Save Big $ With Senior Discounts

Discounts for the senior citizens go way beyond the early bird special. You just have to know where to look.

For that, The Early Show turns to Linda Bowman, a self-described expert bargain hunter.

The author of "Free Stuff And Good Deals For Folks Over 50," Bowman says it never hurts to ask about a discount.

"Money is money," she says. "A market or a department store may have a discount on a Tuesday for example, so you can save on that. You could go to your local cleaners, they might have a special senior discount."

She also suggests that you:

Carry ID or an AARP Card - Always carry your card and your proof-of-age ID. Bowman says, "Marriotts, Sheratons, Starwood, Quality Inn, most of the major hotel chains, give you 10-15 percent off, but you always need to check because your AARP card is going to give you a discount. You don't always have to settle for the first answer, you can do better."

Take Advantage of Educational Opportunities – There are different opportunities across the country. You can audit a university class, for example, Bowman says. "That's one of the reasons we picked Tucson to live- you've got art shows, plays, other cultural events. It's a hub of activity and a lot of it is free and it's cheap around campuses because students don't have a lot of money."

Use The Internet – Bowman says, "If you're still in the dark ages and you hadn't learned how to use the Internet, get yourself to a library or a learning center that will teach you to navigate the Internet. There's an organization called Senior Net, a nonprofit organization that teaches adults over 50 to use computers. Then if you start to use the Internet, you can compare prices on all sorts of items and do research on health-related issues."

Be Creative When Traveling - Bowman explains, "The trend has been that the senior discounts on airlines are not as big as they used to be. They still give discounts, but you do have to do your homework and make sure the senior discount is as good as other deals they have going on."

Bowman says if you are a retired person and had a career specialty, use it to get a free trip. For example, you can travel on a cruise for free by teaching a seminar. Bowman adds, "If you have any kind of specialty in language, or arts, or music, you can even become a tour operator, someone who helps with the groups. I do a lot of traveling, and in tour groups they have at least two people that help in addition to the guide. You might not get paid very much, but you might get your trip for free."