This article teaches you how to plan an affordable funeral. With the typical funeral now costing more than the price of a good used car, many families need help making more affordable funeral (and cremation) arrangements.
Affordable Funeral Costs vs. Typical Funeral Costs
Most American funerals now cost between $8,000 and $10,000. Unfortunately, as baby boomers age, demand for funeral services will grow and drive funeral prices up even further. Some experts predict that within three years the average traditional funeral will cost nearly $12,000.
Fortunately, with a little planning you can realistically cut out-of-pocket funeral expenses in half. This means you can save between $4,000 and $5,000 when planning a traditional funeral service or between $1,500 and $3,000 when planning a standard cremation service.
Why It’s Hard to Plan an Affordable Funeral
Even though many people complain about funeral prices, the cost of cremating or burying a loved one continues to increase every year. Before we identify the things you can do to plan a more affordable funeral or cremation service, it may be helpful to discuss why funerals are so expensive.
First, a few facts about funeral homes:
- funeral homes (and many cemeteries) are in business to make a profit
- many funeral homes are now owned by large global corporations
- the more things they can sell you, the more profit they make
- the income for many funeral directors now comes entirely from sales commissions
Unfortunately, most people have no idea what funeral goods and services are required when a loved one dies, nor do they know what those goods and services should cost, so they end up buying whatever the funeral director recommends. Funeral directors know this, so they simply don’t tell families about less expensive options.
While there isn’t anything wrong with running a profitable business, many funeral homes achieve their above-average profits by misleading weary and grieving consumers. Unfortunately, when it comes to funerals, it is easy to mislead consumers.
Until recently most funeral planning information came directly from funeral directors. This meant the only information available to families was what they were told by the very people trying to sell them something.
Unfortunately, many funeral homes only provide information about their most expensive options, so families have little objective information to consider when making final arrangements. Simply put: the majority of families don’t know how to find more reasonably priced options.
But here is some good news: the Internet is making it possible for resources such as the [Funeral Saver’s Kit] to provide families with objective, accurate information that can help them make affordable funeral and cremation arrangements. In fact, much of the information contained in this article comes from the Funeral Saver’s Kit.
How to Plan a More Affordable Funeral
Fortunately funeral planning is one area in which a little education makes a big difference. There are several things you can do that will help you plan a more affordable funeral or cremation service. Here are three basic strategies:
- Choose a low-priced funeral home
- Choose reasonably priced goods and services
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Choosing a low-priced funeral home
While most funeral homes offer similar services, they often price their services differently. For example, Funeral Home A might charge a large fee for the funeral director’s time and add a small markup on the price of a casket; while Funeral Home B might charge a smaller fee for the funeral director’s time, but then make up for it by charging a much higher price for the casket.
Because you are now legally allowed to purchase your own casket from the Internet, funeral home B will usually be willing to discount the price of their casket in exchange for your business. The combination of Funeral Home B’s lower fee for the funeral director’s time and the reduced price of their casket can save you thousands in unnecessary expenses.
Unfortunately, most families do not know which funeral homes in their area offer the lowest prices for the funeral director’s time. That’s where resources like the Funeral Saver’s Kit come into play. You can use the Funeral Saver’s Kit to find the funeral homes in your area that offer the lowest prices for the funeral director’s time. The kit also shows you how to obtain a large discount on any model of casket.
Choose reasonably priced goods and services
Most families have no idea what funeral goods and services cost, nor do they have any idea how large the funeral director’s markup is on the goods and services they buy. It is common for funeral homes to markup the cost of their goods by 300% to 500%. These markups can add thousands of dollars to the funeral home’s bill.
Consumers can be richly rewarded with substantial savings by understanding which funeral goods and services are required and knowing how much those goods and services cost the funeral home.
Once you know which goods and services are required – and how much they should cost – you are in position to make appropriate choices based on your family’s preferences and budget. You can consult the Funeral Saver’s Kit for a detailed listing of legal requirements and prices pertaining to all funeral and cemetery goods and services.
A key to affordable funeral planning is understanding how the service you select impacts the overall price of the funeral. For example, choosing body burial as a means of final disposition means you will have to purchase a casket, outer burial container, cemetery space, and a headstone.
This means that simply agreeing with the funeral director when he suggest a “traditional” funeral can result in thousands of dollars in additional expenses. Alternatively, choosing cremation – or a different type of funeral service – can eliminate many of these “add on” expenses.
However, you can no longer assume cremation will be less expensive than body burial. Over the last few years a new trend has been emerging in the funeral industry: more families are choosing cremation in lieu of a full-blown funeral. In response to this trend, many funeral homes have raised prices for their cremation services in an attempt to protect their profit margins.
While cremation can still eliminate many cemetery-related expenses, a large portion of the savings previously enjoyed when choosing cremation are now eaten up by additional funeral home expenses – so it pays to understand what you are getting for your money. Again, a resource such as the Funeral Saver’s Kit makes it easy to understand all of this so there are no surprises.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
The death of a loved one is one of the most stressful situations any of us will ever encounter. Not only do we have to deal with the emotional baggage and grieving that’s a normal part of losing a loved one, but we are forced to square off against a well polished funeral home employee working toward a large sales commission.
And because most families do not want to look cheap when making funeral arrangements for a loved one, they end up paying the funeral home’s “sticker price” for the goods and services they are sold.
However, because funeral home goods and services include substantial markups, there is plenty of room for educated consumers to obtain legitimate discounts. Many times the funeral home can easily cut their prices in half and still make a substantial profit off of the family’s funeral.
Unfortunately, most families are reluctant – and lack the necessary information needed – to negotiate an appropriate discount on a funeral service. The key is in understanding how the funeral home’s prices compare to their costs. Any funeral good or service that is marked up by hundreds (or thousands) of dollars is ripe for a discount.
Don’t be afraid to tell the funeral director you will purchase certain funeral goods from another supplier instead of buying them from the funeral home. Because the funeral director realizes you can buy many of his goods much cheaper somewhere else, he will be ready and willing to offer a knowledgeable family a substantial discount off of his list prices in order to keep their business.
You can find a list of reputable Internet suppliers in the appendix to the Funeral Saver’s Kit. The kit includes a report card that rates the relative quality, prices, and selection of leading online funeral suppliers. It also includes a detailed listing of the markups applied to common funeral items.)
The need for more affordable funeral options….
As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, demand for funeral goods and services will outstrip the ability of funeral homes to provide those goods and services. Unfortunately, this means that funeral prices will increase by a substantial amount over the next two decades.
Fortunately, technology and the Internet have made it easier for families to beat the funeral homes at their own game. Consumer-friendly funeral planning tools, such as the Funeral Saver’s Kit, are saving families thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses and helping them make more affordable funeral arrangements.
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