1. Talk about funeral planning tips with family ahead of time.
The following Ten Money Saving Funeral Tips, should be discussed with anyone who would be involved with the responsibility of the funeral. Planning ahead, and considering this list, make informed decisions. This will allow everyone to become aware of your new funeral plans. More often than not, at the time of death survivors fall into the subtle ploys of the mortician to spend, spend, spend – a sales tactic we like to call: “Overspend to show how much you care.” Similarly, many families make the mistake to only mention funeral plans in a will. The will however, may have delays to set a date and time which may will likely not be read until long after funeral arrangements will have been made. Ten Money Saving Funeral Tips
2. Price shop by telephone or in person.
There are at least twice as many funeral homes in this country as can be supported by the death-rate. Therefore, many fees include the waiting-around- until-you-die time . . . part-time work for full-time pay. That’s not always the case, however, and price-shopping can save you thousands of dollars.
To see if you’d be getting a reasonable deal, mentally calculate the actual time you think each funeral option takes. Then add an hour or two for behind-the-scenes work for each one. (Remember, too, that funeral homes have large property tax bills, 24-hour phone coverage, and expensive Yellow Pages ads.) Carefully total the cost for everything and then ask, “Will there be any other charges?” If you will be paying more than $100 per hour, you’ve got a high priced mortuary. If the cost for services seems reasonable, be sure to check the cost for caskets, (see next item). Many mortuaries depend on a high mark-up for their profit.
3. Consider a simple wood casket.
It is illegal for a mortuary to charge a “handling fee” for using a casket obtained elsewhere. If a funeral home charges much more than $1200 for a modest casket, it’s a good bet it’s taking a 300%, 400%, or 500% mark-up. That thought alone might be enough to decide on a simple but dignified “plain pine box.”
4. Take a friend or clergy with you.
If you are funeral shopping at a time of immediate need, take someone who will help you resist subtle pressures to spend more than you want.
5. Consider cremation.
It costs a great deal less to ship cremated remains from one state to another. Cemetery space will probably cost less than the space needed for body burial. Or cremains can be buried/scattered wherever you choose.
6. Plan a memorial service without the body present.
In that case, there would be no need for embalming, a fancy casket, or expensive transporting of the body back and forth. Private family visitation and “good-byes” can occur in the hospital or home, before you call a funeral director. Use a church, park, or community center for the memorial service without attending funeral home staff. You can then comfortably consider using a low-cost funeral director from another community to transport the body directly to a crematory or cemetery, if the local prices are too high.
7. Consider body donation to a medical school.
In some areas, there may be no cost to the family whatsoever. In other circumstances, the cost of transporting the body may be the only cost. Often if you ask, cremated remains will be returned to the family after scientific study, usually within a year or two.
8. Ask for a “grave liner” – rather than a “coffin vault.”
If you prefer body burial, ask for a grave liner at a portion of the price of a coffin vault. Again, be sure to shop around. The “outer burial container” is quickly becoming a new way for morticians to increase their income and is an added burden on your funeral finances. With prices as much or more than caskets, remember that it is just a box-for-the- box which gets quickly covered by the cemetery lawn.
9. Consider not using a mortuary.
Consider handling all arrangements without a mortuary. This is permitted in 42 states, and is allowed in Texas. Many families have found it loving and therapeutic as well as a way to get a big discount money easily.
10. Join a Funeral Consumers Alliance organization.
Many have a contract with local mortuaries for discount services. Or some of the price shopping may have been done for you already. There are reciprocal benefits if you move to or die in another state. Supporting a Funeral Consumers Alliance will help to keep this consumer information available for future generations, and the membership fee is very modest.