Rock ‘n’ roll and financial literacy might seem like an unlikely pairing, but for Los Angeles band Gooding, music is the perfect medium for teaching students to use money wisely.
The band’s performance at the University of Wyoming Monday night was part of its Financial Literacy Tour: half rock, half life lessons. Under the bright red lights of the Wyoming Union Gardens, Gooding — the band’s eponymous frontman — described his own struggles with money; in his youth, he knew far more about geometry than how to balance a checkbook, he said.
“To me, the most rock ‘n’ roll thing in the world is getting to do what you want to do,” he said. “Whatever it is that you’re dreaming — I’m not up here to tell you guys to be rock ‘n’ rollers. Whatever it is you know that you’re good at, that you feel burning inside, whatever your passion is — I want to see you get there a little bit quicker than even we did.”
Gooding stressed the importance of “slow and steady” and warned students about taking out unnecessary credit cards and payday loans, explaining how they could end up paying substantial amounts of money through high interest rates.
“Being intelligent about everything you’re going to do, the moves you make, making a plan — this is how people get where they want to go,” Gooding said. “You’ve got to do it yourself, though. You don’t wait for somebody else: the lottery, the sports contract, the record deal. You have to do it bit by bit as you go.”
In opening remarks, Wyoming State Treasurer Mark Gordon called Gooding a “novel band” with “an amazing, basic message.”
“When you think about what Wyoming has been able to do — we’ve been able to, with the Hathaway scholarship, make sure kids actually graduate from college without the new normal debt,” Gooding said. “Most kids pay off their debt now at about age 40. There are 30 percent of the people in this country that have less than $10,000 to retire on. So, we have an incredible job to do.”
After the performance and presentation, Gooding and his bandmates — drummer Jesse Rich, bassist Billy Driver and Erin O’Neill, a singer and guitarist currently touring with the group — fielded additional questions from UW students about retirement accounts, credit scores and budgeting.
Holly Burnham, a member of the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming’s financial wellness committee, said Gooding’s performance was part of the university’s “Common Cents Week” — a series of events on financial literacy.
“It was very helpful, and I thought it was great that they presented financial literacy in an entertaining way,” she said. “I never would have thought that music and financial literacy was correlated, and it was interesting … it’s not just something we should learn, but it’s a problem, I think, in our country.”
The band has spread its message of financial knowledge to more than 100 high schools and colleges throughout the U.S. Its performance Monday was sponsored by Warren Federal Credit Union, Security First Bank, U.S. Bank, First Interstate Bank and ANB Bank.