dollar-505516_640

Dear Josh: When did we grow up?

by / 0 Comments / 34 View / August 31, 2015

Hello reader! Do you want to ask ME, Josh “The Wandering, Argumentative Graphic Designer” Rivera, a question? Seriously, I’ll answer it straight up. Your life is in shambles? I got your back! You just want to know what my favorite books are? I’ve been DYING to write that one for a while! Anyway, I encourage you to shoot me an email at graphics@beltonjournal.com. Please. Or else I’m never doing another Finding Fido ad again. All those puppies and kittens? Their lives are on YOU.

How do you get the best deal on a student loan from a bank? I don’t really have a credit score, and I’ve heard that I need to build it up. I know it’ll be expensive regardless, but I just don’t want to have super high interest rates because I don’t have good credit. I’m hoping if I show them a law school acceptance letter, they’ll understand!
-Ryan, Orlando

I assure you that your bank will understand, but not care in the slightest. The interest rate of your loan and whether or not its even approved will be determined by how much of a risk you are, and as a young man about to enter law school without a shred of credit history to your name, you’ve got nothing to prove that you’re fiscally responsible. Of course, I faced this a few months ago. I was burdened with credit card debt with absurd interest rates for over a decade, and I’ve only been able to afford to pay minimums of around $200 every month. It wasn’t putting a dent on the debt since most of that went towards interest. Finally, my aunt came forward and offered to put her own personal savings down as collateral for me to consolidate all of my credit card debt into a bank loan. Now, my credit score isn’t so horrible; despite the large payments, I did indeed pay them, and I hovered around the 700 range. Despite that, my aunt’s CD was what enabled me to get a decent interest rate (around 3%) from the bank, and I’m now finally able to pay down that debt, though my monthly payment is still fairly high.

In your case, I can only recommend that you get your parents, or other loved ones who trust you, to cosign the loan. Sure, you’ll be beholden to not only the bank, but them as well to responsibly use your money, but that will at least enable you to pursue your dream to become an attorney. I imagine the acceptance letter and your own academic history is enough to convince your parents to take a gamble here, at least from what I know. Just do me a favor and become a Phoenix Wright-esque defender of the innocent and downtrodden, and confidently point your index finger at decisive evidence proving your client’s innocence! (By the way, play the Ace Attorney games if you haven’t already. Those are awesome and life affirming. If you don’t have a Nintendo DS, they’re on the iOS App Store.)

What’s your take on Microsoft Office being subscription based?
-Tommy, Killeen

Argh. Look, I know that a yearly Office license priced at around $130 or so is easier to swallow than a full version of the Office suite for $300~, but I still think it’s money grubbing. And yes, I understand it’s a bit cheaper for students at around $90 for an Office 365 Student & Teacher Edition license (who are a very significant audience of people who need word processors), but paying that much money essentially for software that lets people type stuff is just absurd.

I understand that Office legally cannot be bundled with PCs and laptops due to an antitrust suit, but there has to be a better way. I mean, I’m actually typing up this column in OpenOffice right now, a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office. I’m certainly NOT going to pay over a hundred bucks a year just so I have the privilege to write stuff or open Excel files. No. Just… no.
Recently, Microsoft made the kind gesture of releasing a free, albeit basic version of the Office software suite for Android devices. It’s a smart move for ensuring that their file types remain relevant in an era where more work, business, and communication is conducted on mobile devices instead of the PCs they control. However, the idea that typing on a keyboard on my home PC (which I’m doing right this very moment) is worth $130 a year while doing the same on my phone is free is still laughable. The moment professors realize this and switch to a non-proprietary format for data entry or paperwork is the moment we are freed from the shackles of the machine.

Basically, I’m waiting for Google Docs, OpenOffice, and other free alternatives to become more popular before we can see real change in this industry. I mean, seriously, people think they literally have to pay $130 a year just so they’re allowed to write papers and stuff!

[ADDENDUM: So it turns out I was completely wrong on the prices of Office Home & Student Edition! My dearest apologies. Office Home & Student Edition costs $139.99, while a personal Office 365 license costs about $69.99 a year. This does not take into account any schools or businesses which offer the software either free or at a discounted rate to students and/or employees. I still think it’s pricey, but it is what it is.]