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During this difficult time, it is important to keep in mind the following tips:

1.  It's a business:  Remember that individuals in this industry make their money by selling products and services.  Some are more aggressive and pushy than others, but they all have a vested interest in selling you as much as they can.  When arranging services for your lost loved one, it is important that you treat individuals in this industry like any other sales people.  Ask lots of questions and only purchase what you believe is right for you and your loved one. 

2. Only buy what you need: 

  • Only have open casket "viewing" if it is important to you and your family because it can add considerably to your cost.

  • Embalming and sealed caskets are not necessary and add additional costs.

  • You can find a casket for any budget, but be true to yourself and don't spend more than you believe is needed.  Remember that a casket is never seen again once buried and you should not be pressured into "getting your loved one the best".  Does your loved one really care?

  • Consider cremation. It's much more affordable with the cost of cremations typically under $900.  Rather than buying an urn from the funeral home, you can also have the remains provided in a box for you to place in your own urn or to have the ashes "scattered" in the ocean, lake or other place of significance.

3.  Always bring someone with you: Always have someone else with you when making arrangements with a funeral home, preferably a friend...someone that's not as emotionally attached as you and your family members.

4.  Look into getting a casket yourself: The Federal Trade Commission has passed rules that make it possible for families to provide the casket to the funeral parlor/cemetery instead of forcing the consumer to purchase it from the funeral home or cemetery. And since the average mark-up on a casket can run anywhere from 300% - 500%, this is a tremendous cost savings opportunity for consumers.

The cemetery must accept delivery of the casket if you're providing the casket yourself, and don't let them charge you extra fees if you bring your own casket, headstones or gravemarkers. Wrong! That's illegal.  Please see the Federal Trade Commission's web site for more on this as well as other helpful information to help you become an informed consumer. 

5. Consider placing the obituary yourself: Many funeral homes will charge you as much as 3 times the actual cost of placing an obituary.

6. Get a price list from the funeral home: It's an FTC rule that every funeral home provide you with a price list upon request.  Be sure to compare pricing of funeral homes owned by separate companies.  With the number of funeral homes being purchased by major corporations, it's important to get fair price comparisons.

7. Don't let the funeral home know where you are getting the money to pay for services:   Many consumers have funeral or burial insurance policies.  Many of these policies come in $5,000 and $10,000 face values.  There is absolutely no reason for the funeral home to know how much you have to spend or where the money is coming from.  Always remember, they are in a sales business.