How does one find out about these things? Do you have to go to them at any regular frequency? Because, original poster's sentiments notwithstanding, this actually sounds like a great way to make some extra cash (although useful to know: bring a book/food/pillow) on a very flexible schedule.
@deathcabforcutes I could see a path through the flow chart that goes: Do I need it? No -> Can I afford it? Yes -> Would it make my life better? Yes -> Would buying it mean I can't afford
I hate switching to a new phone (spending weeks finding where some UI designer hid the features that I use - migrating all my contacts, text messages, pictures, etc used to be the worst part, but with a smart phone much of that is automagic/in the cloud), so I keep mine until it's not usable, usually about 4 years. For flip phone users looking to upgrade, the things I'd recommend looking for: Good keyboard support - you will pry my Swype from my cold dead hands (the existence of Swype is part of why I got a smartphone), but other folks prefer real slideout keyboards, or other autocompletes. Good GPS - having a map you can rely on is very handy, and the sensor quality can vary widely across phones. Check out reviews for specific models. Right size - for me, things like the n5 may as well be tablets; I can't comfortably hold it securely for long periods in one hand, much less use it one-handed. My Nexus S is about the biggest I'd want to go, which seriously limits my options if I did want to upgrade (thankfully, it's still going strong after 3.5 years).
If 'Exceeds expectations' means 'large bonus/promotion', most managers understand that and hand it out accordingly. So the goal is not to 'exceed expectations' literally. The goal is to make your manager think you deserve a bonus/promotion. The article suggests that one way to do that is to be incredibly reliable, and that matches up with my experience - someone where I can say 'Hey, will you do X by Friday?', they say 'sure', and then X is reliably done by Friday, that is an awesome person. Someone who just randomly does extra stuff? That's great, but not as good.
This is actually a good strategy to use well before things get to the going-to-court state - shoddy record keeping is certainly not unique to shady debt collectors (I speak from experience), so while I wouldn't advocate this as a way to get free money (as a different person in the Ira Glass interview is described as doing), if charges/interest amounts don't look right to you, say something about it. Possibly repeatedly, and in the face of aggressive guilt tripping from the billing department.
@jquick I use tweezers, and I have crazy thick eyebrows. But, I don't go for the pencil-line-thin look, which I could see being tricky to get on your own. That said, I also don't really do the salon/beauty treatment thing (makeup is for special occasions like weddings, and I get my hair cut every year or so), so maybe I just look unkempt and don't know? Sounds like I save a bundle by my obliviousness, though.
Assuming the $500 in option 3 is an annual thing, I would vote for option #3. If everything goes right, you save over a thousand in deductible/HSA spending. But suppose everything goes wrong: for plan #1, you pay 500 - 2000 dollars. For plan #3, you pay 2250 - 4000. But if you adjust for the deductible/HSA savings (1222 + 500), plan #3 actually becomes $528 - $2278. Which means if you have no major health issues, you'll save $1700 on plan #3 vs #1, and if you do have a major health issue, you'll spend $28-$278 total more on #3 vs #1. If you can average this over a few years, then even with a major health issue in 4 out of 5 years, you'd come out ahead on plan #3. If you're expecting health issues, though (pre-existing conditions, planning on pregnancy/wisdom teeth removal/etc), #1 probably makes sense.
+1 to take the promotion, apply to grad school (start working on the application now), and leave in 10 months. Think of it this way: at the moment, your company has no one except you ready to jump into this position. If you take the new job, you have 10 months to find and groom a successor who can then take over for you when you leave. You'll be leaving your co-workers in a way better position then they currently are, and you'll be in a better financial position, particularly if you keep the roommates. Bonus: if you dislike having the roommates, keeping them will help stave off some of the complacency you're worried about.
I've used a realtor twice (once buying, once selling) and bought once without. Not using one saves you money, even if the "seller pays", since the buyer is the one putting the money on the table. If you can say to the seller/seller's realtor 'look, you net 3k/6k/9k more out of this because I don't have a realtor that you have to pay 3% to', that makes your offer more attractive than an identical offer from someone with a realtor. And while I always read all the fine print, I found not having a realtor made me follow up with folks with even more detail, and prevented a couple of snafus. I would never use one again for buying. For selling, on the other hand, I adored my realtor - I was pretty busy with other life things, and she did all the staging/sprucing up/photos/open houses/etc without me needing to lift a finger (she also gave me cookies). She nearly paid for her commission in what she saved me by knowing people in the business and getting good deals.
@Theestablishment Care to elaborate? I've done this at a couple different jobs, and it's information I've been glad to have every time. One place, I was making less than a coworker, but not by a lot and for totally understandable reasons. Another place, I was making less than someone in the exact same job, who had started at about the same time as I did. I got to find out 2 things: (1) HR/recruiting lied through their teeth about what the salary bands are and (2) it doesn't matter if you don't want to work there, or if the offer isn't competitive, get an offer from another company for negotiation leverage. These are extremely useful facts for negotiating raises.