Should You Pay for Your Holiday Shopping With Debit, Credit, or Cash? We Asked the Pros

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Shopping deals are popping up earlier and earlier this year, even as the pandemic continues to affect Americans’ spending habits. The majority of shoppers say they plan to shop online this year both out of convenience and due to safety concerns, according to several surveys. As you begin your holiday shopping you might be wondering whether now is a good time to buy with debit (or cash) vs. credit. As with most financial advice, the best decision for your pocketbook will vary based on your personal situation, but these finance and shopping experts have some tips on how to decide what’s right for you.

RELATED: How to Save Money During the Holidays

Worried about your budget amid COVID? Use a debit card or cash.

If you’ve lost your job during COVID or you’re struggling to make ends meet during a furlough, spend with caution. Experts across the board say that now is the time to pinch pennies if you’re concerned about where money for housing, food, or other necessities will come from.

To be sure you aren’t spending beyond your means, Sara Rathner, a credit card expert with Nerdwallet, suggests setting a holiday shopping budget and spending it with cash (or the digital alternative, your debit card). If you have a hard time curbing your spending, you can even set up a separate bank account or bucket (or an envelope with cash) just for holiday spending and stock it with the allotted holiday spending amount.

“And once the money is gone, it’s gone,” she says. “It might mean you have a simpler holiday, but it will also mean that you have a holiday you’re not paying off well into 2021.”

A NerdWallet study showed the average family spends $1,100 on credit card interest each year, which is money you’ll need if things are tight. Avoid racking up credit card debt every holiday season, but particularly this one, when money might be tighter than ever. Similarly, if you’re worried you could potentially lose your job in the near future due to budget cuts or the economic fallout, be sure you have your emergency savings account ready before spending a dime.

“The emergency fund that’s available is not for Christmas presents but for keeping a roof over your head, keeping food on the table,” Rathner says.

Worried about the virus itself? Use a debit card or credit card.

If you’re concerned about hitting the stores alongside other shoppers this year, skip the hubbub and shop online with your debit card. “There’s a bit of hesitation to actually physically going to the store this year,” says Sara Skirboll, RetailMeNot’s shopping and trends expert.

According to a recent CreditCards.com survey, 71 percent of shoppers say they plan to shop online this year. That’s up 20 percent from last year, says Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with CreditCards.com.

“The pandemic is part of it, of course, but that’s not by any means the whole story,” Rossman says. “People also cited convenience as an

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Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Catering

Whether you are helping out a loved one, or planning your wedding yourself, these common questions and answers can get you started in the right direction. Learn the basics of what you need to know about wedding catering right here, and you will be one step closer to coordinating the perfect catering program for your special day.

How Much Does it Cost to Cater a Wedding?

The total price to cater a wedding depends on numerous factors. Every bride, groom, and couple are different, which makes all weddings unique. Factors that influence the overall cost of catering a wedding are similar to the factors that contribute to the overall cost of your wedding altogether.

Such factors include the guest count, number of staff required, type of catering service, type of food, bar service, add-on amenities (i.e. ice luge, chocolate fountains, breakdown service, table linens, china, etc.), and much more. On average, you can expect the cost to cater a traditional wedding to be between $25 and $45 per person. For a customized estimate, you would need to talk to your catering company of choice.

What Will a Wedding Caterer Do?

Wedding caterers have many jobs, but their top priority is to coordinate the food and beverage portion of your wedding to your expectations. This may include developing a menu, arranging table linens and plate ware, allocating bartenders and wait staff, and managing all aspects of delivery, setup, breakdown, and customer service. Basically, you tell them what you want and they make it happen so that you can enjoy your special day!

Are There Different Types of Wedding Catering Services?

There are infinite types of wedding catering services available since they can be customized according to each client. However, there are four common styles that seem to be popular choices for traditional weddings. These include hors D’oueuvres buffet, dinner buffet, seated plated dinner, and food stations. As for beverages, open bars, closed bars, and even BYOB programs are often used for weddings. It all depends on your personal preference, guest count, and budget.

Can I Test the Food Before I Hire a Caterer?

If a catering company tells you that you cannot test the food before hiring them as your wedding cater, do not consider them as an option. This is not a good sign. Any reputable and professional catering company provides food testing services for any potential clients. After all, how else can you be sure the food will taste great? Just keep in mind that it is common for companies to charge a fee for this service, especially during the busy season.

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