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Discounts for all ages

Sure, it's easier for seniors to find discounts, but you should look for deals whatever your age.

Membership has its discounts
Check with clubs to which you or family members belong. A swim club may negotiate discounts on swimming gear and other paraphernalia at local sporting goods shops. Your ski club may get group rates for lift tickets. Even a knitters' club may work out a deal with the local yarn shop for discounted goods. And don't forget to check with national organizations, such as your college alumni association or the American Automobile Association. These groups often arrange discounts for their members.

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The "I screwed up" rate
Retailers and service providers will often offer a discount on their goods and services if they've made an error. The wrong size, the wrong color, poor service can all add up to a discount if you ask for one.

"It's the last one" mark down
If you're buying the floor model vacuum cleaner or the last pair of shoes on display, ask for a discount. Since these goods generally are not as "fresh" as those coming straight out of the box, you might get a price break.

Off-peak price break
Everything from health clubs and spas to seaside resorts and ski areas offer discounts to clients who use their services at less-than-popular times. For health clubs, it's generally times that 9-to-5ers can't work out: between 9 a.m. and noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. A ski area might offer reduced lift tickets early in the season since it may not be entirely open.

Medical profession discount
Members of the medical profession -- doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians or paramedics -- sometimes receive discounts on trips, particularly active or adventure excursions. In exchange for the discount, participating medical personnel agree to be on call for some or all of the trip, carrying medical supplies in backpacks and offering assistance to trip participants.

Volume or loyalty discount
Vendors value your business and often will reward you with discounted or free goods. For example, the pet shop selling premium dog food will give you your 13th bag of chow free. Or your favorite espresso bar may give frequent sippers a punch card. Get a coffee pot stamp with each latte, and when the card's full you'll receive your next drink on the house or at a discount.

Hardship help
Some hotels or motels located near top-notch medical centers will offer discounts to out-of-towners who are getting treatment. And it works for pets as well as people patients. When my dog underwent radiation treatment at Washington State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, we booked a discounted room at the local Quality Inn. Don't be afraid to ask about such price breaks when you contact the treatment hospital and nearby lodgings.

Jenny C. McCune is a contributing editor based in Montana.

-- Posted: Jan. 12, 2005




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