How a rock band is helping teach high school students about financial literacy

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Posted at 9:21 AM, Dec 02, 2022

For many people, music helps them escape reality. Musician Carter Hulsey is taking a different approach. He's using his platform to help people face reality.

“When I was your age, we didn’t talk about money in school. We didn't talk about it at home. I didn’t think about it," Husley told students from the stage at Shiloh High School in Georgia. "Just started heading around the country getting into credit card debt learning all this stuff the hard way.”

Hulsey is a Nashville-based musician who has toured the country for more than a decade.

Not only does he perform in music venues across the country, but he also performs in front of students and teaches financial literacy with the nonprofit Funding the Future.

“I’m not the kids' teacher, I’m not their parent, there’s not a test at the end of it. We’re guys in a rock and roll band," Husley said.

A professional rock band may seem like an odd fit to teach the importance of balancing a budget, understanding loan interest and managing debt, but that is the point.

“I tell the kids I had a credit card, and I didn’t know what a credit score was. That's, like, insane. That should be flipped around," he said.

Funding the Future puts on shows nationwide, teaching financial literacy by using music as an entry point.

“Hopefully, music gives them that kind of lightning bolt of, 'Wow, even these people standing on stage acting all crazy have to keep a budget,'" said the musician Gooding, the nonprofit's founder.

Gooding said the idea for Funding the Future came to him as a touring musician, meeting a lot of people and hearing a lot of their troubles.

“I feel like financial literacy is a common denominator for a lot of problems. It’s not just about money if people lose hope. They are not going to be a place where anything good is going to happen," Gooding said.

More than a dozen states have passed laws to require personal finance classes in schools.

Georgia’s Secretary of State sponsored the performance at Shiloh High. Financial literacy will be required curriculum in Georgia starting in 2024.

Terron Johnson, a teacher at Shiloh High School, is making sure students learn the lesson now before they can go into debt.

"It's a real-world thing. A lot of times students will say, "Why do I need to know this math? How am I going to use this in real life? Well, financial literacy, you will use this down the line,” Johnson said.

Hulsey manages the budget for his band when they go on tour, a far cry, he says, from years ago when he says he didn’t know the first thing about being smart with money.

He hopes by showing students that even those who live the rock-star life need to understand financial wellness, it will stick with them down the road.

"It was a taboo subject, and if we can change that, and we can start feeling comfortable asking questions about money asking questions about finances, it will be a game changer for them," Hulsey said.