Between the cost of tuition, books, residence fees and day-to-day life, it’s no surprise that most students take on summer jobs to stay afloat financially between school years.

Unfortunately, few understand the ins and outs of exactly how they get paid.

Angela Haier, an experienced payroll adviser and vice-president of ADP Canada, says inexperience can often breed confusion for many students at a summer job.

“For a lot of them, it’s their first paycheque. If there’s a payroll mistake, it’s often because payroll is complex. It looks easy, but it’s not,” Haier said.

Haier recommends taking a good look at your first pay stub to see what is being deducted so you can get a sense of where your money is going. First order of business: The Canada Pension Plan. If you are over 18, your employer should be taking off a premium, but if you’re not 18, CPP payments should not be taken out of your pay at all.

Next, make sure taxes are being taken off, correctly, from your paycheques. Students still have to pay taxes like anyone else and finding out a year later that you actually owe a large sum of money to the government is infinitely more painful than just having a few bucks disappear regularly. You should also leave a reliable address for your employer to later send your T4 tax slip to, and make sure to pick up T4 slips from every place you work during the summer.

Haier also recommends keeping track of all hours you work so you can check to see they’re being included on your pay stubs.