Family Finances – PediaCast 488

Show Notes


  • Renee Clouser visits the studio as we explore family finances. Money management touches all aspects of life, including physical and mental health. Learn strategies for creating a budget, establishing an emergency fund, paying off debt and saving for vacation and college. We hope you can join us!


  • Family Finances
  • Money Management
  • Creating a Budget
  • Paying Off Debt
  • Establishing an Emergency Fund
  • Saving for Vacation and College




Announcer 1: This is PediaCast.




Announcer 2: Welcome to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to PediaCast. It is a pediatric podcast for moms and dads. This is Dr. Mike coming to you from Nationwide Children's Hospital. We are in Columbus, Ohio.


It's Episode 488 for April 27th, 2021. We're calling this one "Family Finances". I want to welcome all of you to the program.


We have another terrific topic for you this week as we consider money management and family finances.




Now you may be asking yourself, "Isn't this a pediatric podcast? Why are we talking about money?" Well, the answer is simple. Money plays a role in nearly every aspect of our lives including health and wellness.


How we manage our money or fail to manage it impacts how we live, influences our relationships with others, and it can play a key role in our physical and mental health. You know, you're throwing the uncertainty of a COVID-19 pandemic or the stress of unemployment and less wages, disagreement among the adults in the house on issues of family finances. And all of the sudden, money management has a profound impact on the overall health and wellness of the family.


Have you ever felt like finances are controlling your family instead of your family controlling the finances? If so, you are not alone. But there is a way to take charge by sharpening our money management skills. It's a needed conversation among families because 60% of Americans say they do not track their spending. And 40% have never had a budget.




All right, so maybe you do have a budget but perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed with endless bills, credit card debt, sending your kids to college or planning for a wedding. Again, you're not alone. And the good news is, there is help.


Today, we will provide practical tips for creating and sticking to a family budget. We'll talk about tackling and preventing credit card debt, establishing an emergency fund , we'll look into saving up for big ticket items like houses and cars, and vacations, and college and weddings.


To help us explore all of these topics, we have a terrific guest joining us this week. Renee Clouser, she is a clinical medical social worker at Nationwide Children's with a passion and many years of experience and helping families tame their finances.


She'll be joining us shortly. Before we get to her, I want to once again share an exciting opportunity for the healthcare professionals in the crowd. Or really anyone in the healthcare industry.




Our Annual Communicating Medicine Conference at Nationwide Children's Hospital is on the horizon. And this year it will be very easy for you to join us because we are offering a virtual event from the comfort of your home.


If you have an interest in providing evidence-based health related education online, then this is the event for you. We have a terrific line -up of speakers covering lots of digital communication topics including the role of social media in promoting diversity and inclusion, strategies for overcoming vaccine hesitancy among patients and families, and overcoming cancel culture and online harassment.


We'll also have breakout workshop on how to become an interview star, crafting an effective medical blog and maintaining professionalism and compliance while engaging online.


We also have some special presentation including Podcasting 101, 15 Social Media Perils and 15 minutes in Addressing Misinformation During the COVID-19 pandemic.




So if you are a healthcare professional who would like to take an active role in educating the public online, then this the virtual event for you.


Communicating Medicine: Practicing Evidence-Based Medicine in an Online World takes place on Friday, May 14th 2021 on a computer screen near you.


Registration is affordable and very easy to do. The cost is just $25 for most attendees. If you're affiliated with Nationwide Children's Hospital or the Ohio State University, it's $20. And if you are a student, we provide a bigger discount of $15. I can guarantee, you will not find this breadth and depth of content presented by incredibly gifted and experienced speakers at such a low cost anywhere on the face of the planet.


Registration is limited. However, we do still have a few openings left. And you'll find links in the show notes to the conference registration page and an online brochure, which outlines the complete rundown of topics and speakers. I'll be there and I hope to see many of you.




All right, let's move on with our usual quick reminders. Don't forget you can find PediaCast wherever podcasts are found. Please remember to subscribe to the shows so you don't miss an episode.


Also, consider leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts. So that others who come along looking for evidence-based child health and parenting information will know what to expect.


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And we do have that handy contact page over the website,, and you can use that to get in touch. And if you have a comment for the show, you want to suggest the topic for a future episode, we love hearing from you.


Also, I want to remind you the information presented in every episode of PediaCast is for general educational purposes only. We do not diagnose medical conditions or formulate treatment plans for specific individuals. If you have a concern about your child's health, be sure to call your healthcare provider.


Also, your use of this audio program is subject to the PediaCast Terms of Use Agreement which you can find at




So let's take a quick break. We'll get our guest, Renee Clouser, connected to the studio. And then, we will be back to talk about Family Finances. It's coming up right after this.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Renee Clouser is a clinical medical social worker at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She has a passion for helping families manage money and improving quality of life by equipping moms and dads with the skills and resources needed to tame their family's finances.


That's what she's here to talk about, money management and family finances. So let's give a warm PediaCast welcome to Renee Clouser. Thank you so much for stopping by today.




Renee Clouser: You're welcome. I'm happy to be here.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah. Really, really appreciate your time and efforts. So let's just begin with explaining why this is even an important topic. Why is money management an essential skill for parents?


Renee Clouser: Well, it's an essential skill because whether we all like to admit it or not, most of our life revolves around money. The money you have, the money you don't, and the money you need.


And it can impact your financial circumstances, which can spill over into other areas of your life like your emotional stability, your stress level, your confidence level. It can affect your choices in life. The choices you have, the decisions you make, the relationships you develop. The family you create and opportunities available to you.


And so basically how you spend your money today determines how much money you will have tomorrow. Next month, next year and so on. 




And so, basically, until you take control of your money, it may be hard to feel you have control in your life.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. It's also a point of education because how our kids are going to use money and manage their finances when they become adult, they're kind of learning from us right now. And so, not only does it impact our family here and now, but it also impacts our children's future families, right?


Renee Clouser: Yes, it does. Yes, it does. What you decide today can absolutely have generational impacts.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Now, when we think about family finances, I think one of the first things that comes to mind is a budget. So why is it so important for a family to have a budget?


Renee Clouser: Well, I think one thing to clarify is, is that a budget is a tool. It is a tool. And it can be meaningless in your life if you don't look at it, examine it, see if it's working for you. It can help you create accountability in your daily life.




And like many of us can fall victim, too. Especially in this digital age where maybe we don't carry cash, everything is electronic. And it's easier to just mindlessly spend your money. But when you are regularly looking at your budget and examining how your expenses and your income fit into your budget, you're more likely to tell your money where to go rather than your money telling you how you're going to live your life.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. I mention this in the intro. And I think the numbers are worth repeating. And that is at some recent survey showed that 60% of American adults say they do not track their spending. And 40% of Americans say that they have never had a budget.




And so, this is really, that kind of surprise me a little bit. But that's a lot of families out there who aren't using budgeting tools to help manage their finances. And so, if you don't have a budget, please consider starting one. And that's where we're going to head next with this conversation. How do you go about creating and sticking to a budget?


Renee Clouser: Well, one of the things to I guess be aware of that your budget should have categories. And there are recommendations as to how much, for example, housing should take up your budget. There are recommendations for utilities, food, transportation, debt, which many people have, clothing, medical expenses.


So I guess it's important to know that there are categories and you can make categories work for you. But in terms of like how do we do that, well, you have to have some sort of idea of like what does money mean to you, what are your goals. You need to be able to ask yourself like, "What are my goals here? Where do I want to be this month? Where am I want to be in a year?"




If you don't have that compass, it's going to be hard to start. And I said a good rule of thumb is take three months of your past expenses and income. And if you are one wo like many of us do, maybe we use our credit cards for our daily expenses because we get points and stuff.


So if you're that person, you can easily look through your expenses and see where those expenses fall to help you figure out, "Here's what I have been doing," compared to "Here's what I should be doing. What are some changes I can make.”? And just become really solid and focused on why are you wanting to make a change because if you have a good reason for that, you might be more agreeable to stick to it.




But there are all kinds of tools out there to help you with that. There are free apps, there's online software. A simple Google search could help anyone find some of those tools that they would need to even start.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And really, in the very beginning, it may be just getting paper and pencil and charting out what have I've been spending, what should these categories and the amounts look like? And then, once you start to figure out what your budget is going to look like moving forward, then you can translate that into a fun program. Which you mentioned, I mean, because technology I think can certainly enhance our lives.


And this is one area whether are a lot of options out there. And I'm going to mention some of these by name, the once that I might have had experience with. And we'll put links in the show notes so folks can find. I think the one that we use in our family right now, and I'm not getting any kickback, this is just I'm being transparent. This is what we use, is YNAB, which is stands for You Need A Budget.


Renee Clouser: Yep. I've heard of that.




Dr. Mike Patrick: I love it. And I'm sure other programs will do this, too. But there's an app which actually uses GPS. And so, if  get gas, it auto-populates that, "Hey, I'm at the gas station," and I can put in how much. And it will automatically add that into my budget, that we use that much money for gas at this point in time. And it helps just to keep everything updated. and it makes reconciling accounts a little bit easier because you're tracking your spending really on the fly.


And then, there are other ones, Goodbudget and Mvelopes are both envelopes-based budgeting. You've come across that terms before, right?


Renee Clouser: Yes, yes, yes.


Dr. Mike Patrick: What does that mean? What is envelope-based budgeting? You don't really use envelopes, right?


Renee Clouser: Well, some people did, believe it or not. Several years ago, that is where I started. I've really wanted to have control. And I wanted to have a very good grasp on what am I, like this is the amount of money I said I was going to spend on groceries this month.




So basically, the envelope system, whether you get real legitimate envelopes and you label the subjects, clothing, food, and the amount of money, you could physically track it. But then yes, there are also online envelopes that you can create electronically.


Because we are all wired differently. Some of us are going to be better with the whole pen and paper and, "I got to touch it." And some of us, we have an inclination to be the, "Set it and forget it," or "Make it as easy as it can possibly be for me," to where it just tracks my movement or it categorizes my expenses and income automatically. And I just review it. And if I see, "Oh no, that's not quite right," I can just change it instead of me having to just total everything.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, exactly. And it certainly saves you time down the road. Now, there is kind of two schools of thought here, so to speak. And as we're doing budgeting and that is being sort of reactive and taking it out as it happens.


But then, you sort of want to get to the point where maybe you are saving up for the next month. And so there really is physically money that you're using rather than saying, "Well, I'll pay myself back for those categories when I get the money." And I suspected that can become a bone of contention moving forward and making budgeting a success, right?


Renee Clouser: Sure, sure. Yeah, if somebody has been, if they just never started budgeting at all. And let's just say they're not one who even regularly maybe even opens up their bank account to really even look, "Where am I at today?"




You might have a little bit more of a challenge than the next person. But you got to start there. You got to know where your money is going. And so, I would say that somebody needs to open up that bank account. See the flow of money.


See "Okay, this is what I am already doing. Is there any money left after what I'm already spending it on? Or am I in the red because I have been using my credit card, and oh, man, I'm flattening balances every month here."


So you have to get a handle on where your money is going first. And I know some people, if they realized, "I've been operating in the red here. I have to change my ways." There are a few things that you can do about that.


Almost everybody has things laying around their house. That there's Craigslist, selling groups that are online. Or there's even like local places, consignment shops. You can take what's already in your home that you don't use or might have extras off because you couldn't find that the first time you went to go look for it.




See, you can resell some things. So just get some money in there to plug in as a reserve if you will. And we're definitely in a side gig economy right now. Maybe people have side jobs, extra jobs.


Some of them do it to save money. Some of them are doing it simply so that they do have enough money to cover their current expenses. Those are some of the things that people can do.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, really important points. As I mentioned, we'll put links to the budget tools that I'd already mentioned. Some other ones, PocketGuard, Honeydue for couples, Quicken, and then Simplifi by Quicken and now Mint. Intuit, I think purchased them.


And so there's lots of different ones and we'll put links to all of those in the show notes, so folks can find them easily. But read reviews, choose a reputable program because they are going to have your budgeting and perhaps your banking information. So you want to use something that's mainstream and out there.




In terms of realism, in budgeting, I really love that you pointed out that a lot of folks, when you get to the point that maybe you haven't been budgeting for a long time, and what sort of pushes you into doing it is the fact that you are getting deeper and deeper into the red and into credit card debt.


As we are starting to be able to pay off debt, I mean, really you just have to shrink those categories, right? And then one of the categories is for debt reduction. And as you're thinking about the different debts that you have, it's going to be important to prioritize those, right? And maybe the highest interest ones, pay off first?


Renee Clouser: That's one school of thought. I think some people refer to that as the debt avalanche method. There are certain terms that you can find out there. One strategy is to take the highest interest items that you have first and work on that because mathematically, yes, that will save you the most money.




But if budgeting were simply about math, people wouldn't struggle. There's a behavioral component to that.


And so, some would argue that debt snowball method might be your best bet because what it does is it doesn't pay attention to the interest rates. It takes just your balance. So you would organize it from smallest to largest and then you would work on paying off that smallest one because that can help you see results quicker, which can help service a motivator to help you keep working on reducing your debt.


But at the end of the day, it's about what is going to work for each individual person in their situation. But those are definitely two of the more common ways to approach it.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. One thing that I think we can get, once you get started into budgeting and you start to have success, it's easier to tighten down on maybe personal spending that would seem like it was going to be difficult at first. But then as you're having success and you're tightening down, you are paying off debt. But you mentioned there's a behavioral component, a mental health component.


Talk to the importance of still doing things for yourself and maybe not tightening down, like overtightening. Does that make sense?


Renee Clouser: Sure. Absolutely. I think it's important for everyone to kind of examine themselves and examine what helps reduce their stress level. And for some people, that doesn't even come with a cost. For some people, things that reduce their stress level in general, it might be exercise, it might be listening to music. It might be chatting on the phone with a friend. It could be reading a book.


All of those things I mentioned happen to not really come with the cost if you don't want it to. You can go to the store and buy a book, but you can also go to the library and rent the book.




So I would say though if you are somebody with a, I don't know, an extremely high stress level, then help identify what helps reduce your stress levels. See which ones of those maybe are free to you. And if there's something that comes with the cost, prioritize. Really figure out what's a non-negotiable, like "I have to have this."


Some people, they just need massages. I'm not one of those, but that doesn't mean anything. But some people, and it could be due to past life circumstances or current life circumstances. And that may be the one thing that they do.


Some people it's "I just like to paint my fingernails. I just like to keep them painted. It helps me feel better." That's a very low-cost thing to do. But yeah, you do have to take care of yourself while you're trying to do that. And sometimes, it's just setting boundaries that just making sure you get enough sleep, eat, good nutrition. Simple things.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. What about an emergency fund? We hear about that. What is an emergency fund and how do you know how much money to put in an emergency fund?


Renee Clouser: Yeah, so there are some schools of thought to that as well. An emergency fund is definitely for an emergency, which would be things like paying unexpected medical bills, paying a deductible in the event of car accidents, damage to your home, an unexpected auto repair that you might need to make.


But what can you do, how much do you need? Some would say the recommendation is to have three to six months' worth of expenses, not your income, three to six months' worth of your income saved up. And I would say depending on what your income is and depending on what your expenses are, probably impacts where you're going to aim to go, where you're going to start.




I know there is a school of thought out there that if you're actively trying to work on debt but you also don't want an unexpected emergency expense to wreck your progress, there's a school of thought out there that says, "Okay, just put $1,000 away as soon as you can." Do what you got to do to get that money there because there are some studies out there that show the average family might not even be prepared to meet an unexpected $300, $500 expense.


So if you have $1,000 saved up, that might very well help some of your more common unexpected expenses that you just did not plan for. But that is to be distinct from, for example, let's just say, you have high school-aged children, that comes with activity sometimes, prom.




So prom approaching and if you have a child that wants to go, that requires expenses for money and entertainment. That's not an emergency, that is something you can plan for, by trying to set aside enough money in your budget in a short-term savings account, that you can use if necessary.


So a lot of people have quite significant credit card debt. And sometimes, it can feel really overwhelming to try to plan moving forward when you have all of these debt sort of piled on your shoulders. What are the best ways to tackle and then prevent lots of credit card debt?


Renee Clouser: Okay, so preventing credit card debt definitely requires creating a budget. It's your tool. It doesn't matter if you call it a budget, a personal spending plan. You call it whatever works for you, whatever motivates you.




And one of the things that you could also do, I talked about earlier, it helps to know your why. One thing that you can do is kind of develop, create for yourself a mantra if you will. Something like a short sentence that you can tell yourself every day.


Print it out if you need to. Put it in the calendar if you're one who uses the calendar. Tape it to your computer if you use the computer every day, bathroom mirror, whatever works for you.


And I'll just share, I happen to have one because I'm not where I want to be at, so I use it. And one of mine is "Making good financial decisions now means peace and security later." That works for me. People can use what works for them. But I feel that's good.


Know your why. Have a budget. Once you have a budget in mind, you allocate in your budget this is the amount of money that I can put toward repaying credit card debt that I owe. And what's the best thing that you can do. Stop using your credit card. If you're actively trying to get out of debt, stop using it.




If you're one that has justified use of it because "Oh, I get all these points and that's going to help me," it might help you here and there. But if you have the debt, how much is it really helping you if you're counterbalancing that with interest finances.


So I would say stop using it. Stop using it. That's going to help you for sure. If you are not one who has like a space where you live to even work on that, create a space. If you have an office, use it.


If you don't have an office, that's fine. How about some little area? It can be a TV tray, a TV stand and a little area that you can fold away, put away. Create the space and that's going to help you for sure.




Stop using it. Create a realistic plan that fits within your income and what your expenses are. And again, we kind of talk about the different strategies that you can apply, either the debt avalanche, which is high interest rate first or the debt snowball, lowest balance first.


And there are even calculators out there that can help you figure out what's going to be best for you. Find those. Bankrate is a wonderful website that has all kinds of calculators on it, ones to help you tackle credit card debt and to help you save. So there's definitely some of the things that you can do.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, as we think about use of credit cards, you can kind of approach it like you would medical treatments. We always think about risks versus benefit. And so there's little perks that you get for putting things on your credit card if you aren't paying off the balances like you should be or the balance is too far in the red. And now, you're having to pay lots of interests on that balance. Then that would be risk. And does the benefit of those perks really outweigh the risk of more and more debt, if you're not able to pay those things off on time.




Renee Clouser: Right.


Dr. Mike Patrick: It's just so convenient to put things, especially recurring charges so that you don't get late fees and all that. But you can also have it just taken right out of your bank account. A lot of places offer that as well. Or go back to the good old-fashioned way and send in your check, right?




Renee Clouser: I do know some people who still do that.


Dr. Mike Patrick: You know, there is something about holding it in your hand and keeping track of it and all that. And I love what you said too about having that space where you do your budget. And it does make it easier to think about, "Oh, I haven't been in that space in X number of days. And I need to be there and do it and stay focused on keeping track of the budget. "


Renee Clouser: Absolutely. Because if you're someone who does get paper statements, if you just have them scattered about the house in their envelopes and various pouch, that's going to be a problem.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. Student loan debt has really ballooned for a lot of people in the last decade or so. What are some strategies for families in reducing or even avoiding student loan debt?


Renee Clouser: Wow. There are a lot. And I would say it starts with thinking about as early as middle school. You don't want to put too much pressure on kids. But just have general conversations about like various careers. If you can set that stage early in the academic career, if you will, then when you have a child that gets to high school, they're more likely to become maybe a little bit more focused. Or try interacting with people who might do the things for career that they think they might be interested in.




Renee Clouser: Bottom line is it's never too early to begin exploring what your options are in term of what you want to do. It's never too early to explore where can I, if this is what I want to do, for example, if I want to be a radiologist, where can I go to get that training?


So it starts with exploration first. But while in high school, many high schools offer dual enrolment programs where you can get high school credit and college credit. They have advanced placement classes that can help you get some of that college credit before you ever get there.


There is community college. Oftentimes, that is cheaper than going to a traditional four-year college. There are career colleges. Some students can go to a career and technical school while they go to high school. And before they even graduate from high school, they can walk out with some sort of certification. If they want to help work their way through college, they can do that, too.




There are all kinds of scholarship out there. The FAFSA is something that all parents would want to try to complete to see if you're eligible for aid that you don't have to pay back.


There are work study programs where you can go to school and work on the campus. And that can help with the cost of it. 529 programs are saving tools that families can contribute to.


And I would say we don't ever know how long it's going to be around but many states have a program where if you're earning a certain GPA, the state will give you a certain amount of money to help towards your college expenses.


There's a book out there called Debt Free Degree. That is just one example of a book that people who are raising children that they anticipate going to college, that they can get some really good ideas on what you can do to really be focused on setting yourself up for getting a college education for the least amount of money coming out of your pocket.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. And then some states too, you can sort of prepay to get credits in order to use at state schools. But that's going to vary, of course, from one state to another, so definitely check to see what's available in your neighborhood.


You had mentioned things like prom, and then as kids get older, weddings. It's big expenses that aren't necessarily recurrent ones. How do you go about saving for something that is kind of far off into the future? Do you plug that in as a monthly thing you're stashing away?


Renee Clouser: You can. There are online. I call them online piggy banks if you will, where you can tell your money, "I want this amount of money to go into this little mini account, this amount of money to go in this mini account."




And you can have that kind of control over what you're trying to save for. And then, when the time comes, you take that money and you transfer it to your checking account. Then you can pay for it.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, it makes it a little harder to dip in to when if you got it set somewhere that it's going to take a few days maybe to get it in your checking account. It kind of protects a little more and you can see that start to build. But that's really something that you put in to your monthly budget, right?


Renee Clouser: Yes, absolutely.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Where you try to think about the whole year ahead and what bigger expenses that you're going to have. And save month by month, so by the time you get to that month, you have it saved up. And then, it's not something that you have to put on the credit card. Or maybe you do to get your points, but you have the money to pay it off right away.


Renee Clouser: Right, absolutely, yeah. Many people have annual expenses. And whether that's annual expenses, I mean, that just comes down to as simple as like if you own a car, well, you have vehicle registration every year. If you own a home, you might live in a house that has a homeowner's association and that has a fee every year.




There are all kinds of things that might have yearly expenses. And you can have an annual expenses fund if you want. And that can help with those  "Oh, man, I forgot that this $500 is due right now." Something like that.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And when you envision that envelope system, even for things like "Okay, we're going to buy our first house. We're saving up so that we'll have a good down payment for the house." Maybe you do want a big down payment for a car so that your monthly payments are not going to be as high. Or maybe a vacation that you maybe want to take. You maybe want to go on a cruise, you know, once we're cruising again after the pandemic.


But just thinking ahead to big things and then having whether it's a virtual account, you have one big bank account. And in your budget program, you have these little accounts or imaginary or separate bank accounts for all of these things. So it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, right?




Renee Clouser: Absolutely. But you had also, kind of jumping back to the whole student load thing. We talked about how you can position yourself in the best manner possible at the beginning. But what if you missed that boat and you didn't and then you have some student loans. It's very important to see what your options are in terms of trying to repay because they are complex. They are complex.


There are repayment programs. There are also some employers who as a term of employment come with student loan repayment. That is something to consider. I would say use caution if you fall under that category and you get offered this job and they're going to offer to pay 10,000 toward your student loans.




But oftentimes, an offer like that is going to come with "We're going to hire newbie. You definitely have to agree to work for us for X number of months, years," what have you. So definitely, be careful, if you go with an option like that because the last thing that you want is to have them have upfronted some money from you but you're really unhappy with where you are.


And then, you end up owing that employer money if you leave. So that's  something to be careful about, but it's wonderful if that does work for you. But there are income-based programs but we won't talk about that too much because I think that's a point of contention and in the spotlight right now.


There is a pay as you earn. There is  standard repayment program that gets you with ten years. There's the extended repayment program. There is the public student loan forgiveness. If you work at a place of employment, you'll have a certain amount of time that you pay on it and then the balance is forgiven.




But I would even say you have to be thoughtful. And you have to consult with the right entities because the kind of loan that you took out might impact what kind of repayment program that you can go into. So I would say, just have the knowledge, know what kind of loan you have. Don't make decisions without having your questions fully answered.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, always important. When should we start teaching kids about managing money? At what age do we start talking about money and maybe giving them an opportunity to manage a little bit of money?


Renee Clouser: That's a very good and interesting question. I'm sure we all can remember having a piggy bank of some sort as a child. And I was reading something very recently on how as cute as piggy banks are, many of them, they're decorative, right? And they're solid and you can't see through them.






Renee Clouser: So I would say, just as soon as you are someone who starts saving money, saving coins for your child to see, try to see if you could put it in a clear jar so that A, you're teaching, "This is a penny. This is a nickel. This is dime. This is a quarter."


And they can see it build up. It can be as simple and as young as that. But there are, for example, as young as age seven, kids can start understanding what saving your money means.


And once they're eight, they can begin to start understanding delayed gratification like, "I want something. I can't get it now. But if I save my birthday money that might be coming in a month, or if I save the five dollars that my grandfather gave me, in three months, I can get this thing that I want."


There is also tip books or tools that's out there. And it's for kids like 8 to 12 and it's called The Money Guide for Kids. An easy Google search would land you to that.




There's something called JumpStart and it's How to Raise a Money Smart Child. And there are active money games for kids on JumpStart.


And as they get older, kind of a lot of us have a debit card or credit because, I mean, reality is we do live in an electronic society. So I think it's unrealistic to think that you can teach a child about any kind of money management without the use of plastic in some way, shape or form.


There's a card called the Greenlight Card where parents can help control, "Here's the money that's going on here." And you can thumb up or thumbs down something that they want to spend that money on.


Dr. Mike Patrick: As we think about really young kids, we also talk about behavioral modification programs in really trying to positively encourage our kids to behave in ways that we want them to behave. And on this program, one of the ways that we've talked about that in the past is to have a reward token system.




So as they do the things you want them to do, for example, maybe a two-year-old who likes to get out of bed multiple times in the night. And so, you have a reward system where okay, you're allowed to get up to get a drink of water or ask a question or whatever two times. But on that third time, then three strikes, you're out and you don't get a token.


And then, those tokens can be saved for extra TV time or to play a video game, or whatever it is that motivate your child that they might want to spend a token on.


And so, really, even at that early age with reward tokens or with sticker charts and these sorts of things, you're teaching them about currency, even if it's not physical money, right?


Renee Clouser: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. That is an important thing that you can do. But I always like the caveat, reward systems like that for children with the knowledge and the recognition that those are great for neurotypical children.




But in the event you are parenting someone who is not neurotypical, maybe they have ADHD, maybe they have an intellectual disability, a cognitive delay. Maybe they have autism. You may have a different approach for children who might have some special developmental needs and are always like to recognize that and appreciate that. And just acknowledge that you might want to try different approach.


There's still approaches for children with some special needs. But that's why we have some lovely intervention specialists that work in our community and across the United States. So involve them.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. And whenever we run into issues at home, it is never a problem to reach out and ask for help. And there's always a friendly social workers and psychologists and counselors who can certainly help, especially when you're running into things aren't going as planned in terms of child behavior and reward systems and these things.


Renee Clouser: Yes, yeah. Because I do recognize and maybe it's my professional role, sprinkled in with a little personal experience that money management is important for all people and not just neurotypical individuals.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, absolutely. What are some of the ways that let's say you have a child with ADHD or with autism, and you are running into some difficulties, what are some strategies for helping those kids understand money management?


Renee Clouser: Well, they're definitely going to be more inclined for tangibles rewards at more frequent intervals. Trying to reward a daily behavior at the end of the day is likely to not serve you very well. They're going to need some more short-term rewards. So I would say, for children who might have ADHD, maybe there's a daily goal. And maybe when you see success with daily goals, build up to a weekly goal, if that makes sense.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. And really, speaking in terms that they can understand and maybe even seeking out when they are doing good behavior. It might not even have been what your goal was, but so that they can start to associate the behaviors that you want. When they stumble upon the behaviors that you want, really pointing those out and rewarding them.


Renee Clouser: Absolutely.


Dr. Mike Patrick: We've gotten off-track from money, but all still very important things. As we think about teenagers who are sooner to be transitioning to adulthood than the younger kids, what are some ways that we can start to equip teenagers from managing money as they become adults?


Renee Clouser: Jobs. As soon as they can have a work experience that earns them money, they can have a checking account, they can have a savings account. And it doesn't have to be a lot of money. But those are things that you can do for your older teenagers, whether you want that to be a joint account where you are helping to manage that. But it's very much going to be a teaching tool.




And if you are someone who it works for your students to reward for grades, again, that fits just perfectly with having a checking account. If you are not ready for them to have those tools at their disposal yet, especially if they do have a job, you can say, "Well, hey, you're 16, these are kind of the expenses that come along with you being a teenager in the house. And maybe you can contribute X amount of money toward the things that you want to do that bring you fun, but maybe are not necessary."


They can just help contribute to their cost of life if you will. Those are some of the things that they can do.




Dr. Mike Patrick: So really, they can have a budget.


Renee Clouser: Yep.




Dr. Mike Patrick: That's what we're doing here. And maybe start to learn whatever budgeting strategies that you're using as the parents in the house. Kind of mini version. And then maybe you do your budget together at the same time. Hey, let's do our budget and get into the habit of doing it on a regular basis. So as we move from pennies in a jar, we're really moving to bank accounts. And there are certainly bank accounts that students can get, probably right where you bank.


Renee Clouser: Absolutely.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And these important experiences because how we learn to manage money in our childhood and in our teenage years really does impact, and really, as young adults, as we become older adults, how we have managed money in the past impacts our present behavior.




And so, how then from a behavior standpoint, if when we need to make changes, how do we go about making those changes to do something more positive?


Renee Clouser: Definitely have to be aware that a change is needed for sure. And surround yourself with I would say like-minded individuals who are going to help keep you accountable. And you have to look at your expenses. You have to look at your income and you have to look at what you're doing every day to help get you to where your goals are. Absolutely.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, and it is true that our past experiences really do impact our present behavior, right?


Renee Clouser: Absolutely. I was kind of reviewing an exercise on past money experiences. And part of the questions were "What's your earliest money memory?" And it's like, I've never contemplated that before. And so I started thinking about that and sure enough, I could recall some early money memories.




And I would say that for many people, I bet it is, it could very well be associated to may not necessarily be like the item that was bought for them. But maybe the feeling that they had when something was purchased for them.


Or sometimes, on the negative side, it can be memories of people arguing about money, how to spend it or not having enough of it. But some people might have memories of always talking about their appearance, wanting to save for this or save for that, plan for this or plan for that.


There are all kinds of memories that you can have. But identify them. Kind of think about what they were and think about if that's kind of what you want for yourself, what you want to be able to have your children think back and reflect on. You could think about who in your life might be like your role models from a financial perspective, someone that you think might be a good manager of money?




And try to figure out what are they doing, what's working for them. Information is power. Knowledge is power. It's always good to surround yourself with people who want success for you, just as you want it for yourself.


Dr. Mike Patrick: You mentioned conflicts. Maybe you were around parents who are arguing about money. What advice do you have for parents who may be in conflict related to money? How can you come together on that?


Renee Clouser: So I would say, absolutely, it does require both parties talking about money, having conversations, being honest about what their goals are, what non-negotiables might be for them. And you can't just do it one time. Each couple will figure what works best for them, whether that's "All right, every Sunday evening, we're going do a check-in. And we're going to see how things went this week." Or you can do that every other week, once a month. But you do have to meet regularly.




Or you will have all kinds of things can happen from that. We all have different spending tendencies. We all different goals. And if we are not talking about it, then there's room for behaviors to happen as it comes to spending or saving that the other party doesn't agree with. And if you're not talking about it, then you can come to an agreement and resentment could very well build up.


And if couples get to a point where that stress is causing a lot of conflict daily and it's kind of overwhelming, believe it or not, there are financial therapists out there. That could be one option, but there are also counselors out there. There are financial coaches out there. There are certified financial counselors, planners.




There are professionals that you can involve. But I would say, there's a lot that you can do under your own roof to eliminate maybe the need to get there. But if you do find yourself in just conflict over and over and over again, it might be time to involve someone else, to help be an objective third party.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And do that sooner rather than later, because those resentments can certainly build up. And once there's issues with communicating, they tend to spiral.


Renee Clouser: They do. They do.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And so being open and honest and talking and compromising with each other and creating and sticking to a budget together, sitting down and doing that together. So you both see what the financial situation looks like and sort of where you're heading as a family, all really important things.


I'm going to put quite a few links in the show notes. We've mentioned those budgeting programs. You had also mentioned Debt Free Degree, the Money Guide for Kids, and JumpStart. And we'll put links to all of those things in the show notes.




I also found a really great guide as I was prepping and researching for the show from US News and World Report called How to Create and Maintain a Family Budget. And it was really well-written and easy to sort of step through. So I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well.


And then also, there's a site called The Balance which is really a colossal personal finance site. And the interesting thing with that is they're independent authors but everything is vetted and fact-checked before it goes in there. And they have tons of articles and tutorials on budgeting, banking, investing, taxes, loans. And one of their articles is Quick Tips to Set Up a Family Budget. And I'll put a link in the show notes for that as well.


So lots of resources for families in the show notes over at for Episode 488. Before we have you go, tell us about the Social Work Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital. You guys are like infused throughout the entire institution, right? You guys play an important work.




Renee Clouser: There are over 130 of us. However, we are not everywhere we wish. There are still areas we're not embedded yet. But we're always a work in progress.


We are part of the psychosocial support available to families in the hospital. Every single patient here, whether a social worker is embedded into the clinic that they might go to or to the floor that they're on, they're still a social worker available at the hospital to help support families. Whether they're adjusting to new diagnosis, crisis. Whether it's a medical crisis or a crisis outside of the medical setting that is impacting their daily life.


We help service and advocate if needed or a liaison to the medical team. We try to help address, just to put it in plain simple language, the things that are getting in the way of helping parents take the care that they want to, is recommended to of their children. Whether that's emotional difficulties, whether that is financial stresses, we are here to meet the need and meet families where they are and help figure out what they need from us so that we can best support them.




Dr. Mike Patrick: And we'll put a link to Social Work at Nationwide Children's Hospital as well, so folks can find out about what you do. I love the mission of just helping people get the help they need when they need it from the best resources available. That was the little blurb on the website and it is just so true.


And I know in my work through the Emergency Department and our urgent care centers at Nationwide Children's, really, really just appreciate the work that's done by Social Work on a daily basis. Really just makes such a difference in the lives of kids and families. So I just want to personally thank you for the work that you do for kids and families.


Renee Clouser: Hey, what's that saying, it takes a village to raise children. It's true.




Dr. Mike Patrick: So Renee Clouser, a clinical medical social worker at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Thanks once again for stopping by  today.


Renee Clouser: Thank you.




Dr. Mike Patrick: We are back with just enough time to say thanks once again to all of you for taking time out of your day and making PediaCast a part of it. Really do appreciate that.


Also, thanks to our guest, Renee Clouser, clinical medical social worker at Nationwide Children's Hospital.


For the medical professionals in the crowd or really anyone in the healthcare industry, don't forget about our upcoming conference, Communicating Medicine: Practicing Evidence-based Medicine in an Online World. It's happening Friday, May 14th, 2021 on a computer screen near you because it is a virtual conference.




We're going to be covering the role of social media in promoting diversity and inclusion, strategies for overcoming vaccine hesitancy among patients and families, overcoming cancel culture and online harassment, how to become an interview star, crafting an effective medical blog, maintaining professionalism and compliance while engaging online, Podcasting 101, 15 social media perils in 15 minutes, and addressing misinformation during  the COVID-19 pandemic.


Registration is affordable but it is also limited. However, we do have some open space left, $25 for most attendees. If you're affiliated with Nationwide Children's Hospital or the Ohio State University, it's $20. And if you're a student, only 15.


The conference brochure and the registration page are available for you in the show notes for this episode, 488 over at I'll be there and I hope you can be there, too.




Don't forget you can find PediaCast wherever podcasts are found. We are in the Apple and Google podcast apps, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, Amazon Music and most other podcast apps for iOS and Android.


Our landing site is You'll find our entire archive of past programs there, along with our show notes, Terms of Use Agreement, and that handy Contact page if you would like to suggest a topic for a future episode of the program.


Reviews are also helpful wherever you get your podcast. We always appreciate when you share your thoughts about the show. And we love connecting with you on social media. You'll find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Simply search for PediaCast.


Also, don't forget about our sibling program, PediaCast CME. That stands for Continuing Medical education. It's similar to this program. We do turn the science up a couple notches and offer free Continuing Medical Education Credit for those who listen.


And that includes by the way, not only physicians but also nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacist, psychologist, social workers, even dentists. And since Nationwide Children's is jointly accredited by many professional organizations, it's likely we offer the exact credits you need to fulfill your state's Continuing Medical Education requirements.




Shows and details are available at the landing site for that program, You can also listen wherever podcasts are found. Simply search for PediaCast CME.


Thanks again for stopping by. And until next time, this is Dr. Mike saying stay safe, stay healthy and stay involved with your kids. So, long, everybody.




Announcer 2: This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on PediaCast.

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