It’s the day after Christmas, and you know what that means: the few people who slept outside stores to grab things in the sale riots will be featured on the evening news. If you’re not one of those people, great, because here are a few tips to help with the sales slog.

Go in with a purpose

Sales may well be a way of saving money, but so much of the time we’re going in without a reason, beyond that of “well, everything is cheaper, so obviously I’m going to find something I want.”

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case, and unless you go in with a purpose — a goal of finding something you want — you’re probably going to walk away with an unwanted product, something that gives you an initial burst of pleasure from finding something in the sales, but within weeks will be just another miscellaneous box taking up space in that growing mess you still don’t want to clean up.

If you want a new phone, go in knowing you’re looking for a new phone, thinking about the screen size and rough price you’d like to pay.

If you’re after a new digital camera, look up the cameras you’ve been eyeing and remember the features they have, comparing these to the products that have been slashed in price during the sales.

Whichever the product you’ve been eyeing, go in with that in mind, and don’t get swayed by the bargain bin just because it’s there, because there is probably a great reason why products are in the bargain bin.

Beware the bargain bin

There’s a reason they call a “bargain bin” what it is: sure, it might contain a bargain, but all too frequently, you find things in there that should have been binned a long time ago, and probably were labelled as bargains long before the Boxing Day sales ever began.

We’ve seen numerous gadgets that were well past their expiration date in these things, with cases for defunct phones, headphones that you’d be lucky to see work past a week, and video games that nobody ever wanted to play.

Often, the products in these bins of bargains were labelled “discounted” or “clearance” before the sales started, but during the hype of the end-of-year sales rush, you’ll see people grab everything they can just because it has a red mark, a slash through a price, or a hint that the product is on sale.

With some of these bins, you might get lucky, but you also might be falling for the trap of a store desperate to get rid of crap that it hasn’t been able to move all year.

And sure, you might find a bargain amidst this crap, but you might also end up with another crappy gift that you could’ve just left in the bin, saving yourself of some space at home, a frown, and getting yourself a coffee or an ice cream with the money instead.

Research, research, research

One common mistake found form sales is that people will buy any old thing just because the docket says you’re saving money.

That’s nuts. We review hundreds of products every year, and while many of them are good, some aren’t, and even if it came with a lower than average price tag, we still wouldn’t spend our hard earned dollars on the item.

Ultimately, just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you’re getting a bargain, so here’s what you can do: grab the item, keep it in your hands so no one can take it off you, and pull out your mobile phone to do a little mid-shop research.

Search on Google for the product’s name and the word “review”, and find out what reviewers like us — possibly us, depending on the results you get — are actually saying about the product.

If the scores are good, go nuts. Grab that gadget and run for the cashier, scoring yourself a bargain. If not, put the product down and save your cash for something else, preferably a product that isn’t trash.