Five tips for back-to-school tech shopping

As the first day of school rapidly approaches, parents are scrambling to get the kids in gear – and that includes sending the kids off tech-ready.  Here are five helpful tips to keep in mind when shopping for back-to-school tech gadgets.

1.    Make a list, and prioritize.
A brand new computer can make a sizeable dent in your credit card. So, as with grocery shopping, when going back-to-school shopping ensure that you make a list and prioritize what you need and what you merely want.  Chances are you only need the bare necessities and the all of the other gadgets are simple wants.  Bear in mind that you can go a long way with a small budget — even when it comes to technology.

2.    Do your research.

Before hitting up the big box electronic stores, remember to do your research!  Keep in mind that stores often mark up prices come back-to-school time, and sales associates sometimes try to sell you electronics that you really don’t need.  Instead, go online – there are many great parenting resources like Today’s Parent – where parents share past experiences and shopping advice, and find out what your child really needs for their age group.  Needs shift as they move through elementary school, to high school, to post-secondary education.

3.    Hunt for the sales in flyers, and online.

Keep an eye on the weekly flyers and online on store websites. Parents often make the mistake of leaving back-to-school shopping to the last minute and they – literally – pay for the procrastination. is a great all-in-one destination for local flyers, and big box stores have sales early on in the season with limited quality items. Laptops also go on sale late-July/early-August, and that is the ideal time for families to head to the store and save some money simultaneously!

4.    Cash-strapped? Take a look at feature phones.

The reality is, we live in a smartphone-dominated world.  They aren’t cheap to start with, so if you are a little cash-strapped, be sure to take a look at feature phones. Cell phone carriers, like Rogers Wireless, offer an inexpensive alternative to having a smartphone that maintains access to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and email; without the added cost of an actual data plan.  They can range from $7/month and up; versus the $25+/month with a traditional data plan.

5.    Find the free alternatives to expensive programs.

Companies like LibreOffice and OpenOffice offer free or inexpensive alternatives to productivity software tools like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.  There are no strings attached – they are simply open-source software choices (maintained by free developers) that offer significant savings to a family, giving the same amount of functionality as the traditional paid software, without the high price tag.

What tips do you have when it comes to back-to-school tech shopping? Share them with us in the comments below, or email!

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March Break: The Deal About ‘Group Deals’

When it comes to planning your next vacation, there are many online options to help you out along the way.  Websites like Groupon,, and have made it much easier for people to plan last-minute getaways, while getting the biggest bang for the buck.

Group buying allows merchants to sell large quantities products or services at a highly discounted rate to the consumer – similar to going to a bulk food store.  Many websites feature the “deal-of-the-day,” often including last-minute vacation deals.  It’s important to know that most deals have conditions – some only let you use it on certain days of the week; others only let you use it between certain times; or even limiting the number of people.  Always check the fine print before clicking on the “Confirm Purchase” button as most deals are non-refundable.

If you’re new to group buying, and want to start hunting down your first deal-vacation, take a look at these three great websites.

1)    Groupon –


This service first became popular with the introduction of their iPhone app.  You simply add your credit card number – and just like that – you’re ready to shop your heart away.  Groupon has partnered up with Expedia to bring you last-minute vacation deals for many locations – from the Yosemite to Alaska – from 40 percent off all the way up to the 70-percentile range.  Imagining staying at a Las Vegas hotel for $59 a night, a 65% discount compared to $169 a night.


2)    Hotwire –

This website runs around unsold airfare, hotel, rental cars, and vacation packages.  When the packages are unsold, Hotwire sells them to last-minute vacations at highly-discounted rates.  Hotwire works with Expedia – so you know that they are a trusted brand – offering quality destinations at a fraction of the cost.


3)    RDeals –, launched back in November, is a daily deals site that brings local and national finds to Canadians for up to 90 per cent off the original price – many of which include door-crashing vacation deals.   A great example; for $19, you can go on a snow shoe tour in Collingwood, Ontario – over 65% off the original price of $55.

“Canadians are increasingly looking to engage with their favourite brands through multiple digital platforms and channels.  With RDeals, we are offering savings on top, quality brands and seamlessly connecting customers, wherever they are, to merchants across the country,” said Jason Tafler, Chief Digital Officer, Rogers Media Inc.

You can find a wide-selection and deal-worthy rates while shopping online.  It’s important that you take the time to do your research, so you can make sure you’re getting the best worth for your hard-earned money.

Full Disclosure: is a division of Rogers Communications Inc., the parent company of Citytv and CityLine.

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