Hands down, the best $25 I've ever spent: AARP's Life@50+ National Event. That's the price of admission for the entire three day event ($35 for non-members), and you easily get 10 times that amount in return value in the form of world class entertainment, cutting edge information, and schwag ... lots and lots of schwag.
This past week, Life@50+ 2012 was held in New Orleans, and on Saturday - the last day of the event - I woke
up with a mighty hangover. It wasn't from a late night on Bourbon Street, although even this cheapskate freed up a couple of spare bucks to enjoy a cold one on America's most famous party street.
Mine was a sensory hangover, still coming down off the evening before and a special advance screening of Billy Crystal's hilarious new movie "Parental Guidance" (in theaters this December). Of course, not to brag, but Billy was on hand personally to chat about the film with those of us in the audience. And, yes, tickets to that event, as well as about half a dozen other featured "Movies for Grownups," were included in the $25 admission fee.
But spending the evening with Billy Crystal was really no big deal, since the day before I'd heard President Obama speak (via live broadcast), as well as Paul Ryan, not to mention some other folks you might have heard of, including Hoda Kotb, Emeril Lagasse, LeVar Burton, Leeza Gibbons, James Brown, Jean Chatzky, and Dan Marino, to drop just a few of the names of those on hand.
Then there were all of the educational sessions, including "How to Retire the Cheapskate Way," presented by yours truly and rumored to be the only session at Life@50+ to feature a large fire ax. Over the three days I learned about everything from getting the most out of Medicare to how to grow a better vegetable garden, and I even got some tips for spicing up this cheapskate's love life. (For some reason, my wife highlighted that last session for me to attend on the event schedule.)
Yep, not bad for 25 bucks.
And it's a good thing I brought an empty suitcase with me to New Orleans, because that just about accommodated the 31 pounds of schwag (per the scale at the airport!) that I scored from the hundreds of exhibitors at the expo. Hats, T-shirts, sunglasses, tote bags, pencils, pens, flashlights, key chains, earphones, wallets, coin purses, pocket tools, CDs, DVDs, pins, buttons, badges, bumper stickers, books, magazines, maps, travel guides, chocolate ... and that was just what I pocketed the first day. My Christmas shopping is pretty much done thanks to all the freebies I came home with.
It's going to take me a while to recover - and unpack - from this year's Life@50+. But I'd better not take too long, because in 2013, for the first time, there will be two Life@50+ National Events, one in Las Vegas (May 31-June 1, 2013) and one in Atlanta (October 4-5, 2013). And the even better news is that the Las Vegas event is just before my 30 th wedding anniversary, so I'll be able to come home from the Expo with some extra special gifts for my dear wife. After all, isn't 30 years the "Free Schwag Anniversary?"
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Join the AARP Savings Challenge on AARP.org Oct. 1-28. Learn how to get started saving, join the Savings Challenge group, and track your savings (and enter the contest) via the savings tracker. Your savings tips could win you a prize. Read our contest rules.