Heading off to post secondary school for the first time can be very exciting… and very stressful! Not only is there a new academic learning curve, but some of you may be heading off to live on your own for the very first time. So whether you’re a student who is flying the nest or a parent who is preparing their child for this next chapter in life, here is some information that may come in handy to avoid getting yourself into a financial jam.

1. Getting your first credit card? Read the fine print!

I applied for, and received, my first credit card when I was heading off to university… but I didn’t read the details very carefully. While credit cards can be useful, don’t get into a difficult financial situation by signing up for a bunch of them and overextending your credit. Make sure you understand interest rates and payment terms – click here to read our blog post on what to consider when choosing a credit card.

2. Be cautious when signing up for a cell phone 

It’s easy to get tempted by the newest and greatest cell phone, but you don’t want to be on the hook for something you regret for the next few years. Remember you’re signing a legal agreement – make sure you understand the time commitment, billing details, replacement costs, data charges and more. (If you have a complaint about your cell phone provider down the road, you may want to contact the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services.)

3. Ask about returns and refunds

Whether you’re buying new clothes, dorm room furnishings or a computer, keep in mind that stores are not legally required to offer an exchange or give you a refund. Before you buy, always ask the store about their return and refund policies and keep a copy of your receipt. More information about returns and refunds is included in this blog post.

4. Know what to expect with gift cards

Gift cards can be a great way to budget for groceries and other life expenses. And while many gift cards sold in BC don’t have fees or expiry dates, there are some exceptions. For example, a gift card for a specific good or service (such as a haircut) can expire, but a gift card for a general amount (such as $50 to a hair salon) cannot. Check out this blog post to learn more about BC’s gift card law.

Do you have a tip to share? Leave a comment below!


Getting your first car? Read this before you sign the sales slip
Joining a gym? Here’s why you should “sweat” your membership, first
Getting your first credit card? Remember it’s not a free ride
Getting a cell phone? Don’t phone in the contract