about senior discounts. I went to the donut shop yesterday and requested the senior discount. To my surprise, they reduced it from 10 percent down to 5 percent! Does each store determine its own senior discount amount? I don’t know how other businesses handle this. — Phyllis S.
Dear Jill: I have a question about senior discounts, which are kind of like a coupon, so I hope you can help. A restaurant we frequent used to give the senior discount at age 55. Now they have a sign up saying it is age 60. That is not fair at all and I told the manager so. He said he was sorry, but they couldn’t afford to keep it at age 55. Isn’t there something that says they can’t change it, since it was 55 previously? Please help. — Audra T.
Before I jump into the topic of senior discounts, I should disclose that I’m just shy of 40 years old, so I’m writing from the perspective of someone who won’t qualify or enjoy them for another sixteen years or so. But I know how much my parents enjoy discounted dining, movies and additional senior savings.
With that said, senior discounts are voluntary, not mandatory. Any establishment offering a senior discount is doing so to encourage future, ongoing business. But the store, restaurant, theater – whatever the business may be – is absorbing the loss created by the discount. If a business is losing money or cannot afford to offer the discount, the company is free to adjust the amount of the discount, the age groups it is available to and, ultimately, whether or not they’ll continue to offer a senior discount. In today’s difficult economy, discounts help seniors save money, but if they’re affecting a business’ bottom line, the business has to sustain itself as well.
Now, let’s switch to the topic of saving on meat. Ann offers a great tip for saving on meats that she felt I overlooked in a previous column on meat coupons. I recommended looking for coupons for brand-name meats, as well as keeping an eye on your store’s deli/meat counter for promotions. But her tip is definitely worth mentioning, too.
Dear Jill: I am a big believer in and user of coupons and never miss your column. I never know when I might learn something new! In your column about coupons for fresh meat, one thing you forgot to mention is that while coupons for fresh meat are often hard to come by (except for name brands), the meat counter at the grocery store will often put coupons on meat that is getting close to the sell-by date. I will buy marked-down meat items and put them in my freezer for later use if it’s not something I can use right away. Yes, meat is still the largest part of my food budget expense-wise, but at least this way I feel like I've saved what I can and we still can enjoy meat or poultry most nights of the week. — Ann T.
Fantastic tip! I love picking up close-to-expiring meats at a discount, too. Two of my area supermarkets mark their meat down differently. One puts “peelie” coupons on the top for two, three or four dollars off, depending on how close the meat is to the best-buy date. The other simply reduces the price on the label. Either way, it’s a great way to bring the price down on meats. It never hurts to ask your store’s meat market if there are certain days that they drop the prices. Then you’ll know when to stop by and increase your odds of scoring some great deals!
Jill Cataldo Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.