Ask the average person under the age of 50 what the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the most popular answers you’ll probably get are “A great place to get discounts on hotels” and “A really powerful political interest group.”
While the AARP is both of those things, it is so much more, and can be an absolutely invaluable resource for any number of common and extra-ordinary problems for Americans as they pass 50 and begin the transition to the actual retirement part of their lives.
With so many people in so many different living and working situations these days, the AARP has become flexible in what it offers its members – discounts and deals, financial advice, medical insurance, information on political issues, nutritional tips, games and brain teasers to promote mental agility, and so much more.
All of this for just $16 per year.
So just what is the AARP and where did it come from? A little history tells us that it was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, the first woman high school principal in the state of California.
She founded the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) in 1947 when she realized how many teachers were out there living on small pensions with no health care insurance. It took her nearly nine years and dealings with 30 health companies before she could get one to offer insurance to her organization. In 1958, the NRTA expanded its membership benefits to anyone over the age of 50 and officially became the AARP.
Its modern incarnation has two large affiliates – AARP Services, which offers members supplemental health care insurance through Medicare, and discounts across the board on everything from rental cars and hotel rooms to life insurance and prescription drugs.
The AARP Foundation is a charity that operates as a non-profit organization, with a stated vision of “a country without poverty where no older person feels vulnerable.”
As of early 2014, the AARP has an astounding 37 million members, about 11.5% of the entire US population of 321 million people.
Joining the AARP is as simple as filling out information on the organization’s website (http://www.aarp.org) or calling the help line at 1-888-566-0242.
As mentioned previously, membership costs are just $16 per year. If this is your first time trying out the AARP, a one-year subscription might be best for you, but if you are already convinced of its benefits or are renewing your membership, you can save 10% by signing up for three years or 21% for five years.
One of the best parts of the AARP, its website in particular, is the ability to see things specifically for your own state. The AARP’s Florida page is filled with upcoming events, public policy changes that affect seniors, and volunteer opportunities.
The number of industries, retailers, and industries offering discounts and special offers to AARP members is way too long to be included in this group, but its hard to imagine anyone who could look at the list and not find something that makes them happy.
For tech junkies, there are special officers from Amazon Kindle and Sony; for everyday needs, Walgreens and Family Dollar have offers; when it comes to eating out, the likes of Denny’s Landry’s, Outback Steakhouse, Papa John’s, and Saltgrass Steak House are on the list; and for the always vital needs of health and wellness, the likes of LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, and even pet insurance are available.
When it comes to getting out of your home, the AARP is one of the best resources. Multiple hotel chains and airlines, along with railways, car and truck rentals, cruises, and tours, all offer fantastic discount packages to senior citizens who want to get out and explore the world in their retirement years.
All of these features of the AARP could take days to explore, and they really just scratch the surface of what the organization offers.
For those who aren’t as Internet savvy, a monthly magazine is also produced and included in the price of your membership that includes features on retired individuals doing remarkable things along with advice, tips, humorous pieces, and all sorts of great ideas for things to keep you busy, healthy, financially secure, and safe.
Perhaps the most comforting part of joining the AARP is knowing you’re getting sound advice on things like your health, your money, your family, and your future. The AARP isn’t motivated by advertising revenue or kickbacks from its partners. Its members are its No. 1 concern, and keeping them happy and safe its No. 1 priority.
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