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Do you qualify for a senior’s discount? You might be surprised

A BC Ferries vessel arrving in Bella Coola. Bella Coola is on the central coast, north of Vancouver Island, and is a destination for heliskiing.

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A yearly transit pass for low-income senior citizens in Calgary is a whopping $15. That's not a typo. The adult cash fare in Toronto for five trips on the TTC could get you a full year of transit access in Calgary. And if you don't qualify as "low income," it's still only $95.

I always thought those Grey Power commercials were overstating the anticipation of getting older in order to save money but after doing some digging, I might be changing my mind.

Seniors in British Columbia currently travel many B.C. Ferries routes for free on most Mondays through Thursdays. Hard to find a better discount than that, but in April, it will be cut in half. Still, 50 per cent off a pricey ferry ride isn't too shabby.

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It's conceivable that with the boomers entering their golden years, these deep seniors' discounts will be curbed. With so many more people eligible and taking advantage of these savings, some companies could see their bottom lines suffer.

It's best to make hay while the sun is shining, and here are some tips to help.

1. You don't have to be 65 to qualify for a senior's discount.

In some cases, the ripe young age of 50 can qualify you as a senior. While you may be decades away from retirement, and it might feel defeatist to search for a senior discounts so soon, your purse will thank you. In an extreme example, by signing up for a membership with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), you can get an annual gym membership to GoodLife for $400 per year (plus tax) as long as you are 45 years or older. My membership was $520 (plus tax) in 2013. The cheapest CARP membership I could find was $14.95 per year.

2. Many companies have a day of the month or week for seniors' savings.

MrsJanuary.com has a list of fast food restaurants, pharmacies, hotels, big box stores, and more, that offer discounts averaging 10 to 20 per cent on certain days. For example, Shoppers Drug Mart offers 20 per cent off on the last Thursday of every month for those who are 65 and older. According to some readers, the eligible age can be as low as 55, depending on the store, so it never hurts to ask.

3. Always ask about a senior discount.

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Speaking of it never hurting to ask about the age eligibility, sometimes the seniors' discount policies aren't widely advertised at all. I imagine some cashiers may be shy to suggest it for fear of offending customers . Any chance to save money is well worth the two seconds it takes to ask. So whenever you are at a register, get into the habit of asking if there is a seniors' discount.

There are many resources available on the web to learn about saving money for seniors. Savings on goods and services you normally spend money on is great, but some discounts are big enough they could help shape your retirement altogether. York University has a waiver for academic fees for certain courses for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are 60 or older. Although it is considered a taxable benefit and there are other fees associated with taking courses at universities, personally I would love to return to school in my golden years at a price like that.

Preet Banerjee, a personal finance expert, is the host of Million Dollar Neighbourhood on The Oprah Winfrey Network and author of the new book, Stop Over-Thinking Your Money! Follow him on Twitter at @preetbanerjee.

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About the Author
Personal Finance columnist

Preet Banerjee is a consultant to the financial services industry. You can follow him on twitter at  @PreetBanerjee. You can find his conflict of interest disclosure on his website. More

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