if you don't already have avy knowledge and tools that is what i would do if i were you. see if you can find a level 1 class that supplies beacons for the class so you can try the different models before you buy one. get a shovel with a bigger blade rather than smaller.
spend the money on your skills rather than just searching for some random piece of gear to buy..
Yeah this is really sounding like the way to go. They do an avy course right at my local hill so that will be easy and several local stores have lots of equipment to check out. Plus there is lots of hikable terrain from my local hill. I am sure this idea will pay off in the next season or two for sure.