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Cameron Huddleston: How To Negotiate Your Traffic Ticket

By Cameron Huddleston, GOBankingRates.com (TNS)

No one wants to see the flashing blue lights of a police car signaling you to pull over because you’ve just been caught speeding, running a red light or violating some other traffic law. When it does happen, you immediately think, “How much is this going to cost me?”

The average cost of a speeding ticket is $152 — and more than $6 million in speeding tickets are paid each year, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute. However, the real cost of getting a ticket can be much higher.

“Drivers should be more concerned with points on their license than the fines,” said Linda Kerns, an attorney in Philadelphia. “Points on your license could cause your insurance rates to rise.”

A study by insuranceQuotes.com found that insurance premiums can jump as much as 92 percent for just one violation. A speeding ticket can result in a 29 percent premium hike, on average. Fortunately, a traffic violation doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be out of a lot of money. Here’s how to negotiate a ticket to minimize the impact on your finances.

MAKE A HUMAN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFICER

The way you respond once the lights go on behind your car can greatly affect the outcome of a traffic stop, said Dominic D’Ambrosio, deputy police chief of the Oak Forest, Ill., police department. “It is safe to say that making some kind of human connection with the officer is the best way to reduce the chances of him issuing you a citation,” he said. “This connection begins prior to the driver and officer ever speaking to one another.”

As soon as an officer signals you to pull over, do so. “Officers are taught when and how to turn on the lights and usually have a particular place in mind where they would prefer you stop,” D’Ambrosio said. “When you improvise and decide where you stop your car, you may have already put the officer on the defense.”

After you stop, turn off the car and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Do not reach around your car, take off your seat belt or get out of your car — unless the officer tells you to, he said. Let the officer speak first and be polite because, as D’Ambrosio said, “It is much easier to write a ticket to a person who is being rude.”

Once the officer explains why you were stopped, there is nothing wrong with pleading your case for why you don’t want or can’t afford the ticket, he said. Just do so before the officer returns to his car to write the citation. “If you have any chance to talk your way out of the ticket, the odds will be far worse once he comes back with it in his hands,” D’Ambrosio said.

If it is clear that the officer will issue you a citation, don’t press your case. Instead, ask what is the best way to keep the citation off your driving record? “Remember, this is a human connection,” D’Ambrosio said. “If you were truly polite, he likely feels some remorse for writing the ticket and will be happy to help you.”

BE PROACTIVE IF YOU GET A TRAFFIC TICKET

Many court systems provide administrative relief for first-time violators and will have a system in place that will allow you to avoid court, D’Ambrosio said. For example, you might be able to keep points off your license or have the charge reduced if you enroll in traffic school or take an online driving course.

Be sure to carefully read any information the officer provides you so you’ll know whether such options are available and so you can avoid further penalties. For example, you might get hit with more fines if you ignore the instructions on your citation and fail to mail in certain documents, pay a fine or show up in court on a certain date.

TRY YOUR LUCK IN COURT

In some jurisdictions, such as New York City, there is no plea bargaining for traffic violations. So, come prepared with any evidence to show you’re not guilty and “make the best case you can in the shortest amount of time” because judges will have limited time, said Todd Spodek of Spodek Law Group in New York.

In jurisdictions where you can plea bargain, you need to decide in advance whether you want to fight the ticket or just reduce points and fines through an apology, said Jared Jaskot, a criminal defense attorney in Baltimore. “Judges don’t like it when you sit on the fence,” he said.

If you decide to fight the case, tell the judge you are pleading not guilty. The best chance of winning is if the officer doesn’t show up to present evidence against you, Jaskot said. Otherwise, you need a theory of the case that does not accuse the police officer of lying.

“It is much better to say the police are mistaken or were not aware of all the pertinent information,” Jaskot said. Then, present evidence such as a picture of the speed limit sign that was blocked by a tree branch or the hole in the road you swerved to miss.

If you’re asking for a reduction in points, admit your mistake and provide a reason — if you have one — why the judge should go easy on you. Then, apologize and promise not to do it again, Jaskot said. Sometimes, judges ask the officer if you were polite during the stop and will take that into consideration, he said.

ASK FOR FORGIVENESS FROM YOUR INSURER

If you simply pay your ticket or are found guilty in court, you might have luck getting your insurer to avoid raising your premium. According to insuranceQuotes.com, insurers are more forgiving of minor offenses, such as speeding.

In fact, your insurer might not know you got a ticket for a minor violation. If you’re older than 25 and have a good record, your insurer likely isn’t checking your driving record regularly because it can be expensive for them to run such checks. Just make sure you don’t violate any other traffic laws because your rate is more likely to rise after two violations, according to insuranceQuotes.com.

Cameron Huddleston writes for GOBankingRates.com (), a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.

© 2016 GOBankingRates.com, a ConsumerTrack web property. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: A motor officer writes a traffic ticket for a motorist caught speeding. Jeff Dean via  Wikimedia Commons

 

3 Most Common Money Mistakes When You’re Living Paycheck To Paycheck

By Cameron Huddleston, GOBankingRates.com (TNS)

Millions of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. But while around one-third of Americans, or 38 million households, are living hand-to-mouth, they aren’t technically poor, according to the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit that conducts independent research. In fact, nearly one-third of households earning $75,000 or more annually live paycheck to paycheck at least sometimes, according to a survey by SunTrust.

What this data suggests is that while you might climb the proverbial corporate ladder and make more money, poor financial habits can follow you, continuously sabotaging your finances over the years. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, here are three common money mistakes you might be making.

YOU OVERSPEND

One in five Americans spend more than they earn, according to a Federal Reserve Board report. And 44 percent of those surveyed by SunTrust agree that spending on lifestyle purchases, such as dining out and entertainment, is part of the reason they live paycheck to paycheck and save less than they should each month.

A few years ago, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner was living paycheck to paycheck because she was spending about $1,000 a month on restaurant meals and about $500 a month on clothing. “At the time, I didn’t realize what kind of problem I had,” said Schroeder-Gardner, who now blogs about personal finance at MakingSenseofCents.com. “I was young and not very smart about money, plus it seemed like everyone else around me was doing something similar.”

She broke her cycle when she realized she had a spending problem and made a conscious decision to reign in her spending.

YOU DON’T HAVE A FINANCIAL PLAN

Only 20 percent of adults have developed a written financial plan, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2015 Planning and Progress Study. Brian Brandow was among those without a plan for his money. As a result, he was living paycheck to paycheck.

“We finally had a rock bottom moment and had accumulated $109,000 worth of debt,” Brandow said. So he and his family built a budget and created a plan to pay off their debt. They are now debt free, and he blogs about being responsible with money at DebtDiscipline.com.

If you don’t have a plan for your money, one use of it is as good as any other. Without a plan, you invite reckless spending in your life and create new hurdles for getting ahead financially. Learn how to create a spending plan so you can align your expenses with your goals.

YOU DON’T HAVE A FINANCIAL CUSHION FOR EMERGENCIES

More than 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, according to a recent GOBankingRates survey. This survey suggests that the majority of people likely don’t have enough set aside to cover unexpected expenses or emergencies — which could deal a major financial blow to anyone living paycheck to paycheck.

You should create an emergency fund to help you avoid living paycheck to paycheck when unexpected expenses arise, said Bethy Hardeman, chief consumer advocate at Credit Karma. You can find extra money in your budget to set aside by looking for expenses you can cut, such as subscription services or a gym membership you’re not using, she said. Also, look for fees you can eliminate, such as bank account charges you can avoid by switching to a financial institution with no-fee checking.

You can also come up with extra cash in your budget by negotiating lower rates with your service providers, said Nicole Lapin, a financial expert and author. “Do a yearly housekeeping call to all of your major bill generators — your cable, phone and internet companies — and see if there might be a better deal available,” she said.

GOBankingRates.com () is a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.

© 2015 GOBankingRates.com, a ConsumerTrack web property. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

 

Robert Kiyosaki’s 5 Best Money Tips Of All Time

By Cameron Huddleston, GOBankingRates.com (TNS)

Robert Kiyosaki is one of the best-known names in personal finance largely due to the success of his book Rich Dad Poor Dad, in which he wrote that workers won’t get rich toiling away at conventional 9-to-5 jobs.

His advice continues to resonate, so GOBankingRates has once again selected him as a finalist in its 2015 Best Money Expert competition. As part of this year’s competition, Kiyosaki was asked to share his best money tip for 2016.

“Don’t wait for the government, a financial advisor or your boss to take care of you,” he said. “You must take control of your finances. You must get financially educated. Take responsibility for your life and your future.”

Here are five of Kiyosaki’s best money tips of all time, selected to help you take control of your finances as you head into the new year.

FINANCIAL EDUCATION: THE KEY TO WEALTH

Kiyosaki has said that his true passion is teaching. He created a board game and financial education company to teach people about money management. The board game is designed to simulate real-life financial strategies and scenarios.

“Financial education and getting smarter with your money is always a great way to prepare for the future, whatever it holds, good and bad, and hedge against all the unexpected speed bumps on the road to financial freedom,” Kiyosaki told GOBankingRates.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES

No one cares as much about your financial security as you do. So Kiyosaki’s advice is to “take responsibility for your finances or take orders all your life.”

He added: “You’re either a master of money or a slave to it.”

PAY YOURSELF FIRST

Budgeting isn’t only about paying the bills. It’s also about paying yourself first by socking away money routinely.

“When Kim and I were first married, we committed to making our investing an expense in our budget,” Kiyosaki wrote on his blog. “Each month, we paid ourselves through our expense column the money we needed to save up for and purchase assets that would provide us cash flow. This was an example of an expense that made us rich.”

HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN

In the event of a job loss, decrease in income, medical emergency or other unexpected situation, it’s important to have a contingency plan and cash reserves to cover expenses, he said.

“Setbacks often leave us reeling since they’re often unexpected and can involve high emotion. And when emotion goes up, intelligence goes down,” Kiyosaki said. “I try to step back, calm my emotions and ask myself: What’s the lesson here? What can I learn from this? How can I be better prepared in the future?”

SPEND ON ASSETS, NOT LIABILITIES

To get ahead financially, Kiyosaki recommended that you spend money on assets that generate wealth such as real estate. You can’t grow your wealth if you’re spending it on cars, clothes and vacations.

Yet, Kiyosaki said that people should not consider their house an asset, even when it’s paid off. “The home that I live in still costs me money every month for utilities, taxes, insurance (and) maintenance,” he said in a published interview.

Cameron Huddleston writes for GOBankingRates.com (), a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.

© 2015 GOBankingRates.com, a ConsumerTrack web property. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

 

Five Ways To Improve Your Health And Finances

By Cameron Huddleston, GOBankingRates.com (TNS)

You know healthful habits can help you improve your physical and mental well-being, ward off chronic diseases, and even prolong your life. But did you know they can also help you save money?

That’s right: Taking steps to improve your health can also improve your finances. In fact, the savings can be substantial and long term. Here are five ways to improve your health — and finances.

Eat Less Meat

One way to improve your finances and health is to cut back on meat.

“Studies do show that people who eat less meat tend to be leaner and less likely to gain weight than people with higher meat intakes,” said Kristen Gradney, the owner of a nutrition consulting firm. Numerous studies have also shown that switching to a vegetarian diet can lower cholesterol levels, she said.

Plus, you can cut your grocery bill by replacing meat sources of protein with beans and vegetables. A can of beans usually costs less than $1.

Quench Your Thirst With Water

You’ve probably heard that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but that rule isn’t supported by hard evidence. In fact, water needs vary person to person.

But the truth is, water is your best bet for hydration because it’s calorie-free and inexpensive. Considering households spend an average of $850 a year on soda, and drinking just one soda every day can add 10 pounds of extra weight in a year, according to Drink Water First, your wallet and waistline will thank you for sticking to water. Just skip bottled water, which costs 240 to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Drink Less Alcohol

Various studies have found that moderate consumption of alcohol actually helps your heart. However, if you drink too much, those benefits are outweighed by an increased risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, certain types of cancer, and other problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. So what’s a moderate amount? One glass of wine a day for women and men older than 65 and two for men 65 and younger.

Limiting — or eliminating — your alcohol consumption will also save you money. Consumers spend an average of $445 a year on alcoholic beverages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cutting back or eliminating your alcohol consumption can save you several hundreds of dollars every year.

Exercise With Friends

Exercise is an easy way to improve your health. Not only does physical activity help you control your weight and combat chronic health conditions, it can also make you feel happier, relieve stress, and give you more energy. Exercise can also lead to higher wages because it boosts productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Labor Research.

Quit Smoking

You probably don’t need to be told that smoking is bad for you — it’s an accepted fact. But if the warnings that smoking can lead to lung disease, heart disease, and cancer haven’t convinced you to quit, maybe the high cost of your habit will.

The average price for a pack of cigarettes is $6.24, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. So if you have a pack-a-day habit, you’re spending nearly $2,300 a year on cigarettes. Plus, smokers pay $35 for related health costs per pack they smoke, according to the American Cancer Society — which adds up to almost $13,000 a year if you smoke a pack a day.

Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources via Flickr

Signs You Have A Spending Problem And Ways To Stop

By Cameron Huddleston, GOBankingRates.com (TNS)

One in five Americans spent more than what they earned in the last 12 months, according to a Federal Reserve Board survey released in May.

Regardless of the reason spending might exceed income, “overspending is harmful because it could be a sign you’re out of control with your finances,” said Leslie H. Tayne, an attorney who concentrates in debt resolution solutions and authored Life & Debt.

Here are a few warning signs that indicate you are spending too much, followed by suggestions for getting your spending under control:

You Max Out Your Credit Cards And Pay Only The Minimum

If you’re maxing out your credit cards and can’t pay off your balances every month, it’s a sign that you’re relying on credit to supplement your income, Tayne said. “This is a hard cycle to break, especially if you can only afford to make the minimum payments each month,” she said. Not only can this hurt your credit score, but it can also leave you in debt longer than necessary.

You Pay Bills Late

About one out of 20 people with a credit file are at least 30 days late on a credit card or a non-mortgage account payment, according to an Urban Institute report.

Paying bills late because you don’t have the cash to cover them is a sign that you’re overspending, Tayne said. And it sends a red flag to your credit issuers, which could hike your interest rates or lower your credit limit, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. You’ll also be hit with fees, which can add up quickly, and several late payments will hurt your credit score.

You Raid Your Retirement Account

You might think there’s no harm in borrowing from your retirement account because it’s your money. About 20 percent of 401(k) plan participants have taken a loan from their account, according to the Pencil Research Council Working Paper. You can borrow up to half of your 401(k) balance, up to a maximum of $50,000, but Tayne said rarely is this a good idea. “Borrowing from your future is a risky move,” she said.

If you borrow from your retirement account, you will have to pay yourself back with interest, which can be lower than the rate of return you would’ve gotten if you had left the money in the account. So really, you’re just shortchanging your retirement savings.

If you’ve realized that you have an overspending problem, rest assured. There are different ways you can get your spending under control and create healthy spending habits.

Create A Budget

The first step to getting your spending under control is creating a budget, Tayne said. Take a close look at what you’re spending money on and look for ways to cut back.

Rely On Cash

By living on a cash- or debit-only budget, you can curb the impulse to overspend. Tayne suggested setting a budget for each shopping trip and only bringing that much cash with you to avoid making impulse purchases.

Get Help

If you’re buried in debt and can’t curb your spending, your best option might be to get professional help. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling member agencies provide free and affordable debt counseling and other money management services. You can find an agency in your area through NFCC.org.

Photo: frankieleon via Flickr

Three Mistakes You’re Making Before A Big Purchase

By Cameron Huddleston, GOBankingRates.com (TNS)

You might have kicked yourself a few times for making a bad purchase or buying something that later went on sale, but if you didn’t pay a lot to begin with, you probably didn’t lose sleep over it. But making a mistake with a big-ticket purchase will weigh much more heavily on you and your bank account.

When it comes to buying an appliance, computer, television, car, or any other item that can put a big dent in your wallet, it pays to shop smart. Not only should you do your research by reading reviews and comparing prices, but you should also avoid making these three common mistakes that can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Falling For The Extended Warranty Upsell

When you buy a big-ticket item, you’ll likely get the hard sell to buy an extended warranty. It makes sense to spend a little more to protect your purchase, right? Wrong. “One of the biggest mistakes we see shoppers make when they buy a big-ticket item, whether in-store or online, is falling for the upsell extended warranties,” said FatWallet.com online shopping expert Brent Shelton.

Why skip the warranty pitch? For starters, you likely won’t need the extra coverage. Consumer Reports’ Extended Warranty Buying Guide notes products typically don’t break during the two- to three-year extended warranty period, and if they do, repairs cost about as much as the warranty.

Plus, your purchase might already be covered if you used a credit card. CardHub.com found that the four major credit card issuers — Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express — will extend the warranty up to one year on items with an existing manufacturer’s warranty. Or, you can look for a lower-cost extended warranty than the one the retailer is pushing from a protection plan service such as Square Trade, Shelton said.

Waiting For A Big-Ticket Item To Break Before Replacing It

You won’t do your wallet any favors by waiting for an appliance, computer, television, or other big-ticket item to stop working before buying a replacement. “If you buy these items when they break, a lot of times you buy them when they are not on sale,” said Howard Schaffer, vice president of deal site Offers.com.

If you have an item that’s showing signs of wear and tear and isn’t working as well as it used to, shop for a new one during one of the big three-day holiday weekend sales, such as Memorial Day and Labor Day. Many big-ticket items typically are marked down at least 20 percent to 30 percent during these sales, Schaffer said.

If you need to replace a car, you’ll get the best deal by shopping at the end of the month, when dealers are eager to meet quotas, and in early fall, when new cars arrive on lots and the previous year’s models drop in price, according to Edmunds.com.

Settling For The Sale Price

Although sales on long holiday weekends offer opportunities to save, Shelton said consumers shouldn’t settle for the marked-down price without weighing other savings options.

You might get a better deal by taking advantage of price-matching policies, for example. Perhaps the item you want is on sale at one retailer but another retailer offers better perks, such as free delivery and haul away of old items. If that other retailer has a price-matching policy, you might be able to get the lower price and the perks. (See which stores offer price-match guarantees.)

Also look for cash-back offers that can add up to big savings, Shelton said. Sites such as Ebates.com and FatWallet.com partner with online retailers to let consumers earn back a percentage of the money they spend on purchases. By shopping online through these sites, you can take advantage of sales and earn cash back — essentially lowering the price of your purchases even more.

Whether you’re ready to buy an expensive item you’ve been wanting or you now realize that you better replace an old item on its last legs while the new version is on sale, you can go into a store or go online knowing that you have options. Do the extra bit of research and negotiation to get the best deal.

Photo: A group of Chevrolet Camaro cars for sale is pictured at a car dealership in Los Angeles, California April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni 

You Can Buy Organic Food Without Busting Your Budget

By Cameron Huddleston, Kiplinger Personal Finance

Mention organic food to shoppers and they often respond that it’s too expensive. For the most part, they’re right.

A recent Consumer Reports study found that organic foods cost 47 percent more, on average, than conventional foods. As such, it’s not surprising that Whole Foods, the grocer most associated with organic and natural food offerings, is often referred to as “Whole Paycheck.”

To combat that reputation, the company just announced that it will be launching a chain of less expensive stores aimed at price-conscious Millennial shoppers. But Whole Foods didn’t specify when it was opening the new stores or where they’d be located. So what can you do in the meantime if you want to buy organic for less?

For starters, it’s important to understand that prices on many organic items can be the same as or even lower than the prices on their conventional counterparts.

The Consumer Reports study found this to be true on several organic products, including lettuce, carrots, maple syrup and olive oil. Kiplinger’s independent research found that even Whole Foods has surprisingly low prices on certain organic items including organic milk, chicken broth and peanut butter. In other words, saving money on organic foods doesn’t just come down to what you buy but where you buy it.

Try shopping at these places to keep costs down:

1. Trader Joe’s

This quirky grocery chain, with more than 400 locations across the U.S., is known for its low prices. Many of its organic offerings are bargains compared with similar products at supermarkets and organic grocers. Fruits and vegetables, beef, yogurt and coffee are among its top organic deals.

For example, we found that a 6-ounce package of organic spinach was $2 less at Trader Joe’s than at several supermarkets we checked.

2. Aldi

This low-cost supermarket chain originated in Germany and now operates about 1,400 locations in the U.S. Aldi keeps its prices low because of its no-frills approach — you have to bag your own groceries, for example — and its lineup of exclusive brands. The organic selection isn’t extensive, but the items that are available tend to be priced lower than similar products at supermarkets and Whole Foods.

For example, a 25-ounce jar or organic marinara sauce at Aldi’s is between 50 cents and more than $2 less than similar sauces at other grocers we checked.

3. Walmart

The mega-retailer has used its size and scale to make organic affordable, says Walmart spokesperson Molly Blakeman: “We don’t think people should have to pay more to put organic on the table.” Walmart stocks 1,600 organic grocery items, including a line of packaged goods from the Wild Oats brand, which once was a chain of natural food stores that was bought by Whole Foods.

About 3,800 Walmart stores have at least 30 Wild Oats products and 2,200 stores have more than 70 of the brand’s items, Blakeman says. The prices are on par with similar conventional items and at least 25 percent lower, on average, than national organic brands, she says.

Among products in the line are rice, pasta, crackers, cookies and olive oil. Walmart also offers 50 organic produce items under its Marketside brand; however, we found that Aldi and Trader Joe’s tend to have lower prices on organic fruits and vegetables.

4. Warehouse clubs

You’ll pay $45 or more a year to join a warehouse club such as Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club. But you can recoup the annual fee with the savings you’ll get by buying warehouse clubs’ discounted bulk items, especially organic fare.

For example, BJ’s organic chicken breasts are about $1 to $3 less per pound than at the other stores we checked; a 26-ounce jar of organic peanut butter costs about the same as 16-ounce jars at other stores; and organic maple syrup costs about half as much per ounce.

BJ’s carries a total of 150 organic items, and both BJ’s and Sam’s Club offer free one-day passes if you want to check out the organic offerings before committing to a membership.

BJ’s is currently offering a free 60-day trial membership if you sign up by July 5. It’s worth noting that to take full advantage of warehouse clubs’ discount pricing, you need to be able to consume the entire amount of your bulk purchases before those items spoil or expire. See 7 Costly Mistakes Shoppers Make at Warehouse Clubs for more.

5. Farm markets

Because prices can vary greatly from market to market and even vendor to vendor at the same market, it’s hard to claim that this option is one of the best places across the board to buy organic on a budget. Plus, although you might find an abundance of naturally grown or raised produce, you likely won’t find many, or any, items that are actually certified organic, which requires meeting requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nonetheless, it’s worth doing some comparison shopping of your own at your local farmers market to see how its prices stack up. There’s a good chance you’ll find that it won’t cost you more than shopping at the supermarket, and might cost even less.

(c) 2015, KIPLINGER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Photo: Alison J-B via Flickr

Retirement Freebies Cover Health, Education, Tax Prep And More

By Cameron Huddleston, Kiplinger Personal Finance

Senior discounts abound, making life in retirement a little more affordable. In some cases, though, older adults can get more than just a lower price; some goods and services that appeal to retirees come free of charge.

Here are eight great freebies many retirees can enjoy. Some are available only for those who’ve reached a certain age. Others are accessible to people of all ages, but can be especially beneficial for retirees living on a fixed incomes.

1. Free preventive care

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 now requires health insurers to cover certain preventive care — ranging from flu shots to cholesterol screenings — without these services being subject to the policy’s deductible or co-payments. Medicare beneficiaries can also get many preventive benefits without co-payments or deductibles.

The list includes mammograms, screenings for cervical and colorectal cancer, pneumonia shots, and an annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan. See Medicare’s Preventive and Screening Services for a full list. You become eligible for Medicare at 65.

2. Free prescription drugs

Several supermarket pharmacies, including Harris Teeter, Meijer, PriceChopper and Publix, offer select antibiotics, diabetes medications and other generic drugs for free. You might need to enroll in a pharmacy loyalty program to receive the free drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies also offer free and low-cost drugs to low-income people without prescription-drug insurance. You can use the RxAssist database, http://www.rxassist.org/patients, to find free medication through drug companies’ patient assistance programs.

3. Free eye care

EyeCare America, a public service program of the American Academy of Opthamology, provides free eye exams and up to one year of care for any disease diagnosed during that exam for those who are 65 and older and haven’t seen an eye doctor in three or more years. Visit EyeCareAmerica.org for program guidelines and to see if you qualify.

4. Free education

About 60 percent of accredited, degree-granting institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to an American Council on Education study. In fact, several states have laws requiring state-supported institutes of higher learning to waive tuition for older residents (usually age 60 or 65 and older). Some tuition-waiver programs allow credit to be earned for the course, while others only allow the course to be audited.

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5. Free tax preparation

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help to all taxpayers with an emphasis on those age 60 and older. Volunteers, who are certified by the IRS, specialize in pension and other retirement-related tax issues. Use the TCE locator tool to find a site near you. And AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers, especially those 60 and older, at more than 5,000 locations.

6. Free museum admission

Most museums offer senior discounts for admission, but a few actually let older adults visit for free on certain days. For example, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City gives people 65 and older free admission the first Monday of every month.

Several museums offer free admission one day a month to residents of the city, county or state where they’re located. For example, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta offers free admission for Fulton County, Ga., residents the first Saturday of each month and the Art Institute of Chicago lets Illinois residents visit for free on Thursday evenings. And Bank of America cardholders can gain free admission to more than 150 museums on the first full weekend of every month.

7. Free state park admission

Several state park systems — among them Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Texas — offer older adults free admission or a free annual pass. Some passes require a small processing fee, and some state sites are not included in the admission-fee waiver.

8. Free transportation

Some localities and states let older adults ride for free on public transportation. For example, the Pennsylvania Free Transit Program allows people 65 years and older to ride bus, trolley and rapid-transit lines for free with a senior citizen transit identification card (which also is free). Some places, such as Orange County, Calif., offer free community transit programs that help older adults get to select locations.

Photo: Terrell Woods via Flickr

(c) 2015, Kiplinger Personal Finance. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.