Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gooding Rocks Out For Financial Literacy in Golden Gate

“naplesIt’s not your parents’ school assembly.

Students from Golden Gate Middle and High School were given a rocking presentation about personal finance and the importance of savings on Monday, as rock band Gooding took the stage.

“This isn’t a line, man,” band frontman Gooding (he and the band both go by Gooding) said. “We would talk if it was two kids in the grass walking by, we’ll talk about it anywhere. We fell into this because of mistakes we made, family members or friends who worked super hard but were bankrupt, messy loans that I’ve taken, just mistakes that we’ve all made.”

The band started touring and talking about finance in 2011, but Gooding said it really ramped up with the creation of the charity Funding the Future. The band combined with financial management firm Raymond James to do their fall tour.

“They reeled me in last year after I did the first concert because I was just so impressed by the way they were to able to connect with children and have conversations about finance,” said Ilona Box, Vice President of Investments at the Church and Box Planning Group of Raymond James.

In the Wall Street Journal called it in 2015, the approach the band uses is called a “Trojan horse.” The band opened with about a 20-minute performance.

This isn’t School House Rock, either. They’re no tacky songs about interest and dividends, it’s real music that the band has been performing for 15 years, that has been used in several films, television series, and commercials. ‘Mountain,’ for instance, won’t be confused for anything other than the catchy song it is.

That’s when they’ve got them.

A short video plays after the band walks off stage, but when they return, the gears shift to talk about the money.

“Zero is not the bottom anymore. You get with credit cards, same day lenders, you can go a lot further down than zero and when you get into debt it makes your life hard,” Gooding said.

In the presentation, Gooding talks about the importance of saving early, and the dangers of what “easy money” and going into debt can do to somebody.

“If you have a dollar in your pocket, I promise you that you have more money than these people acting a fool on television,” Gooding said, before showing examples of athletes, performers, and lottery winners who had fortunes only to squander them.

One of the key points they try to hit on is “making money that works for you” rather than money that works for someone else, talking about credit cards and payday lenders.

After the show, Gooding mentions a statistic he heard while they were in Miami last week from the superintendent of Miami-Dade Schools, that 35 percent of high school students – high school – graduate with debt.

“Back in Wichita where we grew up, there were same day lenders who took out ads in the school newspaper. Why do you let these people advertise? They want ‘em, especially 18 going off to college, that’s a perfect time to get these kids locked into that cycle of debt,” Gooding said.

“It’s frustrating for us. If somebody doesn’t want to work hard, if they know this stuff but just don’t care that’s one thing. But man, when people don’t even have the information, we’ve got to level the playing field a little bit.”

After the presentation, they open it up for students to ask questions. It’s usually about an even split between questions about the band and the music, which Gooding also appreciates, but also about the topics they’re discussing.

“They’ll leave the show saying they’re going to open a savings account,” Box said, who also served on Funding the Future’s Board of Directors. “They say that they’re going to go to the website that we gave them to get more engaged and see what their credit score can be.”

They wrap up each show by giving students a postcard with more information, and a link to a site for feedback, then the band stays to sign posters and answer more questions from students.

Within minutes, the feedback was already rolling in on Gooding’s phone.

“Watch I’m gonna get one that says ‘your music is trash,’” he jokes, in the same relaxed and slightly self-depreciating tone that he uses to open their presentations.

Sure enough, there they were.

“I’ll get some that will say that my ‘my family never talks about this,’ or ‘my mom really appreciated that I told her don’t go to a same day lender.’

Gooding smacks the back of his hand for emphasis.

“That’s when it gets to us, that’s when we know it reached home.”

There were two shows Monday, one for high school students, and another for seventh graders from Golden Gate Middle. During the high school show, while Gooding was talking about payday loans and the trap that the high interest rates can people into, several students were nodding their heads.

After the show, a district employee remarked that “there’s going to be a lot of conversations at the dinner table in Golden Gate tonight.” They’re doing shows at Palmetto Ridge and Immokalee this week as well.

Gooding smiled when he was told that.

“I hope so,” Gooding said, then paused.

“Man, that’s good. I’m gonna steal that quote.”

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