The week's best financial advice

Three top pieces of financial advice — from tuition insurance for college students to Byzantine wireless plans

College graduates.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

No need to retire all at once

More Americans are opting for "phased retirement" instead of a "cold-turkey withdrawal from the workforce," said John Wasik at The New York Times. Many near-retirees are negotiating work arrangements that include fewer hours, off-site work, or special projects, with the flexibility to take extra time off for leisure. Nearly half of human resource professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said they "offered reduced hours or part-time positions to older workers." Employees considering a phased retirement should start by determining whether they can afford to live on a reduced income. Taking Social Security before the full retirement age of 66 will mean receiving lower payments. Also consider that Medicare doesn't start until age 65. A phased retirement could mean higher health insurance premiums, too.

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Tuition insurance for college students

"No family wants to envision a child withdrawing from school," said Danielle Douglas-Gabriel at The Washington Post. But with college costs soaring, a growing number of parents are buying tuition insurance, just in case. Many colleges reimburse a portion of tuition and on-campus housing costs if a student drops out within the first few weeks. Tuition insurance policies offer added peace of mind, because they cover an entire semester. Allianz, which offers plans in 10 states, provides 100 percent coverage up to $50,000 if a student has to withdraw for a mental health condition, illness, or death, and 50 percent for other reasons except drug use and expulsion; the price is 6 percent of the total cost of school.

Byzantine wireless plans

"We may be hitting peak complexity with phone plans," said Brian X. Chen at The New York Times. Carriers are increasingly moving away from the standard two-year plan, but the contract-free options that have replaced it are hardly simple or straightforward. "Never before has the pricing been so complicated with all the carriers," according to Toni Toikka of research firm Alekstra. The new plans typically have four costs, which can shift over time: the price of the data plan, the cost of the device spread over monthly installments, an activation fee, and the monthly cost for each phone line. When shopping, calculate the total price for both types of plans over two years. "There is no one-size-fits-all phone plan," so it pays to do your homework.

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