This easy trick will help lower your monthly bills

And more of the week's best financial advice

Sometimes, all it takes is a quick phone call.
(Image credit: iStock)

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

Want lower bills? Just ask.

Your monthly bills aren't necessarily set in stone, said Geoff Williams at US News. Simply calling up service providers, like your cable company or credit card issuer, to ask for a lower rate is sometimes all it takes to score substantial savings. Experts suggest starting with open-ended questions, such as "Where can you save me money?" or "What discounts are you offering right now that I can take advantage of?" Also, customer service reps are more likely to spend time haggling if you call earlier in the day, and more likely agree to a better deal right before lunchtime or closing. Not a great negotiator? Services like Shrinkabill​.com and will make calls for you in exchange for a share of the savings. Shrinkabill.​com, for example, will keep 45 percent of your savings for the first year.

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Divorce and your 401(k)

"Divorce among couples near retirement age has its own custody complications: how to divvy up the retirement accounts," said Jessica Dickler at CNBC. The divorce rate among adults over age 50 doubled between 1990 and 2014, and in Baby Boomer splits, only alimony is fought over more than retirement accounts and pensions. Retirement savings acquired during a marriage are generally divided 50-50, experts say, but that doesn't necessarily mean an even dollar amount should go to each person, especially if the parties are in different tax brackets. Instead, "retirement accounts should be divided on their after-tax value." For example, if a couple is dividing a $200,000 401(k) or IRA, one spouse might take $110,000 and the other $90,000, depending on their incomes, "to ensure that they each receive an equivalent after-tax value."

Catching up your HSA

Just as with an IRA or 401(k), you can make catch-up contributions to a health savings account, said Kimberly Lankford at Kiplinger​. HSAs, which are available to people enrolled in high-deductible health insurance policies, allow you to set aside money tax-free to pay for medical expenses for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. Unlike funds in flexible spending accounts, HSA money can accumulate year to year. You can make catch-up contributions of up to $1,000 starting the year you turn 55. That's in addition to this year's $3,350 limit for people with self-only coverage, or the $6,750 limit for family coverage. Spouses, however, can't both make catch-up contributions to the same account.

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