People in the United States are fifteen billion dollars behind on their credit card payments. Fifteen billion dollars is a lot of money. Some people need to spend past what they have at the moment, but many are spending just to spend. Rather than limiting the act of lending, the problem of delinquent credit card debt should be approached with an incentives system, a debt forgiveness program, or a limitation on overdrafts.
Since the Incentive Theory of Motivation was first proposed, psychologists have recognized the often superior effects of using incentives rather than punishments. This is why I believe that using incentives to encourage people to pay off their credit card debt before they are fined for it would be overwhelmingly beneficial. Each year that people pay off all of their monthly debts in a timely manner, they should be given a small monetary sum or an increase in the interest that their savings account makes. With the thought of extra money in their minds, people will become more conscious about how much they overcharge, as well as how to best manage their money so they pay off their debts in the most timely manner possible. People will do a lot for seemingly free money, and thus these are small changes that would create a large difference in the lives of lenders and borrowers alike due to their reinforcing nature.
Forgiveness is an important element to a productive human race; people can’t further who they are, or what they are able to do, if they’re caught up in holding onto the past. Therefore, it seems obvious that a debt forgiveness program should be considered. This program wouldn’t eliminate the fees incurred through overspending, but rather it would keep the existing fees constant without accumulating extra debt once the spender attempts to begin paying back what they owe. With this type of system, people wouldn’t be punished for their past mistakes once they come to recognize them, and would instead be encouraged to start paying back their debts as soon as possible. This type of system would also encourage people not to give up and file bankruptcy because it would prevent preexisting debts from accumulating exponentially.
Overdrafts are one of the easiest mistakes a person can make. Maybe you forgot how much was in your account, maybe you forgot you bought your mom an expensive bracelet the week before so now you’re low on funds, or maybe you’re sick or tired and you completely forget that your credit card isn’t your fountain of wealth. Whatever it may be, people make mistakes. Sometimes, people need a way to protect them from themselves. When it comes to credit cards, this would best be done through a limitation on overdrafts. There should be a program where banks only allow you to overdraft your account a certain number of times before you are unable to do it anymore. Allow it may be frustrating at the time, this would allow people learn from their mistakes by knowing that they can’t afford to make that mistake too many more times in case they have to overdraft in an emergency. People often need a reason to learn from their mistakes, otherwise they don’t.
In the world of lending and borrowing, it is important to remember that the borrowers are human. Humans make mistakes, and after they come to recognize their faults, humans often wish to make amends. However, the burden of credit card debt is difficult to rectify due to seemingly insurmountable fines that grow exponentially on what was once a small debt. In order to minimize the disastrous effects of this growing problem, there should be various systems in place that protect and benefit the borrower rather than punish them severely. There is no point in continuing to punish people for their mistakes for the rest of their lives, nor is it morally right. There are people in the world that fall behind on payments because they have to pay for necessities like food and rent and bills, but once they are able to get back on their feet, they should have a chance to move on with their lives. At the place the lending system is at now, people are never able to get out once they’ve made a mistake, and that is not what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. The United States are supposed to be a place of equal opportunity, they are supposed to be home of The American Dream. But if people continue to be shackled by all-consuming debt because banks wish to take advantage of people’s already bad situations, then the United States has no place boasting about freedom.