As my friend Leonie, who is 80, will testify, it really can pay to be over 60. She took a trip from her home in London to Frome in Somerset and managed to get the whole way there for just £1 thanks to her trusty free bus pass.
‘I started off at 7am and the only hitch was I got charged an extra £1 because I missed the right bus in Epsom, otherwise I would have got the whole way there for free,’ she told me.
If you know where to look, there are a whole host of other freebies, grants and discounts available just by declaring your date of birth.
When you’re over 60, you qualify for free NHS prescriptions. But did you know that if you’re picking up your medicines from Boots, you could also earn extra points while you’re there as the over 60s get additional rewards on their Boots Advantage Card, earning eight points per £1 on Boots brands instead of the usual rate of 4 points per £1.
When you’re over 60, you qualify for a host of freebies, discounts and more
You can get free eye tests on the NHS at various places, including Boots and Vision Direct. At Specsavers, you can save money on your glasses, too, with a 20 per cent discount on all glasses and lenses over £69. (It’s worth asking your local independent optician about any deals for over-60s as well.)
For those who like to travel, the free bus pass is a no-brainer. You can apply in England and Wales once you reach state pension age. In London, Scotland and Ireland it’s available for the over-60s.
In England and Wales, over-60s can also buy a Senior Coachcard at NationalExpress.com for £12.50 (plus £2.50 P&P) for a third off all National Express coach fares. (You can also bag extra discounts with £15 ‘anywhere’ returns on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays if you book three or more days in advance.)
Save on train journeys, too, with the Senior Railcard, which is £30 per year or £70 for three years, and gives you a third off the price of all train tickets, including peak times and first class. Buy it at Nationalrailcard.co.uk.
Another friend of mine, Tira, a globetrotter who is in her 70s, stresses there are some great discounts available on the continent for older travellers, so ask when buying tickets.
You can run your home for less, too, in later life with discounts and grants. Contact your energy provider to find out if it offers a free gas safety check to over-60s.
Those born on or before September 25, 1956, qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment. That means money off your winter heating bills. If you need home repairs, local trades may offer an over-60s discount, so always ask. Check out Age UK’s handyperson service for contacts.
Over-60s who need to make adaptations to their homes could qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant. Find out more at gov.uk or contact your local council. Also, people in receipt of Pension Credit or Attendance Allowance, or can prove a low income (such as living off the state pension), could even get a free boiler. Find out more a Boilergrants.info.
If you’re surviving on just the state pension, you may be able to get help with paying your council tax through claiming Council Tax Reduction. Also, if you are a tenant you may be able to get help with paying your rent through claiming Housing Benefit.
Both Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit are paid by your local council so speak to them about your situation. And if you are receiving Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, you may be entitled to help with funeral costs should your partner die. The Funeral Expenses Payment offers up to £1,000 and can cover burial or cremation fees, go to gov.uk.
You can often benefit from cheaper home insurance, too, if you’re 60 or over. Many companies offer special discounts to this market, as older people make fewer and smaller claims.
Travel insurance can be harder to get when you’re over 60 but there are deals to be found. For instance Staysure offers tailored travel insurance to cover any pre-existing medical conditions. AllClear also accepts over-60s with medical conditions for both single and multi-trip cover.
Many cinemas have ‘silver screen’ matinee showings at a discounted rate. The Odeon Silver Screen offers viewings at quieter times from only £3.50 per ticket, including a hot drink and a biscuit. London’s National Theatre has £20-off midweek matinees for the over-60s.
Lots of restaurants offer an early dinner discount for the over-60s. Look for special offers like a ‘5pm dinner deal’. And the National Trust gives over-60s a 25 per cent discount on its membership.
THE CHEAPER WAYS TO KEEP YOUR COOL
According to research by Barclaycard, we spent an astonishing 39.6 per cent more on our utilities in June than we did a year ago.
Now that the weather is so good and we’re tucking into refreshing salads instead of roasts, we can all spend less on heating and cooking. But the last thing we need is to shell out more just to stay cool!
So keep costs down by firstly using a fan rather than an air-con unit. Try to pick one with a DC motor as they cost less to run. For example, the Bionaire ISF004 Desk Fan has a DC motor that uses 63 per cent less energy than a traditional fan.
Also, all bladeless fans consume far less energy than their bladed counterparts. So check the description of any fan before you buy. Another clever hack is to get a ‘cooling mat’ like the YQXCC 2 Pack Cooling Towel —under a tenner for two at Amazon. Put your feet on it, wrap it round your neck, sit on it or lie on it at night and it will keep your body at a comfortable temperature.
All bladeless fans consume far less energy than their bladed counterparts
Use a traditional hand-held fan. Wood and paper ones can genuinely keep your face and neck cool with a flick of the wrist. Etsy has some beautiful examples from just £2.50 each. Or go for a battery-powered, hand-held fan that you can take anywhere — from £6.99 on eBay. For a quick cool-down, put cold water on your ‘pressure points’ — wrists, inside your elbows, ankles and the backs of your knees.
Also, and this may sound counter intuitive, have a warm bath before bed. If the water is hotter than the air temperature in your bedroom, when you get out you will feel cool and it will be easier to sleep.
Would your family like £1,000 of free toys?
Outdoor specialists TP Toys are on the hunt for ‘testers’ to try out its range during the summer holidays. The chosen family — whose children must be aged between four and eight — will be paid £500 and be given £1,000-worth of TP Toys to test, which they then get to keep.
The UFO den and climbing frame could be yours
Applicants must have a passion for toys and be able to use their imagination to play with them. They will be required to give honest feedback on the products, which could include the UFO den and climbing frame or the TP infinity leap 2 trampoline.
To enter, all parents need to do is submit their details by midnight on July 21 at www.tptoys.com/blogs/tp-news/ and say why their child or children would be perfect for the job.
Liberty of London is looking for a ‘beauty tester’ for products sent in the post once a quarter. The chosen person will receive a year’s worth of luxury items from its ‘beauty drop’ subscription service. So you would get a total of four boxes worth £300 altogether. Plus you will also get £240 credit to spend on Liberty beauty products and top brands such as Kiehl’s, Bobbi Brown and BYREDO.
Apply atlibertylondon.com/uk/ become-our-beauty-tester.html
Do you have a photo or two that mean so much to you that you would like canvas versions of them, framed and on your wall? Parrotprint.com offers this service using all-sustainable materials. You just upload your photo to the website, choose your style and order the prints. You even get free next-day delivery. Get 20 per cent off canvas and framed prints using the code MONEYMAGPIE20.