Note: Author is a contributing writer for The Girlfriend. This is an ad for AARP membership written by a verified AARP member. She has been compensated for her review.
Like many people, I approached my 50th birthday with a bit of trepidation. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to celebrate with an over-the-top party or crawl into bed with a pint of ice cream and wait for the day to be over.
Five — oh! It’s a big number and (well-meaning) friends and family will remind you of that over and over again as the day approaches. Peers who already have reached that milestone will say, “Welcome to the club,” with a head nod and knowing grin. People will ask what you are going to do to mark the occasion. In the days leading up to my birthday, I was frequently asked, “Did you get your AARP card yet?” with a chuckle, which can make you feel even older than you already do.
But let me let you in on a bit of secret: Turning 50 isn’t so bad, and being a member of AARP is a pretty cool thing.
First off, I will let you in on another little secret. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be 50 years old to be a member. Yes, REALLY! A person can be in their 20s and join AARP (although many of the benefits are geared toward older adults). The application process is simple — no lengthy forms to fill out or need to get someone to cosign your application. And unlike other types of membership, you can cancel at any time without penalty.
Second, it is not expensive: just $12 the first year with automatic renewal and $16 after that. Members get instant access to hundreds of carefully chosen benefits. Plus, you may find that using a single member benefit covers the entire cost of membership. Membership includes a subscription to AARP's bi-monthly magazine and a free gift.
While I get several magazines, I find that a lot of them aren’t focused on readers my age, which is why I like the one from AARP. The articles are well-researched and enlightening. I also like the celebrities they profile because they are the people I grew up alongside. Recent cover subjects have included Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Bruce Springsteen and Annette Bening. If those are the other members of the over-50 club, I am happy to add my name to the list!
In addition to being enjoyable, reading about these celebrities reminds me that even though "AARP" was initially geared toward retired people, that is not its sole focus anymore. Retirement is great, but so is continuing to work (professionally, on a volunteer basis or leisurely) at whatever makes you happy.
If the magazine wasn’t enough, AARP also publishes articles on its main website, as well as in several weekly e-newsletters — including The Etheland The Girlfriend. The articles and personal essays tackle subjects that I would talk about with my friends — from “Think You Can’t Lose Weight During Menopause? Think Again” to “Why Girls’ Trips Will Make You a Better Mom.” AND, drum roll, please ..... The Girlfriend: In Conversation is a new audio-only series featuring amazing female thought leaders that just launched (July 29). Anyone can listen to the first conversation but the remaining episodes will be available to AARP members.
Third, if you like bargains, being an AARP member is like being invited to a private sale every day. There are discounts on everything from hotel stays to rental cars and restaurants. AARP even offers travel planning guides.
After a year of no traveling, my husband and I were excited to plan a summer getaway. When booking the room, I asked if there was an AARP discount rate — and no surprise, there was one. The savings made me feel better about treating us to dinners out during the trip. Plus, check out the select restaurants members an save at too — during vacation or even in your normal dining out..
Speaking of savings, if like many people old and young you are worrying about finances (especially after this past year), AARP wants to help you to feel more comfortable about your financial future. AARP Money Map™ is a free resource to help people with budgeting, planning, debt repayment and other money matters — including tracking your goals. It’s a useful tool, whether you have just graduated college and secured your first real job or are thinking about retirement. Anyone age 18 and above can try it. Just log onto moneymap.aarp.org.
Plus, I recently learned about the AARP Rewards program. The program includes fun crossword puzzles and word challenges for my 26-year-old daughter and myself to have fun doing together. AARP Rewards has lots of activities and completing them allows you to earn points and access rewards like discounted gift cards, sweepstakes and local offers. Plus, members earn 50% more points, get rewards faster and unlock members-only rewards.
Finally, did you know AARP has loads of games exclusive to members only, like Atari's Breakout and Pong!? And AARP® Staying Sharp®, an award-winning brain health program, offers recipes, interactive videos, brain health challenges, a brain health assessment — and so much more.
So now when people ask me with a chuckle, “Did you get your AARP card yet?” — I nod my head emphatically. After all, if I have to be middle-aged I might as well reap all the benefits of it — and AARP helps to make sure that I do.
Learn more about joining AARP.