Americans are carrying more credit card debt. Here’s how financial experts suggest tackling it – KPNX

Americans are carrying more credit card debt. Here’s how financial experts suggest tackling it – KPNX

NerdWallet found in it’s annual credit card study that the average American will pay $1,380 in interest alone this year, if interest rates don’t rise again.

PHOENIX — Higher prices on goods, incomes not rising to meet them and rising interest rates are part of what a new study said is leading to Americans carrying more credit card debt.

NerdWallet found in its annual credit card study that the average American will pay $1,380 in interest alone this year if interest rates don’t rise again.

Tough times

Getting calls for financial help isn’t new for Pastor Andre Miller’s New Beginnings Christian Church in Mesa.

But, lately, it’s the people he’s getting calls from that have changed.

“We’ve got a lot more calls from people who are actually working that need assistance,” Miller said.

Miller said these are people who have families to feed, with both parents working jobs but are still struggling to make ends meet.

“They’re coming up short on groceries; they're coming up short on utilities; they're coming up short on car notes. So people are just not being able to stretch like they used to,” Miller said.

As Miller has seen federal COVID relief funding running out, he’s noticed more people needing help amid inflation and rent increases.

“It's sad because we would love to help everybody. But we're just not able to do that,” Miller said.

Credit card debt rising

NerdWallet’s study found the amount of credit card debt people have in the United States has risen amid inflation and interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

Michael Sullivan, with Take Charge America, a non-profit that offers financial counseling, said more people are calling lately in need of help.

While January is usually busier for Take Charge America after holiday spending, Sullivan notes, people are blaming high gas prices, as well as rent and food increases.

“We’re seeing folks now routinely having over 20% APR on a credit card,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the higher interest rates are affecting how quickly people can address credit card debt.

“It's very difficult to pay down the principal. So people are carrying those balances longer and longer. And everything is costing more and more. And it's more and more difficult for people to catch up,” Sullivan said.

"Sneakier way to get into debt"

However, it’s not just credit card debt Americans are taking on.

NerdWallet found nearly 1 in 5 Americans have used a buy now, pay later option in the last year.

Matt Vian, a financial advisor with Northsight Wealth Management, said it presents the same problem as credit cards.

“It’s still going to cost the price it's going to cost you,” Vian said. “And a lot of times, these places have high-interest rates as well.  So it’s a much sneakier way to get into debt.”

Pay high-interest credit cards first

To work on tackling debt, Sullivan recommends paying down high-interest credit cards first.

“You have to make minimum payments on every other bill you have. And try to find a few extra dollars, however many it is, to attack that highest-interest credit card and get it paid off quickly,” Sullivan said.

Vian also recommends writing down all debts owed to figure out what to tackle first.

“What your account balance is, what the amount of debt that you owe is, and then also the minimum payment that you have, and the interest rate,” Vian said.

“Write it all out to really take a look and assess, ‘What is my situation?’”

Hardships continue

Still, Sullivan is anticipating challenges ahead in 2023.

“I am afraid this is going to create another wave like we had during the last crunch back in the 2000s,” Sullivan said. “And I hope not; I hope that people can cut back on their spending and keep it in control.”

Still, Miller will be working to help those he can help in these tough times.

“It's going to take all of us those in the position of need, and those who are not in a position of need to put our heads together and figure out what can we do as a society to make things better for everybody, Miller said.

Church Donates A Minivan To Family Of 7; Continues To Help Out Others – Christianity Daily

Church Donates A Minivan To Family Of 7; Continues To Help Out Others – Christianity Daily

The pandemic has struck most Americans–unemployment cases on the rise and no money to spare. This has been the case for Fallon LaGuerra and her family, she has lost her job during the pandemic and on top of that she has to take care of her seven children. She thought she was alone in this struggle–but the Church had her back.

Pastor Andre Miller Sr. of New Beginnings Christian Church knew her situation and he wanted to take action and help her out. He and the other members of the Christian Church wanted to help a struggling sister out. At the same time of losing her job, LaGuerra’s family car also broke down. With no money to spare for repairs, she decided to let it go.

However, Pastor Miller decided to help out with her struggles and immediately went on Facebook to post an inquiry. He asked who can help him out in donating a minivan to a deserving and worthy mother, ABC15 reports. In no time, his post was answered by people who were willing to help out.

Jeremy Whitaker, a former council member in Mesa, saw the pastor’s Facebook post and shared it. The nonprofit group, “Helping Hands for Single Moms” and the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals (NAPRO), teamed up and repaired a minivan that would be donated to LaGuerra and her family

LaGuerra was still clueless on what was happening. She was just about to have her usual chat with Pastor Miller but little did she know he would surprise her and her family with the minivan.

“It’s amazing. It’s amazing because you don’t see that in too many places. I know the pastor’s heart is in a good place,” LaGuerra happily shared.

She is very much thankful for the people of her community who went out their way to help struggling people just like her. She believes it was divine intervention that helped her receive these gifts from the community.

Pastor Miller already has a history of helping people out during the pandemic. His church community has started a fundraiser to help people out struggling people in need. Kristen Smith, a single mother and a frequent churchgoer from the community, was helped by the community and was given $250 which was enough to cover her expenses.

Pastor Andre Miller Sr. of New Beginnings Christian Church

Pastor Andre Miller Sr. of New Beginnings Christian Church

The New Beginnings Christian Church does not only help the people from their community but they really help those who are in need. Tattoo artist Beau Banks did not attend Pastor Miller’s church, yet it was the same church that helped him. All Banks needed to do was ask and he did receive help.

He was about to be evicted from his home if it were not for the help of Pastor Miller’s church. “I almost came to tears, yet it was pretty moving,” Banks shared.

Pastor Miller’s church is just one of the many churches that have helped thousands of people ever since the pandemic happened. Continuously spreading the good news and the good mission of the Lord.

NBCC Donates Minivan to Mother of 7

Auto repair network donates minivan to mother of 7 with help from church – ABC15 Arizona

A minivan now belongs to Fallon and her family with the help of New Beginnings Christian Church and the nonprofit “Helping Hands for Single Moms,” and the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals, or NARPRO.


It was a special day for Fallon LaGuerra and her family. It’s a day she thought would start with a simple chat with her pastor, Andre Miller of New Beginnings Christian Church.

Pastor Miller and other members of the community in Mesa had other plans.

Fallon lost her job last year due to the pandemic and her car broke down, too. All this while she took care of her seven children.

When Pastor Miller found out about her struggles, he went into action.

He posted on Facebook, asking for anyone who could donate a minivan to the deserving mother.

The post was answered immediately, Miller says.

“A buddy, who used to be a council member in Mesa, Jeremy Whitaker, he saw it, he shared it. The person he shared it with was able to meet the need that we had.”

With the help of the nonprofit “Helping Hands for Single Moms,” and the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals, or NARPRO, a donated and repaired minivan would now belong to Fallon and her family.

James Garnand of NARPRO believes a higher calling is what brought everything together.

“Somebody above directed this situation. It wasn’t really done by us or anybody standing here. It’s just the way things happened to come together,” Garnand stated.

Whether it be coincidence, or divine intervention, Fallon is thankful to her East Valley community for helping her and her family.

“It’s amazing. It’s amazing because you don’t see that in too many places. I know the pastor’s heart is in a good place.”

Mesa protest, prayer gathering focus on police – East Valley Tribune

Mesa protest, prayer gathering focus on police  – East Valley Tribune


The tone of two events in Mesa aimed at addressing systemic racism was remarkably different, with one a prayerful rally for change and the other the first protest over the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

But in the end, the goal of the protest last Tuesday and the prayer gathering on Wednesday was the same: to work towards more equality in the way people of color are treated by police.

The prayer vigil sponsored by Rev. Andre Miller at New Beginnings Christian Church in Mesa was focused on unity, while the march sponsored by Rev. Reginald Trotter of Phoenix was aimed at reigning in excessive force and racial profiling.

 “God has brought us here for such a time as this. Change is here. Change is knocking at the door,’’ said Rev. Tyronne Stowe, a former National Football League linebacker with the Arizona Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins.

“If we don’t get it right here, don’t expect to make the trip,’’ he said, alluding to heaven. “There ain’t going to be no segregated heaven.’’

Miller, who said he has served on a Mesa police use of force advisory committee, said his goal in sponsoring the prayer event was to bring people together.

It drew Mesa Mayor John Giles, Councilwoman Jen Duff, Tempe Mayor-elect Corey Woods and Tempe Police Chief

Sylvia Mohr.

Giles and Duff knelt on the asphalt in the church parking lot in prayer, joined by at least 200 others, including some Scottsdale Police officers.

“The message is, ‘it takes all of us to fix all of this,’’’ Miller said. “We have to get together to do the hard work to make America better.’’

John Goodie of Gilbert, a retired Mesa park ranger and a longtime Mesa civil rights advocate who helped establish Mesa’s Martin Luther King Day celebration, said he has been victimized by structural racism his whole life as a large black man.

Recently, Goodie said, he was standing behind an elderly white couple at an ATM in Gilbert. The woman noticed him and quickly became so nervous that they bolted toward their car, leaving their debit card behind.

Goodie said he followed them to the car. At first, the woman refused to roll down her window, but when she noticed Goodie holding her ATM card, she gladly accepted it and apologized for her reaction.

“Together, we are all better,’’ Goodie said. “That’s what I have been about my whole life, to celebrate our differences and our likenesses.’’

Pastor Palmer Chinchen, of The Grove Christian Church in Chandler, spoke at the event and encouraged church members to attend.

“We wanted to come as an act of solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters. We want to make changes to end racism,’’ he said.

Alluding to Floyd’s death, Mohr said, “the shield can be tarnished by the acts like we saw,’’ but tragedy can spawn “true transformative, systemic change.’’

She added, “There is no one who despises bad cops more than good cops.’’

By all accounts, the protest march a day earlier through downtown Mesa was peaceful, starting at Mesa City Hall and heading down Main Street before ending at Mesa Police headquarters.

Trotter said the focus was on improving Mesa police interaction with blacks, who he said have suffered excessive force and racial profiling.

“Nothing was happening in Mesa,’’ despite a series of protests in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Trotter said. “What really motivated me is that Mesa has a lot of problems, a lot of issues.’’

“Mesa has a history, a tendency, to be very aggressive,’’ he said, with relatively small violations turned into major problems because of racial profiling.

“I would say they need more training on de-escalation rather than using excessive force,’’ he said. “The racial profiling has to stop.’’

He said he has invited Chief Ken Cost to address the protesters at a follow-up protest, after Cost declined to do so at the first protest, citing scheduling conflicts.

Trotter said Mesa also needs a civilian police review board similar to the one recently established in Phoenix. Phoenix City Council last week voted to provide more than $3 million to fund the panel’s operation.

Trotter’s son, also Reginald Trotter, alleges he was the victim of excessive force by Mesa Police in November 2018 when he fought with police while they were arresting him for cutting through a park after hours and cocaine possession. A notice of claim is pending against the city.

Rev. Trotter said there were similarities in police tactics used against his son and against Floyd by Minneapolis police, but Assistant Ed Wessing said he cannot comment because of pending litigation.

“As you know, Mr. Trotter has filed a notice of claim with the City of Mesa related to this incident.  It would be inappropriate for the Mesa Police Department to provide any further statements related to this incident due to pending litigation,’’ Wessing wrote in a response to an inquiry by a TV station. 

“The Mesa Police Department continues to be progressive and is committed to process improvement,’’ he added.

Valley church helping neighbors pay rent – ABC15 Arizona

Valley church helping neighbors pay rent – ABC15 Arizona

MESA, AZ — A Valley church is showing the community they are there for them by handing out cash to those who need help paying their rent.

Pastor Andre Miller, with New Beginnings Christian Church in Mesa said he felt compelled to do something after hearing so many stories about people losing their jobs, and wondering how they would make ends meet.

“The need is there so we just sprang into action. I just wanted to make sure we could do something to help mitigate some of these burdens people are experiencing right now in this pandemic,” said Miller.

The church started a fundraiser to help neighbors in need. So far they have been able to help eight struggling families.

One of them was Kristen Smith, a single mother who lost her job at the bank. Smith has been tapping into her savings to pay her bills.

“My rent still needs to be paid, I still have an electric bill, my car payment, insurance needs to be paid,” said Smith.

The church helped her with $250 dollars which was enough to cover her expenses after she used some of her own money from her savings account.

Cheris Jackson is another Valley woman who is extremely grateful to get help from her pastor. “I was real worried until the pastor reached out to me. I am the type of person, I don’t like asking,” said Jackson.

Tattoo artist Beau Banks did not attend Pastor Miller’s church, yet he too got a helping hand when he reached out for help.

“I almost like came to tears, yet it was pretty moving,” said Banks, who said he would have been evicted had he not received help from the church.

Miller said the church is raising funds so they can help more families in need.

You can help them out by visiting their fundraising page here.

Valley police chiefs come together for forum on community relations.

Valley police chiefs come together for forum on community relations.

MESA, AZ — Rather than screams, chants and protests; it was a calm, civil conversation among those who lead some East Valley police departments, and those who live in the cities they serve.

“With everything that’s happening, we gotta do it now," said Pastor Andre Miller, who invited four East Valley police chiefs, and community members to New Beginnings Christian Church off Gilbert Road and Main Street in Mesa. "We can’t just keep kicking the can down the road or keep waiting for the next big incident or next big situation to happen.”

The Valley Concerned Citizens Police Forum, held just days after Phoenix city leaders voted to implement a citizens review board amid several high-profile use of force incidents, drew more than a dozen residents who asked about agency hiring practices, and discipline processes, among other things.

Among attendees, Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir, Gilbert Police Chief Mike Soelberg, and Interim-Chief for the Mesa Police Department, Ken Cost. Chief Sean Duggan with the Chandler Police Department was also expected at Friday's forum but told church officials he was unable to attend just hours before the meeting began.

"I hope to get what is on the minds of the community," said Chief Moir. "I hope I get some really good questions about the truths behind policing, a lot of folks have a lot of misunderstandings about policing."

The Tempe Police Department received major backlash for the death of 14-year-old Antonio Arce in January of 2019, and more recently, for another incident where a Tempe officer was seen shoving an 11-year-old boy after detaining the boy's older brother.

The Mesa Police Department also scrutinized for similar incidents, including an excessive use-of-force complaint surrounding five Mesa officers seen beating 35-year-old Robert Johnson in the hallway of an apartment complex, alongside several others filed when former Chief Ramon Batista led the department.

"We're putting a period on that and moving forward," Interim Chief Cost said Friday.

Cost, named chief just four months ago, joked that he doesn't have it all figured out to the group of men and woman present Friday, despite his 25 years on the force.

"I think anytime there's tension or questions or concern it comes down to trust and it comes down to relationships," he said.

Several leaders also mentioned the role of citizen review boards, Chief Moir telling ABC15 she supports the group, who's helped make recommendations to her department since its inception in 1999.

“There’s a real strength in having a citizens review board as we have," said Moir. "The folks are not put in the public eye, they’re not prone to public pressure. They are prone to high values, they are trained they are really brought in behind the curtain. And they examine our cases in full. We are completely open and transparent with them and they make recommendations."

Pastor Miller hoping the discussion with respective chiefs gets back to officers on the streets.

“I hope they can take the conversation, they can take the comments and they can take those back to the people who are under them," said Miller. "If the message is not passed down to a line officer then we’ve done nothing.”

Mesa pastor addresses police brutality during sermon following Mesa police investigations – AZCentral

Mesa pastor addresses police brutality during sermon following Mesa police investigations – AZCentral

Andre Miller’s sermon was in response to last week’s outcry over the conduct of several Mesa police officers. Arizona Republic

The pastor who last week called attention to footage of Mesa police officers beating an unarmed man addressed police brutality from the pulpit Sunday, calling for advocacy and unity.

Pastor Andre Miller of Mesa’s New Beginnings Christian Church began his sermon at about 1 p.m., saying that all people are called to love one another as Jesus loved them.

“In our country today, we are so fractured on so many items,” Miller said. “We are fractured on so many issues … If we got rid of the mindset that it’s me versus you or us versus them, we could be in such a better place.”

Miller then moved to a passage in the book of Ephesians, which prompted his first reference to the outcry over the Mesa police footage.

“Because you are my neighbor, I’ve got to have concern for you,” he said. “When my neighbor gets beat up by the police, I’ve got to stand up and say, ‘That’s not okay.'”

Miller said God calls all people to love and care for one another, regardless of racial, ethnic or economic differences. He said he hopes this generation can resolve social injustices to create a better world, where “people aren’t separated by badges and uniforms…color and size.”

Toward the end of the sermon, he also spoke of the importance of representation in political leadership, saying he was considering running for mayor in Mesa.

Lei Sean Curtis, an associate pastor at the church, said Miller’s address was uplifting and appropriate given the recent police scandal. He said the purpose of Miller’s remarks was not to cause division or insinuate that all police officers are bad.

“It’s not to say all Caucasian cops are against all African Americans or all African Americans are against Caucasians,” Curtis said. “It’s a societal problem that we need to address.”

Curtis said that the church regularly addresses social issues, deviating from some pastors’ policies of leaving politics out of the pulpit.

“I think it all depends on how you frame the conversation,” Miller said in an interview after the sermon. “Many political issues are framed in race and they’re framed as ‘us versus them,’ and that’s not the way I convey a message. The message is: If there’s an issue, it affects all of humanity. All of us.”

Miller later praised Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista for working quickly to address the public’s concerns.

Pastor Andre Miller to preach on police brutality after video of Mesa officers beating man – AZCentral

Pastor Andre Miller to preach on police brutality after video of Mesa officers beating man – AZCentral

Robert Johnson, 35, was beaten by a group of Mesa Police officers in May. He spoke publicly about the incident for the first time Thursday. Arizona Republic

Andre Miller, the pastor who sent the video showing officers beating a man to the ground to the Mesa Police Chief, will hold a Sunday sermon on police brutality.

While the video has sparked national debate as well as protests in Mesa, Miller, a pastor at New Beginnings Christian Church in Mesa, said he plans on preaching a message appealing to humanity on Sunday.

“Jesus speaks to hope and love, loving our fellow man,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, none of this is being done to vilify police officers. It’s being done to highlight a problem that disrupts the harmony of humanity.”

Video that showed Mesa officers punching and kneeingRobert Johnson was released by Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista after Miller made Batista aware of the incident.

The night of the incident, May 23, Johnson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and hindering police.

Responding to the firestorm over the officers’ actions captured on video, Batista changed the department’s use-of-force policy. On Wednesday, another man claimed abuse by Mesa officers. Terence Kirkpatrick said Mesa police officers used excessive force and called him the N-word during an incident last fall.

MORE: ‘We will fix this’: Mesa police chief calls for probe into use of force

Mesa police officers will be prevented from striking suspects’ face, head and neck “unless there is active aggression being exhibited by an individual toward the officer,” the department said in a statement.

Andre Miller’s sermon was in response to last week’s outcry over the conduct of several Mesa police officers. Arizona Republic

The case has triggered scrutiny of the Mesa Police Department, which has faced backlash for its use of force in other high-profile episodes. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil-rights violation investigation against a former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in January 2016 and was later acquitted of murder.

Miller hopes that Batista’s prompt actions will be a catalyst for national change, as the public demands rogue officers be held accountable and an end to police brutality.

MORE: Mesa police release body cam footage of officers punching unarmed man

In body cam footage released by Mesa police on June 6, 2018, shows officers punching and kneeing Robert Johnson, who is unarmed. Arizona Republic

Pastor calls for police reform nationwide

“My hope is that the reforms that I’ll be pushing for and other community leaders will be pushing for will also be mimicked across the country,” Miller said. “I think that this could be a great precursor to changes in across the nation.”

Miller said that he was satisfied with Batista’s response once he was shown the video.

“When I first sent him the video, he jumped right into action, as far as investigating, and he changed a policy right then,” Miller said. “At this point, I’m satisfied with actions of the chief.”

Miller said he wants those who attend his service on Sunday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the New Beginnings Christian Church near Main Street and Gilbert Road  to leave feeling restored in spirit.

“It’s something as a pastor I have to speak to…my main goal is to make sure that people are encouraged, that they’re edified with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Republic reporter Uriel Garcia contributed to this article.