In this article we’re going to talk about funeral expenses and how to get a handle on them so they don’t eat you alive.
There is an old joke that goes “the only thing certain in life is death and taxes.” Obviously whoever made that remark never got to meet a rich man with more tax loopholes than the United States has illegal immigrants. But one thing in life is certain and that’s death. And with that certain death are the certain expenses that come with it.
Over the years funeral expenses have skyrocketed to the point where the average family literally can’t afford to die. Well, there is a way to get a handle on your funeral expenses and that is the focus of this article.
You may or may not know this but there are over 20,000 funeral homes in the United States accounting for over $25 billion in revenue annually. That money doesn’t come from cheap funerals. It comes from expenses that are insane when you think about the actual service being provided.
There are actually three corporations that dominate the industry; SCI, Stewart and the Loewen Group. These three giants account for about 15% of the total funeral business in the United States. The reason you probably haven’t heard of them is because when they buy up a funeral home they usually keep the old funeral home’s name in order to give the impression of a small family owned business. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. And because they have basically taken hold of the industry, they can charge whatever they like for funeral services. How much?
Let’s take a metal casket. If you take the cost of a metal casket, materials and labor, the casket actually only costs about $450 to $700 to make. This same casket is sold to families for about $3,000. That’s well over a 400% markup. If any other industry tried to get away with this they’d be shut down.
But the insane costs don’t stop there. A hearse that costs about $25 an hour to rent will be billed at a rate of about $200 per hour. Flowers that cost about $25 are sold for about $150. The clergy will charge you a couple of hundred bucks for his services. Then there’s the burial itself. Opening the grave costs money as does lowering the body into the ground. By the time you’re done a simple no frills funeral can cost you close to $10,000. The actual physical cost of the services provided to you are maybe $2,000.
What is a poor family to do?
The best way to get a handle on expenses is to actually get as little from the funeral home as you can. For example, there is no law that says you have to get a casket from the funeral home. Try going to a wholesaler or online. You can get a very good deal on caskets and save hundreds of dollars.
The same with the flowers and hearse. Go to an outside florist for your flower arrangements and to a private rent a car company for your hearse and limos. Most likely you will end up saving lots of money there too.
As for the cemetery expenses, there isn’t much you can do about that. But by saving money in other areas your $10,000 funeral can be knocked down to $8,000 or even $7,000. The disadvantage is that you’re going to have to do a lot of work on your own that the funeral home would have normally done for you. But if saving money is your first priority then this is the way to go.