Dear Barb—Royally Flushed

Dear Barb:

I really messed up. I went away to university and ended up getting into online poker. Me and a couple of buddies lost all our OSAP money through gambling, now we don’t have the money for our tuition and my parents think my tuition has been paid. One of my buddies won, so I thought eventually I would win, so I kept playing. I even ran up my credit cards. I feel awful. What am I going to do? My parents will freak when they find out.  I don’t know what to do. I need some advice!! Thanks, Tyler.

Hey Tyler:

You are right you have got yourself into a mess, but you are not alone. Many students who go out on their own for the first time don’t know how to budget and end up spending money on things they shouldn’t. Some 70% of all college and university students feel stressed because they don’t have the money to do the things they want.  For you it was gambling, sometimes it’s shopping, or going out to concerts or bars. As you are realizing, if you don’t get a grip on things they get out of hand. I have shared this link before, but I think it’s worth repeating, it is on the Government of Canada website :

Also the following website offers additional information on financial planning for University students:

This website will help once you get your finances in order, but right now you have to talk to your parents. There is no way around it. You have to own up to what you did and take responsibility. Gambling should be something you do with your extra money, (if you have any) not money you need for bills, or tuition. Don’t beat yourself up, you realize you made a mistake, so now you can move on. Look for ways you can replace the money you lost. For example, find a part time job that you can do throughout the school year, that way you will have your own spending money.

I’m sure your parents will pay your tuition, but you should be responsible for your own spending money. This is an expensive lesson to learn.  As well, you might want to get some financial advice through your university or college. Most provide advice and counselling to students, as this is such a common problem. Good Luck in the future Tyler.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.