Analysis

How to make your dental bill less painful

And more of the week's best financial advice

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

Making dental bills less painfulTo avoid an unexpectedly high dental bill, do some research "before you rush to the dentist," said Kelli Grant at CNBC. Dental insurance policies often have low annual limits on coverage, typically about $1,000, which means most people hit their limit quickly for anything other than routine care. Ask your insurer for a fee schedule detailing what charges will be covered. Then, shop around for care. "Use a comparison site, such as Healthcare​Bluebook.com, to figure out what a fair price is in your area for a given procedure." If you don't have insurance and need care immediately, consider buying a dental discount plan, which offers savings at participating dentists and kicks in immediately. The plans can also be combined with traditional dental insurance for more savings.

Big fees for student loan defaultersBorrowers who can't pay their student loans "could find it even tougher to dig out of debt now," said Susan Tompor at the Detroit Free Press. The Department of Education recently reversed an Obama administration policy that barred guaranty agencies from hitting borrowers with hefty fees, as long as they began repaying their debt within 60 days of a default. The fees, which could amount to 16 percent of the outstanding balance and accrued interest, apply only to loans taken out under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, "which hasn't issued new loans since July 2010." It's a harsh reminder that borrowers should do everything they can to keep up with their student loan repayments. "If you default, you will be subject to collection charges and wage garnishment, and the government can seize your income tax refund."

Negotiating a 'phased retirement'More pre-retirees are hoping to "ease into their second act" by retiring gradually, said Ted Beck at The Wall Street Journal. But "what happens when your employer isn't keen on phased retirement as an option?" Parry your boss's concerns by focusing your negotiation on what's in it for the company, and be prepared to make some concessions. If the worry is that you'll be too expensive, even at half the hours, volunteer for a salary reduction. And point out that you can transition from workplace health insurance to Medicare when you turn 65. Your employer should also "weigh the risk of hiring a young person who could leave in two years against your solid commitment to a five-year phased retirement."

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