AARP, the organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, is the largest such retiree advocacy group in the U.S. It was founded in 1958. People age 50 or older can join for a small annual fee.
Many soon-to-be retirees often wonder if it makes sense to join AARP. There are several benefits, not least of which is the tremendous lobbying power the AARP has for seniors in the United States. Let’s discuss some of the other benefits, including financial incentives for AARP members.
Benefits of Joining AARP
When a person turns 50 years of age in the United States, it is only a matter of time before he or she receives an envelope from AARP in the mail. This is the membership application letter, and those who join unlock a wide array of benefits for seniors. Membership in the organization currently runs $12 a year.
What are some of the benefits you receive for that $12 annual fee? First, members enjoy discounts on travel, hotels and lodging, restaurants, and retail shopping. Detractors say that seniors already get discounts on many things, with average restaurant and hotel discounts around 10%. While this is true, AARP membership kicks in many years before senior discounts begin to apply. In other words, without membership, retirees 65 years of age or older are eligible for various discounts, while AARP members are eligible as early as age 50. That’s 15 years of additional discounts, all for the low price of $12 a year. The membership fee is easily recouped in savings; just a couple of restaurant visits or a few nights in a hotel with the discount greatly exceeds the annual membership fee.
In addition to the discounts, there’s a monthly magazine and a regularly-published newsletter packed with valuable information for retirees. The magazine covers topics like financial advice, health tips, and lifestyle stories. There are even regular features like movie reviews for your reading enjoyment. The financial advice is developed by some of the leading minds in retirement planning. Seniors and retirees can never have too much financial guidance; with a fixed income and no regular employee paycheck, retirement savings may need to last for many years.
A wide range of discounted services is available to members of AARP. These services range from auto insurance to life insurance, annuities, and financial planning and investment services from financial partners like TD Ameritrade. The discounts alone on investment services can make a huge difference when it comes to setting up, managing, and funding retirement and other investment plans.
One of the primary features of AARP membership is commonly overlooked by members and the general public alike. AARP is a tireless champion of seniors and retirees and has been since it was first founded in 1958. As the most powerful senior-oriented lobbying group in the U.S., AARP has been instrumental in protecting federal retirement and assistance programs like Medicare and Social Security. Without the strong voice and the committed leadership of the group, such programs may have been eliminated. The current political climate is one of drastic cost-cutting, especially among programs that help the young, the elderly, the poor, and the unemployed. Elderly people are considered an at-risk population group, and they deserve the very best protection available. The AARP helps provide that protection.
Even if you don’t plan on taking advantage of the benefits and services AARP provides, supporting their senior advocacy work is well worth the annual fee. Consider that $12 membership to help the group continue their important work providing support and advocacy for America’s older citizens.
Should I Join?
As mentioned earlier, the cost of joining AARP is very low. That $12 membership fee works out to a dollar a month, which makes it affordable for even the tightest budgets.
The savings from restaurant and hotel discounts recoups the membership cost in just a few evenings out on the town. Savings on services like home and auto insurance, financial planning and investment advice, travel planning, and even health service discounts can save members hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year.
But, most importantly, it is AARP’s strong voice in Washington that makes the price of membership a no-brainer. Many retirees feel as if they have lost their bargaining power now that they are no longer employed. With a membership in AARP, they are taking an active role in their own futures as well as for seniors across the country. Protecting important federal programs and lobbying for expanded support of retirees on the federal level is some of the most important work the AARP does. Without them, politicians would have slashed programs that support retirees when they need it most.
AARP may not be perfect for every retiree, but the low cost of membership and the valuable benefits it provides to seniors makes it a simple choice: go ahead and join!