The funeral business is a highly profitable industry but, in most cases, funeral costs can be negotiated. If you plan on holding the funeral at a funeral home, there is one major expense that is non-negotiable. So, we will begin with an explanation of that service.
Sometimes called Service Fees, these fees are non-negotiable. This is an expense charged by the funeral home to cover the cost of paying their staff during viewing hours and the funeral service itself. The cost also covers paperwork, which includes procuring the death certificate, among other administrative fees associated with having the funeral at the funeral home.
This fee, which can be up to $2,000, can be avoided altogether by holding the funeral elsewhere, such as at a church, or by foregoing a funeral for a simple memorial service to be held at a family member’s home.
Of course, the cost of the casket is negotiable, but so is the location where it is purchased. If you choose to hold the funeral at a funeral home, keep in mind that you are not required to purchase the casket from the funeral home. You can save thousands of dollars on the cost of the casket by purchasing it online (ex: Costco, Walmart), and by law the funeral home cannot refuse its delivery and it cannot charge you extra for the handling of a casket purchased elsewhere.
If you do choose to purchase the casket through the funeral home, however, consider these negotiating tips:
- Ask to see the complete price list before viewing their casket samples. The caskets that funeral homes keep onsite are often the most expensive, and they know that, because you are grieving, you will feel inclined to purchase a more expensive casket than necessary.
- Do not opt to have the casket sealed. This is absolutely unnecessary, costs the provider less than $20 to do, and will add hundreds of dollars to the price of the casket.
- When discussing outer burial containers, ask if it is a requirement of the cemetery you plan to use. It is a requirement for some, but not for others. If you can avoid the purchase, it can save you up to $1,000.
Any funeral home can bury at any cemetery, so if you do plan on holding the service at a funeral home, shop around for burial plots, even if the funeral home you are using is already located on the grounds of a cemetery.
Do not allow the funeral home personnel to pressure you into using a specific cemetery. They most likely have special arrangements with them, and it could end up costing you more.
The cost of funeral flowers is very high. Some funeral homes will require that you pay in advance for the flowers. However, there is no requirement that you purchase the flowers through them. Also, keep in mind that friends and family will also be ordering arrangements. By minimizing this purchase and ordering from a source other than the funeral home, you can save hundreds of dollars.
In fact, do not allow the funeral home personnel to direct you in any decision. They have business arrangements with all vendors, including their preferred cemetery. They may have compassion but, in the end, it is merely a numbers game for them. Always remember that people who work in funeral homes are neither clergy nor are they even quasi-clergy. They are salesmen who are beholden to their bosses, and it is their job to make a profit for their business.
When arranging for funeral services, it is critical to remember that, no matter what the funeral service salespeople say or try to pressure you to do or buy, the decision is yours and yours alone. The amount of money you spend to bury your loved ones has no correlation to the amount of love you have for them.