We’re all getting older, all the time. When you enter your golden years, there are a number of new challenges and tests that you’ll be faced with. Some will be bigger and more consequential than others, but a big challenge for many seniors is money. With an aging population and society security up in the air, it can really help to save some cash wherever you can.

Another concern is finding enjoyable ways to pass the time, to avoid getting lonely, and to stay sharp. Having purpose in life is absolutely crucial, and it’s never too late to learn something new or to take up a new hobby. Some of these tips will involve ways to get things for free that will save you some money, and others will be free activities or experiences for seniors that will help keep you sharp, occupied, and learning for life.

Regardless of your interests, your financial situation, or where life has taken you thus far – here are some great ways that you can take advantage of being a senior, because even thought it doesn’t always feel like it, there are a lot of people out there who have respect and compassion for you and they want you to enjoy yourself, they respect you and they want to help out when they can.

Free college courses for seniors

Nearly half of the states in the USA offer some type of discounts or free tuition for seniors that want to learn. These include some very prestigious institutions, along with smaller colleges or universities. Beyond that, you can take countless university courses online for free, the only difference is that you won’t get the same designation once you complete the course, it’s more like auditing a course. If you’re doing it for the knowledge, rather than to get the degree or diploma on your resume, then this doesn’t really matter either way, since you’ll still have access to the same course material, lectures, etc. You can also audit classes in person, but the online options are very convenient and they allow you to learn at your own pace.

Free tax preparation help for seniors

Accountants can cost a lot of money. Depending on your financial situation and needs, your returns might not be that complex. Some are very simple! Some unscrupulous accountants might try to take advantage of a senior citizen who may not be as actively involved in their day to day finances when it’s tax time, perhaps simply by overcharging for a quick tax return, or taking advantage of the fact that some senior citizens are just not paying super close attention to this type of thing. In any case, there is a program called TCE, which stands for Tax Counseling for the Elderly, which can help you sort out your taxes free of charge.

Free tax returns are provided by volunteers who want to help out the elderly who need help. It’s very sweet of them! This program is offered through the IRS, and here’s a list of what you’ll need.

Another nice aspect of this program is that many of the volunteers are senior citizens themselves, or people who are approaching retirement. As such, they’ve spent their careers seeing the challenges and hurdles that some senior citizens have to deal with, and they’ve decided to volunteer their time to help out. You can take advantage of this program if you could use some help with your taxes, instead of having to hire an expensive accountant to prepare your taxes, especially for people with relatively simple returns. IF you have a very complex return and a lot of income and investments still, it may be better to stick to someone who will dedicate more time to your tax return, someone that you’re paying.

Help with prescription drug costs for seniors

Medicare Part D can help with the costs of prescription drugs for seniors, but there may be a co-pay so it’s not entirely free but it’s still a lot less expensive than buying the drugs without any kind of coverage.

Having said that, for low-income individuals, some drug companies will offer something called a PAP which stands for patient assistance program. This is something that doesn’t get discussed often enough when people are talking about the massive profits of prescription drug companies, but it can be very helpful for people who need it to get their medication. If you don’t have health insurance coverage, or even if you do, it’s worth looking into the companies that make the drugs you need and seeing if you’ll qualify for their PAP. Most big pharma companies offer this.

Free phones for seniors

Some states have programs called Lifeline, which offers complementary phone service (landline or cell phones) for elderly people who are having trouble affording the ever-rising costs of phones. The Lifeline program is sponsored by the government, and is intended for low-income individuals who fall below the poverty line. It ensures that you have access to a telephone in the event of an emergency, and sometimes it’s just nice to call up an old friend or a family member when you’re feeling lonely. These feelings are normal, and it’s sad to think that some people won’t otherwise have access to keep in touch, for whatever reason.

Free food and drinks at restaurants

Seniors discounts are common at many restaurants, your whole meal won’t be free but the 10 or 15% you’ll save is essentially free money that you’re getting to keep in your pocket, and every little bit helps. Some restaurants have senior days or special hours where you can get discounted food, too. It’s a nice way to get out of the house and to enjoy a meal out, and to save a bit of cash in the process. Some restaurants will also offer you a free drink with your meal, and some don’t even require you to order a meal. Being friendly and polite can go a long way, too, because many young people working at restaurants still have a lot of respect for their elders when they’re shown respect in turn. 

Free groceries for seniors

You may be eligible for free meals through various programs from the government including benefits to pay for groceries, or the US Agriculture Department’s CSFP program (commodity supplemental food program.) Also, there are programs like Meals on Wheels, where people will deliver freshly cooked food to your home. Meals on Wheels are very inexpensive, and in some cases they may have enough funding to cover the cost entirely. 

Free dental work for seniors 

After enjoying all of those free drinks from restaurants, it might be time to get your teeth checked out! The American Dental Association runs a program called the Dental Lifeline Network which exists to help vulnerable people with dental work that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Dentistry is so incredibly important for one’s overall health, not to mention their mental health and confidence, even as they get older. Not only that, but having to put off dental work and to suffer through pain due to a lack of funds is something that nobody should have to go through. You should also look into how to get dental coverage with Medicare!

Free dentures for seniors

Dentures can be very expensive, but some states will offer access to programs that can help cover the cost of dentures for you if you’re low-income and aren’t able to pay for it otherwise. You’ll want to reach out to your local state’s Office for the Aging to see which programs and options are available near you, as it can vary from state to state. The Office for the Aging will have a good handle on the different resources that exist.

It’s Not a Handout – You’ve Earned It

Some seniors have trouble accepting freebies, they see them as “handouts” and they are too prideful to take advantage of programs that exist to help them. It’s not a handout. You’ve earned it. You’ve paid into the system your entire life, not just with your taxes but also with all of the work you’ve done, the people you’ve met and influenced, any seemingly small contribution you’ve made to society throughout your life entitles you to take advantage of each and every program or promotion that exists to assist you now.

These programs exist for the explicit purpose of you using them, so don’t feel ashamed to use them – everybody wants you to use them. You deserve them. They’re for you. Without anyone to use these programs, the programs would go away. When it comes to the government programs, the funding is there and the money is already allocated – so use it!