Deacons can make these recommendations to their church members…
The funeral services industry is actually a group of competitive businesses selling high-priced goods and services to consumers. You should treat funeral services as you would a car dealership. One crucial way to get the best price is to shop around. Nerdwallet explains:
Does the idea of shopping around for funeral prices sound unseemly? It shouldn’t, according to Joshua Slocum, executive director of a nonprofit advocacy group called Funeral Consumers Alliance. Comparing prices among homes is a great way to keep costs down.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers have the right to:
Receive a written and itemized price list. You can pick one up in person or request one via mail. Some funeral homes post price lists online. You can also ask for prices by phone. You won’t be required to provide your name, address or phone number.
View a casket price list in advance. Casket prices likely will be listed separately. The FTC suggests getting the prices before you see the caskets, since the least expensive options might not be displayed.
Get a written statement in advance of payment. This will explain exactly what you’re buying and how much each product and service costs. The statement should also include an explanation of any extra charges that will be applied by the cemetery or crematory.
Whether preplanning your own funeral or arranging one for a loved one, consumers need to set a budget in advance, since many funeral homes ask for full payment upfront, Slocum says.
Here’s the trouble with shopping around: people don’t like to do it at the time of their loved one’s death. It feels weird and strange. They may not have the emotional fortitude. This is why funerals should be planned in advance to the greatest extent possible. It is much better for a husband to work out the details and do the comparison shopping for his own funeral, rather than have his widow make an attempt after he has died.
FOREGOING EXTRA SERVICES
They also report that it is common for consumers to choose a pricey metal casket, which can cost over $2,000. Getting a good deal on a casket is one of the best ways to save a lot of money.
Churches can cheaply eliminate this expense entirely for their congregation members. I have explained how in this article: How to Get a Cheap Casket for Church Members.
Another way to save is by skipping the embalming process and conducting a closed-casket funeral. This can potentially save a thousand dollars:
Embalming and body preparation, $945. Embalming usually isn’t medically or legally necessary, but many funeral homes require it if your family has opted for a public viewing.
You can decline other, related services, such as hairstyling and cosmetic application.
Skipping the public viewing altogether could potentially save another thousand dollars, the article reports.
Some families have rediscovered the practice of the home funeral. It was much more common in the United States prior to the Civil War. This article reports on the phenomenon: Home Funerals Grow as Americans Skip the Mortician For Do-It-Yourself After-Death Care.
Read this article for more ideas on how to save money on funeral costs.
For a website devoted to helping someone plan a funeral without getting taken advantage of or guilt-manipulated, visit Funeral-Help.com. They have a step-by-step guide on the elements required in funeral planning.
For more ways to save money on funeral expenses, read this article: 7 Ways to Save Money on a Funeral.
For a list of over 20 questions to ask yourself before paying for a funeral, read this article: Dirt-Cheap Funerals.
The biggest ways to save on funeral costs are:
- Don’t pay more than $500 for a casket
- Skip embalming
- Have a closed-casket service
- Skip paying for makeup and other services
- Don’t use the funeral home’s facilities
The surviving spouse will need the extra money more than the funeral services industry.
Deacons should develop a “Dirt-Cheap Funeral Services” guide for their congregation. Develop it as a procedure with specific steps. They can then follow the guide in helping members plan their funerals in advance. Once developed, the knowledge won’t be lost, and future deacons who come after you can also benefit from the guide.
If you have made such a guide for your church, let me know. I will post it on this site to share with other deacons.