To musician Gooding, rock n’ roll is a way to teach kids about finances.
On Monday afternoon at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall — through electric guitars, booming drums and a thumping beat — Gooding and his band got about 1,200 Miami-Dade County middle- and high-school students excited to learn about credit cards, credit scores and investments.
“The music makes the medicine go down easier,” Gooding said.
This is the second year the Kansas and California-based band Gooding has traveled to Florida to perform at several South Florida schools. The band, which works with the nonprofit Funding the Future, is sponsored by Laura Steckler of Steckler Wealth Management Group of Raymond James and Associates. There’s even a website for students to learn about personal finance.
Steckler, a certified financial planner and senior vice president, said it’s easy for kids to fall into financial traps such as payday lenders and high interest rates because they are not taught either by their parents or in school.
“Sadly financial literacy has not been a focus and it needs to be,” she said.
Through a $25,000 grant given by Steckler, she partnered with Miami-Dade County Schools in conjunction with the Social Sciences department to create the first comprehensive financial literacy program for K-12. During the last month of school, students learn about personal finance. The first students participated in the program in May and April.
“This has really mushroomed into something powerful for kids in Miami-Dade County,” Steckler said.
The band's mascot, which is a cartoon devil with a single tear running down its cheek, is to remind the band to “play so good the devil cries,” Gooding said. For about 30 minutes, the students listened to original songs by the four-person band, which just signed a dead with Gold Star Studio in Memphis.
The students bopped their heads and clapped their hands to the beat of the drums. A few hollers and whooping noises came from the crowd.
At the end of the show, Gooding gave a brief presentation on financial literacy, talking about compound interest, investing, credit scores and warning students of payday loans and spending more money than they are making. He gave examples of students athletes, musicians and actors who went bankrupt because of mismanaging their finances.
“Money’s not bad,” he said. “It’s our lack of knowledge that’s screwing us up.”
After the presentation, the band answered questions from students.
“I don’t really understand credit and debit cards,” one girl said.
Gooding jumped up and explained that a debit card lets you use cash from your bank account, and a credit card lets you borrow the bank’s money, but that it's money that needs to be paid back usually within a month.
A boy asked Gooding what’s his favorite color.
“Purple,” Gooding said. “I’m missing Prince.”
Some students, such as Dylan Liman, 13, arrived at the Arsht with no prior knowledge of finances.
The eighth grader from David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center, said he enjoyed the band.
“They were teaching us how to work with our finances and money,” Dylan said.
He said he now knows how to save his money responsibly.
Aryonah Toussaint, 12, said she knew what a credit and debit card were before the assembly but said she still learned new things. The seventh-grader from Andover Middle School said the band was entertaining and she’d like to see them again.
“They gave us good details that will help us in the future,” she said.
One message that Gooding wants kids to remember is “slow and steady,” he said.
“I know it’s not sexy,” he said, “but it’s important to have a savings account.”