The cost of funerals is rising much faster than the rate of inflation. The amount that people pay for their funeral ranges from $250 in the case of people who do a DIY funeral to over $6,000 for a full burial overseen by a funeral home. If you want to avoid paying over the odds for a funeral, here are five financial mistakes you may not realize you are making.
#1. Not Shopping Around
According to the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) a non-profit watchdog, when they do consumer surveys and ask people why they chose the funeral home they did, most people say that it was the one they used before or the one closest to their home. If you don’t phone around three, four or five funeral homes you have no idea whether the funeral home your family has been using for three generations is reasonably priced or whether they are taking you to the cleaners.
#2. Not Getting Price Quotes Over The Phone
The second biggest reason that people over pay for funerals is that they pay a visit in person instead of getting quotes over the phone. The Federal Trades Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rules protects you as a funeral shopper and give you consumer rights. These rules state that funeral homes are obliged to give you full price quotes over the phone. Funeral home mangers know that as soon as you walk through the door of their premises you are influenced by their atmosphere and décor and making an emotional decision, not a financial one.
#3. Not Asking For An Itemized Price List At The Beginning Of The Discussion
Funeral home managers who have wised up to the FTC rules are fond of employing another tactic. They low-ball the quote over the phone and then give people the hard sell when they come for the initial consultation. People are obviously in an emotional state and easily swayed in their judgments. Many funeral shoppers don’t realize that FTC rules compel funeral homes to give consumers itemized price lists right at the beginning of the discussion. You must always ask for this so that homes cannot sway you into making expensive decisions outside of your budget.
#4. Only Pick and Choose The Services You Want
All funeral homes offer packages and funeral services but you aren’t obliged to choose one. The 1997 Connecticut Funeral Home Investigation found that while almost all funeral homes will volunteer a general pricelist, only two-thirds will give consumers a breakdown of the cost of each goods and service. For example, the FTC funeral rule allows cosmetology, hairdressing, reconstruction, dressing, spreading ashes and casketing to be listed as a single item. Consumers may only want dressing and casketing yet have to pay the set price for all of the services. Always check what you are getting and only pay for the services you want.
#5. Don’t Overlook Less Expensive Options
According to firm All State Cremation in Cheshire CT, a common way that people overspend is that they are unaware of cheaper alternatives available. According to the Connecticut investigation, a third of funeral homes fail to mention the less expensive options such as forgoing embalming (not required by Connecticut law), direct cremation. Not to forget about the cremation jewelry.
Richard Earnshaw, the author of this article, works with All State Cremation, providers of cremation spreading in Hamden, Connecticut. Richard enjoys playing golf and usually spends his weekends at the links.
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