Are senior discounts a right or a privilege? This week, readers share concerns about shrinking, changing and vanishing discounts. Also, a creative reader offers her save-smart tip for cheaper meats.

Q: I went to the doughnut shop yesterday and requested the senior discount. To my surprise, they reduced it from 10 percent to 5 percent! Does each store determine its own senior discount amount?

Q: A restaurant we go to used to give a senior discount at age 55. Now they have a sign saying it is age 60. I told the manager that is not fair. He said sorry, but they couldn't afford to keep it at 55. Isn't there something that says they can't change it, since it had been 55?

A: Senior discounts are voluntary, not mandatory. Any establishment offering a senior discount is doing so to encourage future, ongoing business. But the store, restaurant, theater or other business is absorbing the loss created by the discount.

If a business is losing money or can't afford to offer the discount, the company is free to adjust the discount, age eligibility and, ultimately, whether they'll continue to offer a senior discount. In today's difficult economy, discounts help seniors save money, but the business has to sustain itself as well.

On another topic, one reader offers a great tip for saving on meats that she felt I overlooked in a previous column on meat coupons. I recommended looking for coupons for brand-name meats, as well as keeping an eye on your store's deli/meat counter for promotions.

Q: In your column about coupons for fresh meat, you forgot to men- tion that while coupons for fresh meat are scarce, the meat counter at the store will often put coupons on meat that is getting close to the sell-by date. I will buy marked-down meat items and put them in my freezer for later use if it's not something I can use right away.

Yes, meat is still the largest part of my food budget expense-wise, but at least this way I feel like I've saved what I can and we still can enjoy meat or poultry most nights.

A: I love picking up close-to-expiring meats at a discount, too. Two of my area supermarkets mark their meat down differently. One puts “peelie” coupons on the top for dollars off, depending on how close the meat is to the best-buy date.

The other reduces the price on the label. It never hurts to ask your store's meat market if there are certain days they drop the prices. Then you'll know when to stop by deals.

Visit www.jillcataldo.com. Email jill@ctwfeatures.com.