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October 14, 2008


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Some funeral homes will "rent" a casket for times when there is a viewing prior to cremation. I wonder if the same thing could be done for other situations- rent a fancy schmancy casket, but swap it for a cheap plywood box prior to burial? Or is this just me taking cheapness to a whole new level?

People DO shop around for funerals. The FTC requires that each funeral home provide a list of prices which (by law)must be given out when someone inquires about a service. If you have a particular funeral home in mind, they may match the pricing from another competitor in the area based upon the price list. Additionally, Costco provides a low cost alternative for caskets.

The cost of the services aside, Jewish burials are required to be in wooden caskets made without the use of metal handles or even nails. Actually, tradition states that the body should be buried without a casket, though local laws may require one. This allows the body to decompose faster and return to the earth (see Genesis). Traditional Jewish caskets are also unlined, and one is usually buried in a plain linen cloth instead of his or her own clothing. My assumption is that this burial method is cheaper than buying a fancy casket.

This whole article is taking cheapness to a whole new level Money Grubbing Lawyer. Saving down to the last second I suppose. But, hey, the better situation you leave your family in, the better.


I also think funereal cost are a rip off. I have donated my body to a medical center and if they do not accept it, ( Hey I may be all used up) I will be cremated. Why send money down the proverbial drain. Have a Party instead and celebrate life.

My parents funerals each cost close to 15k. My brother insisted on taking control, which was okay by me as he was closer to the situation. I don't resent the money spent, as it was my parents money and that's the way their generation does things. But I find the whole process excessive.

Now my aunt expects the same type of funeral and burial, and it will be up to me to provide it. She has no money for such extravagence, but has written down exactly how she wants things done and it will be pricey. I imagine I'll try and follow her wishes, but I'll cut corners where I can.

For me, cremation is definitely the way to go.

I disagree with Caleb in his implication that trying to save on funerals is taking cheapness to a whole new level. I think people overspend on funerals because they are trying to bestow honor on the deceased, and as with everything else in this society, the way to bestow honor is to spend money. Further, it's such an emotional time that any concerns about spending money get thrown out the window.

Personally, I want to die as cheaply as possible. The last thing I want to do is be a financial burden on those who might already be emotionally burdened as it is.

And to be honest, I won't even care if people dishonor me in my funeral. Why? Because I can't care; I'll be *dead*. This may seem a bit disrespectful, but I've never understood why people go through all this trouble trying to honor someone who can't even feel honored, who can't possibly even be cognizant of what is going on. But that's just me.

Anyone know where to find building instructions for caskets? I heard horror stories (true-reported in the news) of people falling through the cheap-os purchased at funeral homes. Why not build your own...the ultimate self-expression!

My husband is seriously ill and we paid for his burial expenses ten years ago. Actually, we bought his burial space before we bought our condo.

Buying funeral arrangements is similar to buying a real estate. Invest early and save big. Funeral homes would be glad to sell you in advance. Once in a while I go and check it, if it is still there and in order.

Since my husband (as I) have a great sense of humor, we often talk about what it would be like being there. There is a big wholesale store across the street from the cemetery. I advise to my husband that their freezers are full of cheesecakes, his favorite food, just in case he could use some... Our kind of joke...

I recently buried my father and my family appointed me to make most of the decisions, mostly because I am the only one that reads sites like this one. Because my dad had terminal cancer, I was able to do some research and make some decisions in advance. The funeral director said it all when he told me "There's no such thing as a cheap funeral". I had told him that I didn't want to be cheap but my dad only had $5700 in life insurance. My parents had about $12,000 in the bank and lived on Social Security so I didn't want to spend much of that. I learned a lot about the funeral business but unfortunately some of it too late to save me money. First I was able to get a casket from a dealer for $650. Not the cheapest she had but pretty close to it. I checked the prices of two funeral homes in my parent's neighborhood, the cheaper one was the one I wanted to go to anyway so that worked out. Cost for one day visitation, church service and graveside service about $6000. Then there was the $1000 to open the grave (dad had bought the grave site in 1960). The grave marker was $2000 (I think I could have saved money here but I did this after dad died and my rational money mind was not working).

My dad had a nice funeral and I felt like we truly honored him. I could have spent thousands more but that wouldn't have made any difference. He would still be gone and all we have left are memories.

Laura --

Thanks for your thoughts -- I think they will help others.

I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

Funerals aren't so much for the person who has passed, but for the ones who are left. By honoring the deceased they feel better - it gives them some solace in knowing that the person will be remembered, and they take away some good memories from a hard time.

My grandmother passed away this year, and it was hard. They didn't spend a ton of money on the casket or funeral, but it was still a beautiful service and visitation. I don't think you have to spend a lot to have a meaningful day.

With that said, I want to be cremated, or barring that, buried in the cheapest casket possible. Or, you could do like the vikings did - push me out into the ocean on a flaming ship!

When my ex-husband died his family didn't have the funds to take care of things, so I did it to keep him out of a pauper's grave that his (our) children could not find.
It cost me over $3000 to have the body cremated. The plate and placement was another couple of hundred.
There was no ceremony. (His family was overseas and I had no interest in attending)
There was no expensive coffin.
And this was 10 years ago now, so add in inflation.
Yes, I think the funeral industry is a rip off.

I sell Life Insurance, so I have to deal with this on a daily basis. If you are a member of a church (especially one with a graveyard), you don't even have to involve the funeral home except maybe to rent the hearst and for the embalming (if that's necessary with your state laws). The funeral home charges extra to set everything up, like going to a travel agent instead of buying your plane tickets yourself.

I want promession! It should cost the same as cremation and I am hanging on till it is widely available in the UK.

Burials can lead to underground watercourses becoming polluted plus the "luxury" of space required, while cremations give rise to harmful mercury emissions from tooth fillings (European environmental laws mean all crematoriums must cut their emissions of mercury by 2012).

Under promession, the body is slowly frozen to -18C then submerged in liquid nitrogen at -196C before being vibrated until it shatters. The water is then evaporated; fillings, hip joints, pacemakers and other metals are removed, leaving a pile of powder roughly a third of the weight of the deceased.

The remains are then buried in a small biodegradable starch coffin in a shallow grave, in woodlands or parkland, where the contents into compost (replete with essential nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus) in six to 12 months.

I have 8 years in the funeral business.

First, I believe part of estate planning is funeral planning. You can pre-pay (which is essentially a term policy) or pre-plan. Funeral providers are happy to help with either one.

Advantages of pre-planning:
Time to shop around (do you rally want to take six weeks examining all option while Mother decomposes?).

Time to take family wishes into consideration (do they want a body to view or a grave? will a memorial service suffice?).

Communicates to the family what your wishes REALLY are (ever sit in a room with six people who knew EXACTLY what Mother wanted, but six completely different ideas are espoused? every try to get a group of people to reach the same decision? yes, it is as bad as a jury deliberation).

Takes financial stress off of survivors...a pre-paid funeral is paid for at time of death.

A few other things to keep in mind.
Most funeral service providers have policies about embalming a body that is put out for viewing. There are health and ascetic aspects to this (bodies break down quickly after death, especially at room temperature. more so if the deceased was old or ill).

You can compare prices, but it is hard to compare services. The firms i have worked for go out of their way to help families. I have heard horror stories of providers that do the absolute least...cheaper and it shows in the service they provide.

Keep in mind that things such as pauper's caskets are not attractive. Going cheap is smart. Going tacky could be upsetting to those who survives.

A firm I used to work for took on the competition from store front casket shops. They matched prices on their caskets and jacked up the price of services. They also increased the price of cremation to make up the loss.

Finally, donation to a medical school or science lab is the least expensive way to go. Check the terms, but generally they cover transportation up to 100 mile, cremation, and placement in an unmarked memorial garden.

After this, direct cremation and direct burial are the least expensive.

With the above mentioned, usually your local church or place of worship can host a memorial service and visitation.

Good post. I am a CPA and financial planner that helps families save money on funeral goods and services.

Cremation is dirt cheap compared to a traditional funeral. And it's becoming very popular in the U.S.

Caskets for services can often be rented (with a new insert liner) for far less than the cost of purchasing one. Talk with your loved ones - make sure they know how you feel about this option - and then WRITE DOWN YOUR DECISIONS! People often forget, especially in a crisis.

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