Thinking about funerals can be a highly emotional subject and that is precisely why funerals can be so expensive. One does not have to be a highly logical person or a penny pincher to think about savings when the cost of a funeral is considered. There are several avenues that can be taken and even the most emotionally fragile person can save money when it comes to funeral expenses. There are several things to take into consideration before getting to the more practical aspects of reducing the cost of a funeral.
Foremost in the equation is who is going to plan the funeral and who the funeral is for. Even though pre-planning a funeral has been an option for several decades now, to the general population, it is surprising how many people can be squeamish about the idea; therein lies the crux. If a person cannot accept the notion that they will die one day regardless of how much they don’t want to, how can that person be expected to plan their own funeral. There are several ways this issue can be side-stepped in such a way that it does not upset the person whose funeral is being planned for.
If a child wishes to pre-plan a funeral for a parent, they can start by planning their own. Once this has been accomplished they can in a matter of fact way approach their parent and explain what they have done so that “if anything should happen” the rest of the family will know that decisions have already been made. Time can be taken to go over the plan which will open the door to a general discussion with the parent about preferences and costs. If the discussion upsets the parent the child can point out how much more upsetting it would be if the parent were forced to plan for the child instead.
For some people it might take several conversations over a period of time to get everything out in the open. Once the conversation flows more naturally it will be easier to simply ask a parent what they think would be nice to have at their funeral. For those people who respond with “it won’t matter then what I want”, that is a good time to ask if money has been set aside to cover the expense. That in turn opens the door to cover the average cost of a funeral and the tendency of funeral directors to lean toward a full package deal to grieving family members. Of course there are always levels of packages and it depends on the circumstances and emotional state of the family if they will make a purchase they can afford or if they let emotions hike up the final costs. Once it has been determined that pre-planning is not a terrible idea, then more steps can be taken to reduce the overall expenses.
There are several approaches that can be made to cover funeral costs. For many decades there have been funeral insurance plans available which will kick in when needed and generally will cover the cost of an average funeral. When looking into these plans it is important to read the fine print and clarify if the insurance policy covers only the funeral or if it covers the burial as well. The same companies that will sell life insurance will also sell funeral insurance and usually on a term plan for a specific dollar amount. People who had the forethought to purchase such a plan might be surprised to learn that the amount they thought sufficient at the time will be significantly insufficient when the time comes to cash in the policy. Look for a company that deals only in funeral plans and find one that will cover any overage necessary when needed. These plans are sometimes limited and specific to a preference for cremation.
If buying a funeral insurance policy doesn’t fit the bill then setting money aside in a special savings account, CD’s or bonds can be considered. It will be important that these accounts can be accessed by more than the account holder. Generally listing a beneficiary is sufficient to meet the need; naturally the benefactor needs to be made aware of the account and the purpose for which the funds are to be used.
Other considerations when thinking about the funeral process include the tradition bound issue of cut flowers or live plants. The ostentatious display at some funerals may denote a well loved or respected individual and yet that same money could have been sent to a favorite charity and had a much bigger impact on the lives of the living. Keep in mind that transporting flowers and plants from the funeral home and then sometimes to a church and then on to the burial site all adds up. The package might say that this cost is included but just how much more does that increase the total?
When the overall expenses of a funeral are considered it does not generally include the cost of family members to travel in from out of town, the cost in time lost from a job (generally, most work places allow for these contingencies), the cost of burial, and it most certainly does not include the cost of the burial site itself. Pre-planning is without a doubt the best way to reduce the cost of a funeral. Thinking about this need everyone has to face eventually is better done sooner than later. Thinking about and then actually doing something is the best plan of action.
Far too many families have had to deal with a sudden death which resulted in a huge outpouring of both grief and money in the process of dealing with the remains of a family member. Some people can’t fathom planning their own funeral much less that of a child’s. Some families today can’t even save for college or retirement. Considering that death is a sure thing in everyone’s life, it seems reasonable to give a little thought to that process and make some plans for its eventuality. That in itself could go a long way to reducing the cost of a funeral.