This morning, I logged on to pay my husband's American Express bill. On the web page, I notice a list of their current promotions, and I clicked through to see if there was anything that we were going to be purchasing anyway.
An hour later, I had looked at new bedding, flowers, pillows for a porch we don't have, and Thanksgiving centerpieces. Thankfully, I avoided making any actual purchases, but it was a waste of time AND a potential trap. That is exactly these offers are made - the offer brings customers to a company's store or website, where they fall into that crazy shopping euphoria and spend money.
I avoid malls, and stores in general, because I firmly believe that they are a waste of time and that they create desire for things where no desire previously existed. Have you ever bought something that you didn't know existed because you decided that you needed it? I have, and I think that I am not alone. Spending time in stores introduces you to new products, and presents old products in alluring settings. And the next thing you know, you've gone to Target for diapers and left with a $114 bill and a bottle of Diet Coke. (Not that this has ever happened to me.)
Online window shopping can be just as dangerous as actual store shopping. The advertisements are all over your social media and news feeds. It takes only a minute to click over and buy something, and because it is electronic money, you don't feel the pain of handing over cash. And the item turns up right at your door! Magic!
Obviously, we can't all avoid stores and online shops completely. Shoes wear out, food gets eaten, and beds need sheets. Limiting yourself to only essential shopping can be challenging, but it is a great step toward avoiding mindless purchases and having better control over your money.