Taking Care of an Old Friend

Throughout our lives, we on occasion build a relationship that is satisfying, meaningful, and mutually beneficial. True friends are hard to come by and sometimes even harder to hold onto. However, if you are careful and treat your friend well and do not abuse her, you can look forward to many happy years together. It is all about really caring and doing what is right when it is needed no matter the cost. If you do that, good things will happen. You and your car will have a long and satisfying relationship.

Who doesn’t have a picture tucked away with them proudly situated in front of a bright, shiny car, a beaming smile of happy ownership spread across their face? How many weekends have been spent washing and polishing and spiffing-up that old friend, meticulously cleaning every inch inside and out? How may oil changes done exactly at 3000 miles just as the owner’s manual states? A car – especially a first car or one that you have lovingly owned for many years – is deserving of and generally receives your unwavering care and attention. That is what you do for a good friend.

Now with your retirement and a focus on maintaining costs, what better a time to keep that baby going healthy and strong. Not just pride of ownership, but a genuine retirement budget plus.

Still going strong

The Bay Area News Group recently announced that 100,000 miles is no longer the “death knell” for your car. “It was once a huge red flag: When a car’s odometer would hit 100,000, it was almost a magic threshold that meant the car was probably worn out”. Today, with regular checkups and computerized testing tools, new synthetic oil, high performance gas, higher quality tires, protective waxes and polishes, your car can be with you for a long, long time. And what a good old friend:

  • No monthly payments
  • Classic car that looks great and you look great driving
  • Virtually no registration fee
  • Maybe even runs on regular gas!

Taking care of that friend

With a little attentiveness on your part as to how your car is running, some preventative maintenance to cover the basic needs,  and some tender loving care, you will save money on major repairs and truly enjoy your four-wheeled-friend.

1)    Find your owner’s manual and heed it – guidelines on regular checkups, when to replace parts that are likely to be wearing out, all the important details. If you cannot find your original manual, there are places on-line to either download or pay for a copy. Here is a site for more recent models (1990 and onward) offering some help. eHow offers some additional ideas for older models including going back to the original dealership, calling a junkyard, or checking on eBay.

2)    Cars can be thirsty so be sure to keep an eye on important fluids – oil, engine coolant, automatic transmission, brake fluid – keep them filled and clean, flushing when recommended in your owner’s manual. Today’s synthetic oils will lube the engine better and are designed for a longer life.

3)    Don’t fill up when you see a tanker at the station – dumping hundreds of gallons of gas can stir up sediment in the tank that will do your engine no good. Come back tomorrow.

4)    Regular oil changes – just like when your friendship first started.

5)    Keep your tire pressure where it is supposed to be – this helps assure better, more even wear of tires as well as maximum mileage. Check tires when they are cold for accurate measurement.

6)    Regular inspection – just like you, an annual preventative inspection can help find problems early before they escalate into something more serious. And not just one of those fast lube places but go to a mechanic that can put the car on a rack and check all major components. A trusted mechanic is in fact similar to a trusted doctor so when you find one, hang on.

7)    As soon as you feel something wrong, an unknown sound from the engine, unfamiliar vibrations, when something smells like it is burning, or when any engine warning lights come on, get it checked out.

The saying goes that friends are forever. Maybe not FOREVER, but with a little care and attention, well beyond 100,000 miles…

 

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.


Senior Citizen Discounts – Get Your Money Worth

Everyone loves a deal and one benefit of getting up in age is the discounts you now qualify for. Get ready for travel deals, vacation packages, weekend getaways, and discounts across the board. And with the 75 million baby boomers starting to enter retirement, get ready to let the good times roll! Join me on a journey through some of the deals out there for retired folks – some are just too good to pass up.

Before we set sail, I discovered a service today called Groupon which sends you special deals daily for everything from restaurants to spas to leisure events in your local area. If you like the offer, you sign up and if enough others sign up to justify the special price being offered (businesses have to make money too and if enough people sign up, they do) you get it. For example, today my special offer is from a local Mediterranean restaurant offering $15 worth of food for $7 if I buy the Groupon. Put your collective buying power to good use.

Where the deals are

Travel – A good place to start your travel planning is http://expedia-aarp.com/ , a powerful partnership between our friends at AARP and Expedia. A familiar Expedia front end with AARP driven senior discounts.

  • Hotel dealsHyatt Hotels & Resorts – 62 and over receive up to 50% discount in Continental US and Canada; Choice Hotels International – 60+ earns you a 10% discount with advanced reservations http://www.choicehotels.com/en/deals/senior-rates?sid=tSoy._Oaj0g06L.1 ; Marriott Hotels offers 15% for 62+ seven days a week; Best Western – minimum 10% discount for 55+.
  • Airlines – so I ran down the usual suspects and visited their websites in search of senior citizen specials on airfares. My challenge was finding any specifics as no senior discounts were specifically mentioned. I recommend you work directly with the airline or through an aggregator like Expedia or Travelocity. But here are a few helpful details from www.cheapflights.com :
    • American Eagle and American Connection may offer senior fares in some domestic markets for seniors age 65 or older.
    • United Airlines – Travelers age 55 and older can enjoy savings on travel and other travel partners – as much as 50 per cent off at luxury hotels and resorts – by joining Silver Wings Plus.
    • Northwest offers senior discount fares in select markets.
    • Continental offers senior fares to select travel destinations for passengers who are 65 and older.
    • Delta Shuttle offers senior fares for travelers age 62 and above.
  • Amtrak – 15% discount on adult rail fare with some exclusion for ages 62+.

Entertainment

  • Restaurants – kind of challenging as we have different restaurants in our neighborhoods. But here are a few: IHOP offers 10% discount for 55+; Mrs. Fields 10% for 60+ (mmmm); AppleBees offers a Golden Apple Card for 55+ patrons with discounts and deals.
    • If you are willing to buy a coupon at a discount to sample a local restaurant, take a gander at Restaurant Discount Center www.restaurant.com. Enter your zip code and view the options in your own backyard. And remember Groupon that I mentioned earlier.
    • Fast food places have a wide variety of different offers for seniors from coffee to fries.
  • Movie discount dealsAMC Theatres – guests 60 and over receive 20-30% discount on general admission
  • National Parks – with $10 purchase of America the Beautiful Senior pass – valid for the lifetime of the owner – free entrance. http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html

Shopping Kohl’s offers 15% discount for 62+ on Wednesdays (day may vary by store, you can find Kohl’s coupons and promo codes at http://www.couponsherpa.com/kohls/); Ross has 10% off Tuesdays for 55+

Health and WellnessKmart – Gold K prescription discount program offers up to 20% discount on prescription medication for ages 50+.

As I said, this is but a sample of many discounts available to senior adventurers. If you want to do some additional research, here are some  good links to investigate:
http://www.seniordiscounts.com – register for access to discounts on pretty much everything. The only requirement is that you are over 50.

http://www.shopathome.com/Free-Coupons.aspx – free coupons for just about everything based on your location.

And don’t forget our tried and true friends at AARP. Visit their site http://www.aarp.org/benefits-discounts/services_discounts/ for a long list of available discounts. For the annual membership fee of $16, it is hard to go wrong.

If you have a favorite link or insight into good senior citizen discounts, feel free to comment or send an email my way.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.