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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security

By Kirk Noonan (March 30, 2003)

Though they had accumulated nearly $30,000 in consumer debt, Stan and Virginia O’Neill* didn’t worry about their financial future. In their late 20s, both had good-paying jobs and easily made the minimum payment on each bill they owed. But when Virginia stopped working to care for their first child, the O’Neills’ debt began accumulating. Soon after, Stan lost his job.

“We were like many other young people using the credit that was offered to us,” says Stan, 41, recalling his spiral into debt 12 years ago. “Credit used to be extended only to people who could afford it, but during our generation companies started giving it to anyone who had a heartbeat, and we took it without considering the consequences.”

As Stan searched for employment, he started studying biblical principles for handling finances. God provided several consulting jobs, which enabled him to support his family while he looked for  permanent work. In a two-year period, on one income, the O’Neills eliminated all their consumer debt.

Today, the O’Neills stick to a set budget, invest their money, spend wisely and have savings for emergencies. Doing so, says Stan, has enabled his family to experience financial freedom. “Our goal now is to teach our kids financial biblical principles so they don’t make the same mistakes we made,” he says.

Dick Hall, vice president of the unified stewardship program of Assemblies of God Financial Services Group, says trusting in two hefty incomes can create a false sense of security. Many couples have learned the hard way that layoffs, health problems, children and mismanaged pensions can mean that anticipated income has evaporated. Many experts recommend that families have three to six months’ worth of savings in case of emergencies such as injury or unemployment.

A recent Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of Americans ages 18-24 own at least one credit card and the age group is the most prized consumer demographic, especially because they spend the most on consumer goods such as clothes, compact discs and cell phones. In addition, many young people also have car payments and a hefty mortgage that can drain finances each month.

Luke and Amy Montoya*, both 24, learned some difficult money lessons the hard way. When they married four years ago they both had stable jobs and enjoyed spending money at restaurants and malls. But they fell into debt after Luke contracted bronchitis and asthma. For the uninsured couple, medical and prescription costs added up quickly. Today the Montoyas are $10,000 in debt.

“I don’t want to live this way,” says Luke, who works odd jobs to make ends meet. “Emergencies come up fast. If I could do it all over again, I would have money saved up before I got married.”

Hall advises young couples to look to the Bible for guidance in forming a budget. “Sometimes young people need to stop in their tracks and rethink priorities,” Hall says. “We all need to take control of what God has given us. That’s what stewardship is.”

The O’Neills have learned that lesson. Today, Stan teaches a finance class at his church and implores young couples to determine their needs, as opposed to their wants. “Though it’s not always fun and it can be a challenge to get one’s financial situation organized, it definitely pays off in the long run,” he says.

* Names have been changed.


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