Social Security Recipients Should Utilize These Free Options To Save Money, Says AARP

older couple managing retirement contributions

Even with an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment boosting average monthly payments by $146 in 2023 — the highest COLA in more than four decades — Social Security recipients still need to save money whenever they can.

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Luckily, seniors have a variety of ways to do so. Not only do you qualify for a wide range of senior discounts when you hit retirement age, but you can also score free deals if you know where to look.

Here are some of the products and services that Social Security beneficiaries and others can get at no cost, according to AARP:

  • Admission to museums. Museums often designate free-admission days for patrons of all ages. Examples include the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Check the websites of museums in your area to learn when they might offer free admission.
  • Books. AARP recommends downloading the Libby app to borrow e-books and audiobooks from your public library. More than 90% of libraries work with the app. The app is compatible with iOS versions 10 and up, Android 5.0 and up and Fire OS 5 and up.
  • Haircuts. If you sign up to be a hair model at, you can get a free haircut from stylists-in-training who want to hone their skills.
  • National parks: The National Park Service offers free admission several days each year. In 2023, those days are Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 16); the first day of National Park Week (April 22); the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (Aug. 4); National Public Lands Day (Sept. 23); and Veterans Day (Nov. 11).
  • City tours. The Free Tours by Foot site provides information on tours you can take in more than 50 cities around the world and also offers pay-what-you-wish guided tours and links to self-guided tours. 
  • College courses: All states offer older residents a chance to take free college classes when there is available space, according to the AARP. For example, the University of New Hampshire allows residents 65 and older to take two classes each academic year. Check with colleges in your area to find what’s available.
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Another way to save money is to shop for used items being sold at steep discounts — the seller might even toss in free items if you spend a certain amount. These items can range from furniture and clothing to electronics, tools and fitness equipment. Check out local thrift stores along with websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and ThredUp.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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