Funeral Cost Savings
By Selena Maranjian
You can save a lot of money on funerals, if you do a little research -- and now is a good time
to do so, before you actually need funeral services. Over the last few years, the death-care industry has become
dominated by a few companies that buy local funeral homes. (You may not realize it, but your local funeral home may
be owned by one of these giants.) As competition has decreased, prices have increased.
To make matters worse, consumers who need death-care services are usually in very vulnerable and
distracted states of mind, not wanting to skimp when it comes to honoring their loved ones.
Here are some smart ways to go about funeral planning:
Take the time to get informed about the industry now, when you're not in a state of emotional
upheaval. Learn how much various things cost and think about what might be best for you and your loved ones.
Make decisions before you need to, if possible. Get down in writing what your loved ones' wishes are, too. Once you
know, for example, that grandma prefers cremation and grandpa wants a simple pine casket, you'll have fewer
decisions (or guesses) to make later.
Consider getting an inexpensive casket. Bodies will decay wherever they are, and the cost difference is great
between various caskets. Some cost many thousands of dollars, others cost several hundred dollars. (And many $3,500
caskets may have cost the funeral home just $700 wholesale.) Simple and dignified cardboard caskets are a
possibility, too. Don't believe anyone who tries to sell you something that will "preserve a body forever."
In most cases, you don't have to buy the casket from the funeral home. You can often buy the same casket from a
discount vendor (at substantial discounts) and have it delivered to the funeral home. Funeral homes are generally
required to accept it.
In most cases, embalming is not required, unless an open casket is desired. Many funeral homes will try to talk you
into paying for it, though -- at an average cost of $400.
Beware the recommended rubber gasket (a.k.a. "protective sealer"), which, according to some sources, costs just
dollars to make but is sold for several hundred dollars. It's pitched as "protecting the body from decay," but
nothing can stop a body from decaying.
Don't tell a funeral director more than you need to, such as how much the deceased was worth, or what insurance
benefits may be forthcoming.
Take a friend with you when you talk to death-care providers.
You can save some money and honor a death in a more personal fashion in several ways. You don't have to buy a
casket -- you can build and decorate one yourself, or have one built. You don't have to use a funeral home's
viewing room, either -- a loved one can "lie in honor" in someone's home, a community hall, or a church.