A Guide to Taking A Gap Year After High School

A year-long break from homework, deadlines, and exams—if that sounds like a dream come true, you’re not alone. Faced with virtual learning and social distancing, a growing number of Canadian teens are hitting pause on their post-secondary studies and exploring options outside the classroom. And with more headlines popping up about the fast-track generation, the Great Resignation, and career burnout, taking a gap year after high school seems like a healthy choice these days.

Many experts agree that a break between high school and post-secondary education can be beneficial. Even high-profile young people, like Malia Obama, are saying sayonara to traditional studies and joining “the real world” instead. 

Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. For starters, there are many questions to answer during the planning stages: What should I do in my gap year? How much does a gap year travelling cost? What are the pros and cons of a gap year after high school? A gap year typically requires a lot of research, organization, financial planning, and above all, persistence. But for many teens, the payoff is plenty.

So, if you’re considering taking a gap year, here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of taking a gap year after high school and how to make the most of your time.  

New to Mydoh? Mydoh is a digital wallet and Smart Cash Card for kids and teens. Kids can use it to earn money through tasks and make purchases in-store or online. Parents can monitor spending and activities. Mydoh teaches kids responsible money management and smart financial decisions. Download Mydoh and start your free trial.

What is a gap year after high school?

A gap year is an extended period of experiential learning for students. It can be a few months or a full year, and it’s typically taken after high school and before pursuing post-secondary studies or a career. 

Why do students take a gap year? 

Most students take a gap year to deepen their practical, professional, and personal awareness and a gap year can involve anything: travel, working, volunteering, or learning a new skill. Consider it a “time out” for personal growth. 

“It’s an intentional time spent away from formal education to get ‘real world’ experience and understand who they are outside of a classroom,” says Michelle Dittmer, president and co-founder of the Canadian Gap Year Association (or CanGap). She says that while we traditionally think of a gap year as a pause between high school and university, it can also be an option for university or college students who want to take time off after graduation.

The concept of a gap year has existed for decades, but it started growing in popularity in North America around the 1980s. Since then, numerous experts have written about its merits, the most notable being a New York Times article written by William Fitzsimmons, former Dean of Admissions for Harvard College. Concerned by the “relentless” pressure put on students to succeed and increasing burnout, he wrote about the value of taking a breather. 

Fitzsimmions argues that a gap year is fundamentally a time to step back and reflect, to gain perspective on personal values and goals, or to gain life experience. 

Two teen girls traveling abroad in Thailand for their gap year after high school.

How many students take a gap year?

Available research suggests that only a small number of Canadian teens opt for a gap year. Data is limited, so it’s tough to nail down an exact number.

“It’s hard to measure because most folks who push pause on formal education don’t necessarily use the term ‘gap year,’” says Dittmer. “A 2020 survey of 17,000 students by Brainstorm Strategy Group found that 33 per cent of post-secondary students had taken time off.”

Similarly, a 2008 study by Statistics Canada found that 30 per cent of Canadian students took off more than four months from school before entering a post-secondary institution, but most did so for financial reasons. Looking south of the border, an estimated 60,000 American students typically postpone college to take a gap year. But that’s relatively small compared to other countries (Europe, Australia, Turkey) where it’s a rite of passage and as many as half of the students take a gap year. 

However, times are changing. Surveys from the American Gap Year Association indicate that the gap year has been on “a sharp rise” for at least a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has also recently played a part, triggering a spike in Canadian youth deferring post-secondary studies in favour of a “discovery year.”

Benefits of taking a gap year after high school

Whether it’s becoming fluent in French or gaining experience in a hot new industry, there are countless benefits to taking a gap year before university. You could even volunteer, which does good for you and the community. Regardless, it’s a special time in your life when you’re not bogged down by responsibilities and can just explore the “real you.” 

Nonetheless, many parents fret that a gap year may hinder their child’s educational success or career prospects. But that’s not so! The available research supports that a gap year can boost both things.

“Studies show that, compared to their non-gapping peers, gappers have higher GPAs, graduate in fewer years and are more involved on campus,” says Dittmer. “They are also more likely to find a job once they graduate.” 

Plus, non-gappers veer “off-track” too. An estimated 38 per cent of college and university students will drop out or change majors, which can mean wasted time and tuition. Whereas research validates that gap experiences can influence­­—and even solidify—a teen’s academic and career choices.

There are financial and emotional benefits as well. Many teens take gap years to shrink student debt by earning money, while others recharge their mental batteries so they can thrive in university, college, or the workplace. 

“Because each gapper and gap year is unique, the benefits are also unique,” says Dittmer. “Overarching benefits are increased confidence and independence, career clarity, and renewed mental health.” 

Seeing the advantages, an increasing number of colleges and universities are backing the idea of a “discover year,” with some even developing formal programs. Heck, there’s even a Harvard Gap Year Association “to advocate for the importance of taking Gap Years to prospective students and admitted students” as well as help returning “gappies” transition back to college life. 

Still skeptical? Check out these four benefits of taking a year off after high school and gap year benefit statistics:

Improves academic outcomes

  • Studies show that students who take a gap year perform better academically than their non-gap-year classmates. For example, on average, gappers had shorter times to graduation and higher GPAs as compared to national norms 
  • Gap experiences influence academic major and career paths: 60 per cent say the experience either “set me on my current career path/academic major” or “confirmed my choice of career/academic major.”  

Improves career prospects

  • 88 per cent of gap year graduates report that their gap year “significantly added to their employability” and students who have taken a gap year overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs. 
  • 67 per cent of hiring managers say it is beneficial for students and recent graduates to take a gap year during the pandemic, and 21 per cent of hiring managers are more likely to hire a candidate who had taken a gap year.
  • The Canadian Education Project reports that gap year students are less likely to change career paths once they return to school. 

Higher civic engagement

  • Gappers experience higher levels of civic participation (e.g., They vote! They volunteer!) compared to national norms.

Provides clarity and purpose

  • 78 per cent of students who took a gap year say it helped clarify what they wanted to do in their life. 

What are the cons of taking a gap year?

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns: there are some disadvantages of taking a gap year, starting with the cost. If the plan is to globe-trot, take courses, or volunteer, you’ll need cash to make it happen. For example, some estimate that an immersive, year-long international program could rack up a bill for $35,000 (USD) or more. 

Planning the #BestYearEver also means doing your homework. Sure, volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary sounds cool, but have you read the reviews or talked to past participants? Hitting the job market requires updating your resume and prepping for interviews. 

Backpacking abroad looks awesome on Instagram, but does your budget balance? From creating a budget to consulting knowledgeable people to completing paperwork, planning for a gap year can be a part-time gig.

“Gap years require a lot of research, planning and effort,” says Dittmer. “The biggest fear is that the gapper wastes their time. So, being able to set goals, stay accountable and manage your time are all factors to be considered.” 

Another downside? Prepare to encounter some naysayers along the way. Since “gapping” isn’t as popular in Canada, not everyone will react with enthusiasm or understand the purpose of a discovery year (like, maybe your parents?). 

A group of teenagers taking a gap year to volunteer and work at a food bank

5 things to do during a gap year as a teen

Grappling with how to spend your gap year? Here are a few ideas for the best things to do during a gap year.

1. Work

Let’s be real: post-secondary education is expensive and earning some dough to foot the bill is a smart move. Plus, a year on the job offers more than just money: it’s also an opportunity to get your first job, bulk up your resume as a teen, network with hiring managers, and build up a pool of references. You’ll also get a chance to test drive a possible career path before shelling out big bucks for a degree or diploma.

2. Travel

Savouring new foods, marvelling at world wonders, befriending interesting people—travel can be transformational. Oh, the places you’ll go! You might even work and study along the way.

But not without a plan first. Start by creating a budget and then look at what destinations are affordable. For instance, expect to fork over between $50 to $100 (USD) per day for living expenses, meals, and experiences in Europe, which is roughly $1,500 to $3,000 (USD) per month. Meanwhile, countries like Vietnam are more wallet-friendly, offering humble apartment rentals for as little as $250 (USD) a month and meals for a buck or two. 

Crunching the numbers can help narrow your travel choices. You may even want to consider working with a travel agent, who can help with pricing, bookings, and logistics.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, another option is to work and travel abroad. International Experience Canada (IEC) offers a shortcut to getting a job overseas, as the Canadian government has agreements with over 30 countries and foreign territories (including Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Japan) to make it easier for Canadian youth to work and travel abroad. So if you’ve ever wanted to work on a sheep station in the outback of Australia or work in a ski resort in Japan, start by completing an application online.

3. Volunteer

Whatever your passion, there’s likely an opportunity where you can lend a hand at home or abroad and give back to the community. To get you started, here are a few reputable resources to find volunteer opportunities for young Canadians:

Canada Service Corps (CSC): This Government of Canada program helps youth find meaningful volunteer service placements that focus on building essential life skills and experience. The website includes a database that lists over 100 organizations delivering CSC-funded volunteer service placements across Canada. They work in a variety of areas, including reconciliation, the environment, civic engagement, and more.

CanGap: Offers a database of gap year volunteer opportunities and internships in Canada and abroad.

World University Service Canada (WUSC): This Canadian non-profit organization works to “create a better world for all young people” and offers volunteer opportunities in Canada and abroad.

International Youth Internship Program (IYIP): This government program offers Canadian youth the opportunity to gain professional experience abroad in the field of international development, and to acquire skills that will prepare them for future employment or further their studies. Internships are offered through different Canadian partner organizations across 45 countries.

The Volunteer Cooperation Program (VCP): A Government of Canada program that provides opportunities for skilled Canadians (including youth!) to participate in international development assistance efforts. 

4. Learn new skills 

Maybe you’re inspired to master French cookery in Paris or get scuba certified in Australia. You can also learn a skill closer to home: whether it’s taking horticulture classes at the local botanical garden or enrolling in online coding courses, you never know when these so-called hobbies may pay off later.

5. Plan your next step in life

After almost 15 years of schooling, it’s only natural to crave a breather. A break from a traditional learning environment gives you time to plan your next move, research schools, and contemplate your career path. 

A teen girl creating a gap year plan in her notebook

How to make the most of a gap year 

From deciding how to spend your gap year to saving money to travel, Dittmer shares her “gap year golden rules” for making the most of a gap year:

Goals before Google: Know what you want to get out of your gap year before you start blindly searching online. “Ninety five per cent of gap year opportunities are not ‘Googleable’ using the ‘gap year’ term. Think about internships, volunteer opportunities, courses, travel, and so forth,” says Dittmer. 

Do your homework: When deciding “to gap or not to gap,” Dittmer says to be rigorous and “compare apples to apples.” For instance, you know what school looks like (classes, exams, papers, etc.), but do you really have a full picture of your gap year? It’ll take some digging. “Look at gap year options the same way you explore post-secondary programs and come up with a loose plan of what you might like to do. Then find support on how to do those things.” Dittmer recommends listening to the Gap Year Planning Podcast

Get help: There are hundreds of organizations and opportunities for young people to get involved in just about anything. Go find them! The Canadian Gap Year Association has some great resources and recommendations. 

Build a system to keep you on track. When it comes to setting goals and making plans, accountability buddies are your BFFs. “Find a mentor who you will check in with and get support from. Our gap year starter checklist has some great tips,” says Dittmer. She also recommends joining the Gapper Connect Community or the Gap Year Gameplan program.

Expect to spend: No matter what your plans are, you’ll need to open your wallet. Even having a job brings costs, such as buying a work wardrobe or covering commuting expenses. Enrolling in courses or activities adds up, as do flights to hop from country to country. “Don’t shy away from spending money on your gap year to develop new skills or have experiences,” says Dittmer. “Just prepare for it.”

Budget like a boss: Be real about what you can afford. That starts with learning budgeting basics and setting financial goals. “Some folks work for the year and come out with a healthy bank account, while others come out even, and some choose to invest in experiences,” says Dittmer. “Gap years come in all budgets.” 

Start earning and saving: If your gap year comes at a high price, start earning and saving now. You can use the Mydoh allowance app to bank some dough, or make money online as a kid. For a fun saving method, you could join the 52-Week Money Challenge. How it works: you start by saving $1 in Week 1 and then increase your savings by $1 each week thereafter. By the time you hit Week 52, you’ll have saved $1,378. The 365-day Money Challenge is the same idea: you save a little more every day, starting with $0.01 on Day 1 and then increasing your contributions by $0.01 daily. By day 365, you’ll have banked $667.95!

Tip: Our free savings goal calculator will do that math for you! Enter your earnings, what you spend, and see how many weeks it’ll take to save for your gap year goals.

Apply for financial aid: If you’re willing to do paperwork, you may snag some free money for a discovery year. For instance, CanGap is launching gap year scholarships and RBC offers $1,500 scholarships that are ideal for gappers.

Is taking a gap year worth it?

As Dittmer says, “A gap year is not for everyone.” It’s a personal choice, and it will take a little soul-searching to decide whether now is the right time. The first step is to contemplate your goals and ambitions and a realistic plan for achieving them. Reach out to experts and past participants to get the goods on “gapping 101,” and thoroughly research your options.

Lastly, a balanced budget is essential to a successful gap year. Now is the time to sharpen your money management chops and explore the financial side of a year-long break from school. A good place to start is the Mydoh app, which is designed to give teens real-world experience of making their own money.

A time out from the classroom may feel daunting but just remember: it’s a once-in-a-lifetime journey that will undoubtedly shape your future self. 

Download the Mydoh app and Smart Cash Card to help teens develop financial independence and smart money habits during their gap year – you can even set up automatic savings, track spending, and start budgeting right away!

 

The Parents’ Guide to Roblox

So your kid is an obsessive Roblox player, huh? Take heart: They’re among millions hooked on this fun-filled online gaming platform. In fact, Roblox has reported nearly 50 million daily users in 180 countries.

Playable on smartphones, computers, tablets, XBox One, and even virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift, Roblox is actually not one game but a gigantic collection of games generated by users. Here’s what parents need to know about Roblox for kids.

New to Mydoh? Mydoh is a digital wallet and Smart Cash Card for kids and teens. Kids can use it to earn money through tasks and make purchases in-store or online. Parents can monitor spending and activities. Mydoh teaches kids responsible money management and smart financial decisions. Download Mydoh and start your free trial.

What is Roblox?

Think of Roblox a little like YouTube, but instead of videos, the platform offers millions of games. Kids and teens play using cute, figurine-style characters to navigate LEGO-like blocky, virtual reality environments. 

Pretty much anything kids might like to do IRL, they can do online in Roblox. They can visit theme parks, star in fashion shows, race cars, or explore cities like in the role-playing game Brookhaven RP. They can also create their own games.

While Roblox is basically a digital playground, it can also teach entrepreneurial lessons, game design, and even basic coding skills, according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a non-profit self-regulatory body.

A picture of the Roblox game on an iPhone

How does Roblox work?

Playing Roblox begins with creating an account. The sign-up page asks kids to fill in four fields: a username, a password, the player’s birthdate (so that the appropriate Roblox parental controls are activated), and an optional gender field. Fun fact: An email address isn’t required to create an account.

To play Roblox online, kids need to download and install the game on a device such as their smartphone, tablet, computer, or even Xbox One. Next up: Create an avatar, then dress it up with the free clothing options. Or, kids and teens can spruce up their avatar by buying upgraded clothing like fancy shoes (more on that later). From there, they’re ready to start playing. A landing page (or the “Discover” page) appears that shows them top games and even gives them recommendations, or they can search for a game they know of. 

In 2020, Roblox even added the option to host virtual events like birthday parties through its Party Place feature.

In addition, Roblox Studio is a separate free download that lets you create a simple game or build virtual rooms. Creators can even learn how to build complex games that could earn them money. 

How much does Roblox cost?

Roblox is free to download and to play, but right off the bat your kids will see there’s the option to upgrade their avatar’s look with clothes or gear using Robux. (We’ll explain what that is in just a second.)

Like your favourite “free” phone apps that offer in-game purchases (think Candy Crush), Roblox makes money by charging for some game elements, like special gear and clothes. 

Some games cost Robux to play. Others are free but charge for exclusive-access areas, special abilities, or goods. That said, it’s entirely possible to play Roblox without spending any real-world money. 

What is Robux?

Named with a witty twist on the word “bucks,” Robux is Roblox money (which is virtual currency). Interestingly, unlike other online games (or even real-world video arcades) where you buy coins, buying Robux in bulk doesn’t really lower the price. For example, 400 Robux cost $6.49 but 1,700 cost $25.99. Doing the math, 400 Robux cost $.016 per unit and 1,700 cost $.015 per unit, a negligible difference.

Alternatively, Roblox offers a Premium subscription feature that bills users for Robux every month. The cheapest plan is $6.49 for 450 Robux a month. 

As a parent, you may want to keep track of how much your kids are spending in Robux. The Roblox website accepts Prepaid Visa cards, including the Mydoh Smart Cash Card. That means kids can use their Smart Cash Card on their desktop. But if your kid adds one sheep too many to their flock, you can lock their Smart Cash Card right from the Mydoh app. (Parents so note that if their kids are playing Roblox on a gaming console, like an Xbox, any charges will go to the payment method on file).

Creators can also earn Robux from other players by publishing games that become popular. These Robux can be cashed out for dollars using the Roblox Developer Exchange Program. However, there are requirements, including that the creator must be at least 13 years of age. 

Roblox’s imaginative 3-D multiplayer games make it appealing to kids who want to meet up online with their real-life friends or make new friends with kids all over the world. 

Its appeal for kids and teens is that it offers an open-ended virtual world that allows for unstructured play, something that was in short supply when remote-learning and stay-at-home orders were the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Although Roblox has been around since 2004, it soared to blockbuster-level popularity in 2021. For example, the game Brookhaven had more than 12 billion visits in 2021, up from about 2 billion the year before. 

Like so many toys and games that spread like wildfire among kids and youth, YouTube videos helped make Roblox popular with kids. As with video games like Fortnite and Minecraft, word about this fun platform spread quickly among young gamers. 

Add in lots of indoor time when all birthday parties and extracurriculars were cancelled during a world-wide pandemic and a low barrier to entry (it’s free and you don’t even need an email address to sign up), and the Roblox phenomenon was born. 

Read more: 12 video games that can teach kids about money

Boy sits at desk playing Roblox on computer screen

Is Roblox safe for kids?

When parent-control settings are applied, Roblox is safe for kids. However, with any open online game with literally millions of users and a robust chat feature, kids and teens should exercise caution. 

To further increase safety, Roblox uses a combination of real humans and artificial intelligence to block chats that try to lure players off its platform; it blocks social media links and even questions related to personal information. 

As a parent, you can use the Roblox Parents feature to block swear words, names, and addresses in the chat. This feature can also tell whether avatars are wearing appropriate clothing. As for online bullies, players can block and report them.

Further controls you can use as a parent are limits on the types of games kids have access to and how much kids and teens can spend, and you can limit or disable the chat feature. 

Parents should be aware of the different experiences available to kids on Roblox. Some experiences, such as Rainbow Friends, might be more suitable for older players as they have horror-like elements and could be scary for younger children. There are also many experiences where parents can get in on the fun and play alongside their kids in certain games, like Work at a Pizza Place or Bird Simulator.

What age is Roblox appropriate for?

The Roblox age rating is E10+, according to the ESRB, which rates video games in Canada and the U.S. That means it’s suitable for everyone aged 10 and up.

However, kids of any age can sign up for Roblox because it doesn’t have a minimum age requirement. All players are filtered into one of two age categories: those 13 and over, and those under 13 years of age. 

When a player is under 13, Roblox enforces restricted settings. Children can only send a direct message to other users who are accepted as friends. By contrast, players age 13 and over can customize their account privacy settings.

It’s worth noting that kids can enter any birth date when they sign up—there’s no age-verification process to start playing Roblox. This means that, like on the TikTok app, they can pretend to be older to skirt the automatic restrictions. As a parent, one strategy you can use is to monitor them when they sign up, agree on clear boundaries, and keep an eye on their usage.

For more tips on helping your kids play video games safely, read our guide to gaming for kids.

Like Mydoh, virtual games can encourage real-world money skills 

For parents, the Roblox world (and its pull on our kids) can seem mystifying. But watching kids’ imaginations light up and their smiles spark says it all: It’s a digital playground that appeals with its endless ways to socialize, relax, and create. They can even learn lessons about purchasing power, spending, and saving that they can use in real life. Combined with the strong financial literacy your kids and teens may gain from Mydoh, it can help equip them to navigate the intricacies of finance as they grow up.

Download the Mydoh app and Smart Cash Card to keep track and react to your kids’ spending activity.

Kid Entrepreneurs: Meet Sweet August

For a lot of kids, entrepreneurship starts with selling glasses of cold lemonade on a warm day. Given Canada ranks as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, it’s not surprising that kids and teens are starting their own business

We spoke with 12-year-old Augie Balcers, owner of Sweet August about baking, business, how he began, and the lessons Augie has learned as a young entrepreneur. 

What’s the story behind why you began your business?

I’ve been running a baking business in the GTHA for a year-and-a-half and I offer custom baked goods—including vegan, low-fat, and halal. My first paying job was a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I began during COVID-19 because I enjoyed baking and I thought I might as well make some money. I took some online baking classes through Outschool and LeDolci Bakery, such as French baking, macarons, and chocolate masters class. We also had some family baking competitions during the pandemic, which were fun.

Did anyone or anything inspire you to start your own business?

No one inspired me to start my own business, but I enjoyed watching baking shows on Netflix and on TV like The Great Canadian Baking Show, Zumbo’s Just Desserts and Worst Baker in America. Also I’ve been baking since I was young with my parents and grandmother. 

What’s the one thing you’ve learned from running your own business? 

When people place an order, it needs to be on time, so I learned about time management. I also have a ledger and keep track of my expenses, so I have learned about money management as well. I’ve also learned to invest in my business and after my first order I put a quarter of it back into the business to pay for supplies. 

What do you love about what you do? 

I like baking and I like making my own money. It gives me spending money. I’ve used some of the money I made to contribute towards my ice skates and to buy Christmas presents for friends. 

What’s the one thing that surprised you about starting your own business?

Not many things really surprised me, because my parents advised me about some things, like investing in my business, but I was surprised at how expensive cake and pie boxes and business labels were. The boxes were $100, and the labels were about $20.

How did you manage the money side of running your business?  

My parents made me invest a certain amount of my earnings back into my business, but now that I’ve had a steady income, I’ve been able to keep more of the money and make a better profit. Once I had a job where I only made 49 cents profit, and that opened my eyes to realize that I had to price orders fairly so that they are not too expensive but that I can also make a decent profit.

How do you promote your business?

Word of mouth and Instagram. I first set up my Instagram account because I was doing charity baking with The People’s Pantry, and they asked me if I had an Instagram account so they could tag me. 

What advice would you give to other kids who want to start their own business?

My advice would be to manage your money well, and know that you won’t make a lot of money at the start in my type of business. To help manage my expenses, I get supplies from the Buy Nothing Project  or use gift cards I’ve been given. 

Craving a sweet treat? Sweet August’s specialties include Oreo cheesecake and freshly baked zucchini bread. Contact Sweet August by email to order or check out his baked goods on Instagram

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

Best Way to Save for Child’s Education in Canada

Average tuition costs in 2022/23 for Canadian undergrad students is around $6,834 per year, and that figure doesn’t include books, residence, or meals. Even if “meals” equate to mac and cheese, it’s still a lot of cheddah. It’s likely that costs will be even higher once your middle school kid is ready to leave the nest. Starting early and saving often is the smartest way to save for your child’s post-secondary education.

Whether your kids plan to head to university, college, or a trade school, here’s how parents can save for their child’s post-secondary education.

How to save for your child’s education

Establish an RESP

An RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) is a powerful tool to easily save for your child’s education. Just like an RRSP, your money will grow tax-free, as long as it stays in the RESP account. There is no limit to your annual contribution, but lifetime contributions are capped at $50,000. The Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG) is designed to boost your savings efforts further. The Government of Canada contributes 20 cents on every dollar you add to the RESP, up to a certain limit. There are a number of RESP products available, so it pays to educate yourself on the different options, depending on the age of your kids.

Open a TFSA

A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is another way to save for your child’s education. Just like an RESP, your money will grow tax-free. You can also withdraw money sitting in a TFSA, tax-free. There is a limit to how much you can contribute every year, and is capped at $6,000. However, a TFSA gives you the flexibility to use the funds for any reason—not just education costs. So if your child decides to take a different path in life, you’ll still be in a position to help them on their way.

5 ways to save for your child’s post-secondary education

Many of us think we don’t have enough room in our budget to make room for saving for post-secondary education. But with a little creative thinking, it’s possible to come up with the cash you need now to save for those tuition bill headaches down the road.

Here are the five best way to save for your child’s education in Canada:

1. Make extra cash

You don’t have to take on an extra part-time job to save for your kid’s university. Even small, creative ways of making some extra money will add up over time. Those bulky baby items taking up room in the garage? Trade-in your stroller or crib for cash at a used goods baby store, alternatively sell them yourself on websites like eBay and Kijiji. Gently worn children’s clothes, especially designer label items that seemed so necessary at the time, can also mean extra money in your pocket. Alternatively, turn your hobbies into a side-hustle. If you’re a whiz at whipping up cakes, offer your services to make children’s birthday cakes, or if you’re artsy, set up an online store and sell your creations.‍

2. Trim your budget

If you’re serious about finding room in your budget to establish an education fund, look for ways to cut out items in your current budget. Do you really need cable as well as all those streaming service subscriptions? What about your phone or internet plan? Consider switching to a cheaper service option or bill negotiation services. Cutting back on little extras like dinners out and extravagant birthday parties also make a difference. Your kid will still have a memorable birthday even without the professional entertainer. Buy quality second-hand items. It’s easy to find everything from gently used soccer cleats to video games.‍

3. Enlist family and friends for support

Birthdays, holidays, and special occasions are great opportunities to get your family on board. Rather than the latest video game, ask grandparents, friends, or aunts and uncles to beef up your child’s education savings. Alternatively, encourage them to pay for experiences you’d normally cover – like an art class or a visit to an amusement park in the summer – and invest that money yourself. After all, every little bit helps.

4. Take advantage of your Canada child benefit

Make the most of living in a country like Canada and consider saving your monthly Canada child benefit (CCB). The tax-free payment to eligible families helps cover some of the costs of raising a child under the age of 18. Stashing away even a portion of what you receive is another way to boost your child’s education savings.

5. Get your kids on board with saving money

Getting your child involved in saving for their own education is a great way to help raise money-smart kids. Older kids can get a part-time job or set up a business mowing lawns. Encourage them to save part of what they earn towards their own education. If your kid is too young to work, consider getting Mydoh. The app lets your kids earn money through tasks and chores that you set up for them. Not only will they learn the value of a dollar, but you’ll also free up some of your time by having someone else take out the garbage.

Group of students celebrate graduation from university

Start saving now for your child’s future education costs

Saving for tuition is only daunting when it is put off to later in your child’s life. It is important to start early so that you can save smaller amounts regularly, over a longer time. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so get others involved. That way, you’ll have a whole team of loved ones helping you save for your child’s education—including your kid.

Sign up for Mydoh today. Not only will you get a head start on saving towards the day you’ll be driving them to their halls of residence, but you’ll also help your kids build good money habits that’ll see them through to graduation and beyond.

Download Mydoh today to learn more.

How to Create a YouTube Channel for Your Kids

If your kid has access to a laptop, tablet or cell phone, chances are they’ve spent some time watching ordinary kids unwrapping toys, cooking, or playing video games on YouTube, while amassing lots of subscribers and getting sponsorships in the process. And as a parent, you may have rolled your eyes and wondered about the appeal of the content, or worried about how much time your kids are spending online. Or maybe there’s the constant pestering from your child about being allowed to create their own YouTube channel. 

We’ve got you! Here’s everything you need to know for a family discussion on whether or not starting a YouTube channel to make money is right for your kid or teen.

Why do kids want a YouTube channel?

There are many reasons that kids want to have their own channel on YouTube. Some of them include:

  • Having their own space where they can express themselves freely
  • Becoming famous and having more followers
  • As a way to earn money online
  • Having a platform to share their passions with others

Is it worth it to start a YouTube channel?

Dubbed “the second largest search engine in the world”—second only to Google, also owned by parent company, Alphabet—YouTube boasts 2 billion monthly logged-in users in over 100 countries. With content in more than 80 languages, there’s something for just about everyone on the platform. And while billions of hours of video are consumed, 500+ hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This means content creation isn’t slowing down anytime soon. And a number of the top YouTube stars are under the age of 25

Who is the most successful kid YouTuber?

One of the highest-grossing accounts on YouTube features a school-age boy named Ryan Kaji, who has been making videos with his family since he was three and now earns an estimated US$30 million a year between his video channel and clothing line. With kids seeing other teen influencers gain fame and fortune through video platforms like YouTube and TikTok, it’s natural for them to want to explore this mode of self-expression. Suddenly all that pleading from your offspring about creating a video channel has you curious. Should you allow it? Is it safe? How does your kid even start?

How old do you have to be to set up a YouTube account?

Due to the user data big platforms collect, you must be at least 13 years old to use YouTube. However, it does state on their site that “children of all ages may use the Service and YouTube Kids (where available) if enabled by a parent or legal guardian.”  Accounts that parents create for under-13s fall into a grey area with a lack of government oversight, even though it is estimated that 80 per cent of kids under 11 are on YouTube. Parents should know that while the U.S. has the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that governs what platforms can and cannot collect, Canada has no such enforceable law.

As the adult caregiver and decision-maker for your child, you should go through YouTube’s terms of service agreement together to make sure you understand what is permitted on the site, and whether you and your child agree to a public channel vs. a private one. 

“It’s important to set goals, and decide what you want out of these platforms,” says Canadian YouTube superstar, Andrew Gunnardie, better known as Gunnarolla. “Do you want to be famous? Do you want to make money? Do you just want a place to share the things that you’re interested in? Once you have defined your own idea of ‘success’ then you won’t get caught up in everyone else’s expectations.”

YouTube influencer, Andrew Gunadie/Gunnarolla, takes selfie with young teen fans
Andrew Gunadie/Gunnarolla takes selfie with fans.

While sharing creative ideas through video can be a highly enjoyable learning experience—one that can grow into a wonderful career or business venture—starting a social media channel is not without risk. It’s really important to consider, discuss, and assess what behaviours might impact your child negatively, be that something your child shares on their channel, comments from followers and viewers or responses and reactions from other content creators and even media outlets. More on how to keep kids safe on YouTube below, but first, the fun stuff!

What do you need to create a kid’s YouTube channel?

“There’s a saying that ‘the best camera is the one that’s with you,’ and I still believe that to be true, especially as the cameras on our mobile phones become more and more sophisticated,” says Gunnarolla. 

He also advises against going out and buying the best equipment on the market until you or your child have studied the basics of filmmaking and video editing. “Slick production is helpful, but the key to success on these social media platforms is knowing who you are and getting people to like you. Take your audience’s feedback and don’t be afraid to experiment!”

If your tween or teen is keen on adding equipment, start with a good audio and lighting setup, as well as a tripod. As with anything, there’s a price range, so start with a budget until your kids’ beginner YouTube channel takes off.

Tripod, $40-$300+: “Invest in a way to keep your shots steady, like a tripod or Joby GorillaPod if you want something more versatile,” suggests Gunnarolla. 

Audio, $20-$300+ : As a musician with several viral hits, Gunnarolla stresses the need for quality sound production. “Good audio can elevate bad video—but not vice versa, so get a microphone. I use the Rode Wireless GO and I love it.” 

Lighting, $20-$300+: An inexpensive ring light can do the trick for indoor lighting if you’re speaking into the camera (with the added bonus of levelling up work Zoom calls for work-from-home adults when not in use). However, more complex shoots may require professional lighting kits. Many camera shops offer vlogger or YouTuber starter kits, so read reviews and shop around. 

Cameras, $50-$1300+: Gunnarolla also recommends checking for deals on used gear online or at your local camera store. “Assuming that you have one, most mobile phone cameras can shoot 1080p and 4K content and that’s high enough quality for social media,” he says. As your kids’ shoots get more advanced and their audience (and hopefully their revenue) grows, they can consider adding more sophisticated cameras with different lenses to up-level their visual product.

Editing software: New mobile editing apps, like InShot, make editing on the go very simple, even for novice users. “For pro-level editing software, I have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which comes with Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, Adobe Photoshop for photo editing, and Adobe Audition for sound editing,” explains Gunnarolla. “And finally, having access to a good music library can help your videos stand out (though there are a ton of royalty-free music libraries available out there).

Steps to set up a YouTube channel for a kid

It’s safe to say that as the parent or guardian of a child who wants to be on YouTube, you’re going to be very involved. Once you’ve had conversations around the kinds of content your child or family wants to create, the audiences you’re hoping to attract and the time and money you are willing to invest, you’re ready to get set up on the platform. Here are the steps:

1. Brainstorm a channel name

Consider privacy concerns and something that reflects the content you will be creating.

2. Set up a Google account for the channel or your child

If your child is under 13, they will need their adult guardian to set up the account. You can use Google’s Family Link for parental controls to manage and monitor your child’s screen time, app use and the kinds of content they can see from the app.

3. Create a YouTube channel

Head to YouTube.com or the YouTube app and sign in with your teen’s chosen Google account. Click on the profile icon at the top right and select, “Create a channel.” Add the channel name and an image (for privacy reasons, parents may want to encourage kids and teens to not use an image of their face) and they’re ready to go.

4. Adjust and review settings

Help your kid or teen review their content or channel description, find similar accounts to follow and set privacy settings. The goal is to give your child freedom to explore their creative expression while also monitoring to make sure safety concerns are addressed.

A young teen boy recording a YouTube video for how to play a guitar

Tips to be a successful kid YouTuber

With proper nurturing, effort and lots of creativity, your kid or teen’s YouTube channel could gain some traction, especially if they happen to create a video that goes viral. Here are some other YouTube success criteria for beginners:

1. Create a content calendar

How often will your teen post? Weekly? Daily? Some content creators have set days for making videos and scheduling them in advance. Try a few ways of managing your creation and posting time before deciding what ultimately works, and then commit to a schedule.

2. Be consistent

Posting is essentially sending out signals to the algorithms that may show your work, so your kids should be sure they’re consistently putting coal in the content furnace for best results. “Today, with so many channels for people to watch, you need to give your audience a reason to invest in yours,” explains Gunnarolla. “What kind of content do you want to make? And can your audience expect to see it on a regular basis?”

3. Set aside inspiration time

How will your teen come up with content ideas? What can they watch or do to get their creativity flowing? They’ll likely find inspiration from other creators in your space, but any experience might spark a video concept once they’ve decided what the channel’s topic or theme is. Keep a handy list as inspiration strikes.

4. Optimize for search

As YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, your child should make sure they are creating titles that make it easy to find you. Creating videos around popular search terms is also the most effective way for kids to make money on YouTube. Encourage tweens and teens to do some homework on search engine optimization (SEO) and make sure they’re hitting all the right radio buttons and tagging videos correctly in the back-end of YouTube.

5. Build a community

Dedicate some time daily to responding to comments or emails and evaluate the feedback on their channel, as well as participating in conversations on similar channels of interest. Chat with those who want to engage with your kids in a meaningful way and ignore the trolls. Always keeping superfans in mind will help them stay on brand. 

6. Authentically differentiate yourself

Reminds your kids that there’s no one in the world exactly like them. How can their voice stand out? What do they have to say that no one else will do in the way they do? How can your tween or teen educate, inform, or entertain their audience while staying true to who they are?

A teen girl recording a YouTube video on how to apply makeup

Online safety tips for kids on YouTube 

Adult or child, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the risks when deciding to go forward with a public presence. But for kids, there’s the added consideration of having their developing persona on the internet forever, before they’ve fully had the chance to know who they are and how the world might perceive them.

Still, with fame, fortune and a global community on the other end as possibilities, you may decide as a family that it’s worth a shot. 

Decide on comfort with privacy

How much of your family life are you willing to share? What parts are off-limits? Get clear on what the rules for sharing are. Some parents even create a document for a code of conduct that their child stars need to abide by in order to get posting privileges. 

Read more about what teens need to know about online privacy

Settle on screen time

As your child’s audience grows, they will likely need to spend more time on YouTube. Set some ground rules on what chores and duties need to be addressed around YouTube privileges, and determine how much is a reasonable limit when it comes to spending time on the video platform. Monitor how your child is balancing their health (such as exercise and sleeping habits) and responsibilities like homework against their time online.

Remember that everyone has an opinion

“It’s shocking what people will say when they can say it anonymously,” says Gunnarolla. A 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 59 per cent of U.S. teens had experienced some form of cyberbullying, with girls experiencing it more often than boys. With the billions of logged-in users on YouTube and other video platforms, it’s critical to recognize that your child YouTuber may be open to comments from all over the world. 

Prepare them by talking through possible negative interaction scenarios. Consider monitoring comments on behalf of your teen to protect them. Under pressure from child safety advocates, new legislation means YouTube now prohibits comments and other features for videos intended for kids 13 and under. However, you cannot control what others do outside your kids’ channel, and parents of older teens still need to beware. Be on guard for reaction videos or the creation of memes with your child’s image or video clips. 

Be an active participant in your child’s safety

If the responsibilities of being an active YouTuber gets to be overwhelming, remember that you can step in as the guardian and insist on a break. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and my parents still watch everything that I make,” says Gunnarolla. “So I’d recommend that parents take an active role in being aware of what their kids are posting online and taking steps to intervene if the feedback becomes detrimental to their mental health.” 

While becoming a content creator may leave your family more vulnerable to public attacks, it’s important to know that most YouTubers have a positive experience and enjoy creating a community around shared interests. “I’ve seen YouTube evolve a ton since it was launched,” recounts Gunnarolla. “It started out as a place where people who were under-represented in mainstream media could find a voice and a community.” Today, YouTube is a part of mainstream media, where big brands and even celebrities have their own channels. 

Though there are trade-offs, gaining YouTube celebrity status can change lives for the better financially. “It can open up a lot of doors for you if you want, and it opened up a lot of doors for me!” says Gunnarolla enthusiastically. “But at its core, it’s still one of the easiest ways to share video. So don’t get caught up in views, subscribers, money, and fame. What does being a creator mean to you? Find your voice, stick to a strategy, and broadcast yourself!”

How Mydoh can help kids and teens set up a YouTube channel

While starting a YouTube channel is free, ring lights and audio equipment aren’t (help kids plan these expenses by creating a budget). But Mydoh can help kids earn money through chores. They can also use their Mydoh Smart Cash Card to shop online or in-store and purchase the things they’ll need to become a YouTuber. 

Download the Mydoh app so your kids can start saving and earning money with our Smart Cash Card and Digital Wallet.

Chores for Kids to Earn Money

The new school year often feels like a new beginning. Time for a fresh start and to implement a new schedule and routines. As kids return to the classroom, parents should consider getting them involved in helping around the home with chores they’ll actually enjoy while also teaching them the value of earning their own money. The best place to start is with educating your kids on financial literacy and the importance of understanding how money works at an early age.

What is financial literacy and why is it important?

Financial literacy is a pretty big concept for the kids to grasp, but essentially it means teaching your kid about money and how to manage it responsibly. After all, it’s a skill that will help kids throughout their life. It can be as simple as introducing the concept of wants vs. needs, the value of saving for a long-term goal, and the pros or cons of paying with cash or debit versus a credit card. Encourage teenagers to save for their education and be transparent with your household budget, so they understand the real-world costs of living independently.

To learn more about financial literacy, check out our parents’ guide to financial literacy for teens and common financial literacy terms for kids.

How having responsibilities benefit kids (really!)

Research shows there are real benefits for kids as young as three-years-old who take on chores and tasks at home. These include higher self-esteem, better able to deal with frustration and delayed gratification. Helping out when they’re young leads to long-term success at school, work and relationships with others.

Encouraging kids to complete tasks at the same time each day (such as making their bed in the morning or clearing up after dinner) helps to create structure in their day and develop responsibility. Aside from becoming acquainted with how a washing machine works or that bathrooms don’t clean themselves, household tasks also provide kids with a sense of meaning in the family; that they’re part of a team.

Smiling teen girl crouched down patting white poodle wearing blue scarf

13 chores kids can do to earn money

Making chores sound fun might seem like a stretch. But you can add a little play to household work. Giving kids set chores throughout the day helps them to establish a daily routine. And breaking up chores into smaller tasks is less overwhelming for kids – as anyone who ever sat aside a full day for housework will know! While we’re not suggesting your child does every chore on the list, here are some tasks they can complete throughout the day.

Before school chores

1. Making the bed

Start the day off with making the bed. Even younger kids can do this by straightening pillows and pulling the covers up. Ask them to choose a special stuffed toy (or ten) that sits on top of their made bed every morning. Give older kids a say in choosing a cool duvet cover or sparkly pillow, so they’ll have a bed they want to lie in.

2. Getting ready for school on their own

Give kids the responsibility of getting themselves ready in the morning. Have them choose their clothes and dress themselves, brush their hair and teeth, as well as tidy up in the bathroom after themselves.

3. Putting clothes in the laundry

Task kids with putting their clothes in the laundry basket. There are plenty of fun laundry hampers on the market that makes putting dirty socks away more of a slam dunk!

Lunchtime chores

4. Making their own lunch

If your child is learning remotely, they can be responsible for making their own lunch. Filling a bento box with delicious snacks is one way to make it more fun. Encourage kids to be creative with making wraps, fruit kabobs, cut softer foods like cucumbers or bread into shapes with cute cookie cutters or make their own trail mix.

5. Checking the mailbox

One of the most common chores is to check the mail. Parents can also teach their children about what kinds of letters and packages typically come in the mail, which will help them know what to expect when checking for them each day.

6. Taking the dog for a walk

A parent can easily teach their child to take care of a dog as a chore. Teaching them how to take care of the dog will also teach them responsibility, which is important in the development of any child. It’s also an excellent opportunity for your child to be active and explore their surroundings.

After school chores

7. Helping with dinner

Enlist younger kids in helping with dinner by washing vegetables, mash the potatoes, or set the table. Provide them with their own apron and plastic utensils. Older kids can take on more responsibility for the evening meal. Task them with making the salad or a side dish, helping to chop vegetables, as well as to measure and mix ingredients. As their skills develop, let them plan and prepare dinner once a week.

Read more: Tips for saving money on family dinner.

8. Sweeping the floors

Equip younger children with their own kid-sized broom and pan and challenge them to sweep up around the dinner table or kitchen.

9. Tidying up before bed

Before bedtime, do a 10-minute tidy. Set a timer for ten minutes, put on some upbeat music and set about clearing away the day’s clutter.

Teen girl doing chore of mowing the lawn

Weekend chores

10. Making breakfast for the family

With more time on your hands, have older kids make breakfast for the family, like blueberry pancakes or French toast with fruit. Siblings can get involved by setting the table as if they’re at a restaurant. Have them serve the rest of the family and clear up afterwards.

11. Washing the car

What could be more fun than a big bucket of soapy water and a garden hose? Have your child help wash, rinse off and polish the car.

12. Mowing the lawn

Your kid might be too young to drive, but there’s another motor they can get behind—the lawnmower. If your child is old enough, give them responsibility for cutting the grass. Younger kids can help in the garden too by raking leaves (see how big a pile they can build) or watering plants with their own watering can.

13. Helping with paying bills

Give your teens a lesson in financial literacy and show them how to pay bills then give them the responsibility of paying household bills online.

Looking for more fun chores for kids? Read 7 winter chore ideas, top spring chores and the most popular summer chores.

Use the Mydoh app to track chores and allowances

One of the best ways kids can learn financial literacy is to put their knowledge into practice by earning their own money. Mydoh is a money management app for parents and kids as young as 8-years-old. Kids receive a digital Smart Cash Card, which you’ll have access to and can see their spending activities and encourage good choices.

The Mydoh app also lets you easily create tasks for your child, track if they’re overdue and know when they’ve been completed.

Here’s how the Mydoh allowance tracker works:

Choose a task to assign to your child

Overdue and completed tasks being show in the Mydoh app

Help your kids be more responsible and earn some cash by doing chores around the house. Select a task from the app or create your own.

Tip: Keep track of upcoming chores on your fridge with our free downloadable chore charts.

Set a weekly allowance

Choosing the amount of money for a kids weekly allowance in the Mydoh app

Create a weekly allowance for your kid’s everyday expenses. This allowance will be paid out every week on Saturday (Pay Day!).

Tip: If you need help figuring out how much allowance to give, use our kids allowance calculator.

Learn more about how to use Mydoh to track chores.

Success with money and in life starts at home

Many parents are looking for money making ideas for kids. Many times it’s the little things such as routine chores that can be the answer. And doing chores can help establish a routine and lead to long-term success.

Mydoh will continue to be here, helping teach kids about money and keeping them busy in those off-school hours. Sign up for Mydoh and begin teaching your kids about financial literacy today.

Download Mydoh today to learn more.