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Financial Planning 101

Post by Katrina Dan Zhao, UBC Vantage Orientations Assistant
Navigating living on your own means learning some basics of “adulting”: how to deal with money. Being at university certainly isn’t cheap, and knowing how to spend your money wisely is something everything student must know - unless you want to end up eating ramen noodles every day. Welcome to Finance 101!
If you are a prospective Vantage student, don’t forget to apply for these scholarships offered by Vantage College. The program offers three awards targeting different students, so make sure you’re aware of the requirements and what you’ll need to prepare. P.S. This year’s deadline is December 1st, 2016!
If you have received a scholarship, you will then need talk to your Enrolment Service Professional (ESP) about how to transfer the scholarship into tuition. Some scholarships require personal transfers, while others can go directly to UBC. The key is always to talk to your ESP! Make sure you find yours on the Student Services Centre under Personal Info > Contacts.
You can also work during your education in Canada. Your study permit may give you eligibility to work part-time during winter, full-time during the summer and it should be stated clearly on your study permit. If your study permit doesn’t allow you to work, you will need to apply for a work permit. The International House offers resources to address any immigration concerns. Their drop-in hours is Monday-Friday from 1PM to 4PM, so be sure to try talk to an advisor before starting the application process.
Once you have your work or study permit ready, you must go to the Service Canada office to receive a social insurance number (SIN). This number is a confidential document that allows the government to track your income. You will be providing this to your employer and will need this number to fill in your taxes later on.
If you are 19, or with the authorization of a guardian, you may open a credit card account. Different credit card offers different benefits. If you are planning on staying in Canada, credit cards are a good way to build your credibility. Here are some terms that many of you might be confused about when visiting a bank:
  • Cash Back: A program where a percentage of the amount spent is paid back to you. For example, if you spent $100 and the cash back is 1%, that means you will be paid back $1 every time you spend $100 on the credit card.
  • Air miles: This program allows you to gather points every time you spend money with your credit card. You may use these points on flights.
  • Statement: This document show you the amount of money you spent since the last due date.  
  • Minimum payment due: This is the smallest amount you can pay without incurring a penalty from your credit card issuer. However, this can damage your credit score in the long run.
  • Overdue: This is a delayed bill not paid by the assigned date.
  • Credit score: Your credit score can affect your future loans, mortgages and employment. You can check your credit score by ordering a free credit report from either Equifax or TransUnion.
If you are planning on using a credit card from another country, make sure to talk to your bank about the processing fee and currency rate system. It’s always better to know more information and plan ahead. Many banks also offer discount or no-annual fee for UBC students, so ensure you do your research before opening up an account.
Taxes are also another important aspect of student finances. Even if you don’t have a job, you are still encouraged complete your tax return before April 30th every year. Go to Canada Revenue Agency’s website to understand what your rights, entitlements, and obligations are under Canada's tax system. While most unemployed international students are not required to fill in a tax return, we still encourage you to do so as you may be able to carry forward all or part of your tuition, education, and textbook amounts, to use in a future year.
If you are struggling with filling in the forms or just want to make sure you’re doing it right, UBC offers support at the Tax Assistance Clinic - book an appointment with them to get help from the professionals!
Financial Tools
UBC offers many useful tools for students to plan their monthly budget. You can download the spending plan spreadsheet and other worksheets here.