Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
Weighing in at the office
Employers' wellness programs are raising questions about privacy and discrimination, said Te-Ping Chen at The Wall Street Journal. Some workers do "enjoy the idea of being rewarded for a healthy lifestyle." Chereesa Williams works in Houston for the agribusiness King Ranch. She "wears a company-provided Fitbit," and each morning she "steps on an employer-provided scale." In return, she gets $1,200 discounted from her annual health premiums. But some programs can feel like surveillance. Last year, a teachers' strike in West Virginia was "partly spurred by the introduction of Go365, an app used to track steps, sleep, and heart rate." While it's illegal to force you to provide health information for a wellness program, some "providers retain the right to sell aggregate user data to advertisers and others," which critics fear could expose individual health records.
The real price of a diamond
The "three-month rule" for engagement rings is an illusion, said Quoctrung Bui at The New York Times. You know the old rule of thumb, rooted in a De Beers ad, that a proper ring should cost about three months' salary. A poll of 1,640 people revealed that actually the typical American spends about 4 percent of a year's income on a ring, or two weeks' pay. The median price was $1,900, with most purchases falling in the $500 to $3,000 range. Overall spending increased with higher incomes — but the percentage of income spent remained "remarkably flat." The process of buying a ring, however, has changed. "More couples are shopping together and discussing what they want and what they can afford."
Senate student loan proposal
Senate Republicans have proposed overhauling the student loan system so that "borrowers would have their monthly bills automatically deducted from their paychecks," said Annie Nova at CNBC. Currently there are more than a dozen ways to repay education debt, which has swelled to an average of around $30,000. Under the new proposal, there'd be only two: capping borrowers' monthly bills at 10 percent of discretionary income or spreading the payments out over a decade. Proponents of the plan say it would "streamline the student loan system and protect" some 40 million borrowers. But critics are calling it "mandatory wage garnishment" that will unfairly let companies know the details of their employees' debt.