Most people are completely blindsided when a loved one dies and have little to no prior knowledge about how to plan a funeral. Sadly, there is an entire industry built around taking advantage of families’ grief and inexperience with death. But your family doesn’t have to fall prey to one of these scams. Here are 6 funeral planning secrets to help your family save money.
The Most Important Funeral Planning Secret: You Are Allowed to Shop Around
Think about it, you shop around when you buy anything else, from wedding dresses to cars to houses and appliances. However, funeral homes have tricked families into thinking that they aren’t allowed to shop around for their loved one’s casket, vault, and headstone. This allows funeral homes to charge whatever they want for basic funeral goods, which can end up costing your family an arm and a leg. Most families don’t know that they have other options besides buying directly from the funeral home.
This is where buying a casket online comes in. Most people don’t know that they can buy a casket online at a more affordable price. But don’t worry! Oftentimes, you hear the phrase “buy online” and immediately imagine a Wish.com-style scam where you are charged full price, but the item you receive isn’t even remotely what you ordered. If you have concerns about how to safely buy a casket online, here is a handy guide to protect yourself from scams.
There are several benefits to buying a casket online, such as:
- You get to shop around
- It allows you to compare prices
- You can do research on the product.
- Shopping online also allows you to take your time without being rushed into a decision by an overbearing sales person.
- You can send links to friend and family members to easily get their input.
For example, when you compare prices at Overnight Caskets, you will find that our basic caskets, wooden cremation caskets are under $700. Whereas, at a funeral home, the same casket would likely be sold for at least $1,300. If you want an affordable wood casket that is just a step up - like for a viewing - then you can expect to pay between $995 and $1,100. However, if you were to buy the same casket at a funeral home, they would probably charge you at least $2,000.
This is why it pays to shop around when you buy a casket for your loved one. You won’t realize that you are being overcharged unless you have something to compare it to. When you buy a casket online, you are free to compare prices and take your time to do research without a pushy sales person trying to upsell you.
Funeral Secret #2: More Expensive is Not Always Better
It is a very common notion that the more expensive an item, the better it is. This can be true in some cases; however, usually the price does not reflect the quality. Rather, the price can reflect the demand for the item, the need to cover production costs, or what the seller thinks someone will pay for it.
This is especially true when it comes to caskets. Most people are told that a more expensive casket is a better one, therefore they should always go for the more expensive casket in order to get the best item. Most funeral homes perpetuate this funeral planning secret in order to upsell you by playing the “it’s what they would have wanted” card.
Here’s what you need to know about the prices of caskets: when you buy a casket online at Overnight Caskets, the quality is the same across the board. The simple cremation caskets are just as high quality as the elaborate caskets. The simple ones just have fewer features, so they are more affordable. When you buy a casket online, the quality is guaranteed, so you shouldn’t spend more out of fear of getting a sub-par casket.
When you spend more money on a casket, what you are really paying for is extra features and decorations. For some people, the best way to honor their life is with a simple casket that reflects their values. Other people go for more elaborate caskets if their loved one was known for enjoying the finer things in life. Don’t think about using the cost of the casket to show how much you loved someone; instead, pick out a casket that reflects their values and how they lived their life.
In short, the more expensive casket isn’t always the better one. When quality is guaranteed, the best casket for your loved one is the casket that honors their beliefs, reflects their lifestyle, and matches their personality.
Funeral Secret #3: You Don’t Actually Need All the Funeral Home Package Extras
One of the main ways that funeral homes make their money is to sell grieving families on expensive packages that include everything from embalming to frilly decorations. The truth is that you probably don’t need all that. Most families find that the funeral is more about being together and saying goodbye, and not about how expensive and fancy all the extras are.
Funeral directors may tell you that you need to purchase a package in order to have a funeral. Here’s the funeral planning secret: you don’t. If you don’t want to buy a $10,000 package that includes a casket and a handful of other accessories, you don’t have to. Nor do you have to pay for embalming.
Another way that funeral directors up-charge families is with embalming packages. Embalming is basically a process that preserves the body and makes it look more life-like for the benefit of the family members during a viewing. While many funeral directors will spout the line that embalming is required by law, it actually isn’t in most cases. Embalming is only required in certain states if the body is transported over state lines, if the body is buried 24 to 48 hours after death, or if the local cemetery requires it.
Unless you are transporting your loved one’s body to a different state, you probably don’t need to embalm them. It may be necessary to research your state and local laws surrounding embalming before you make a decision on it. However, not embalming means that bodies will look and smell a little different. While this can be alarming to some family members, this is a natural part of life and death.
One of the best ways to save money while planning a funeral is to decline embalming. Not only will it make the funeral more affordable, you will feel better knowing that your loved one isn’t pumped full of chemicals.
Tip #4 For Saving Money on a Funeral: Buy Funeral Items Online
It isn’t just caskets that you can buy online; Overnight Caskets also sells burial vaults and headstones. Funeral homes are also notorious for marking up the costs of burial vaults and headstones when families come in to make arrangements. If they don’t get you on the casket, they may get you on the vault.
One reason that funeral homes get away with overcharging so much for burial vaults is because most people don’t really understand what a burial vault is. A vault is essentially a concrete box that gets buried with the casket and surrounds it. Vaults are designed to protect the casket from the elements and prevent the ground above the casket from sinking. Some cemeteries require vaults and some don’t; you will need to check with your local cemetery to see what their policies on vaults are.
For more information on vaults and how to buy a burial vault online, please check out this post.
The best way to save money when planning a funeral is to consider buying all your funeral items online. Overnight Caskets sells high-quality burial vaults for only $1,395, which is half the price of what funeral homes charge for vaults. Similarly, Overnight Caskets’ sister company Signature Headstones sells high-quality, affordable headstones online. This is another area where funeral homes will try to upsell you. The truth is that you don’t need to pay several thousand dollars for a quality headstone.
For example, flat markers start at $215 and come in 12 different sizes and 10 different colors, making it easy to find an affordable headstone that honors your loved one. Pillow headstones start at $589 and slanted headstones start at $794, giving you a variety of options that fit your budget.
Funeral Planning Secrets You Should Know #5: The FTC Funeral Rule
A very common question that families ask is, “how do I know that the funeral home will accept items that I bought online?” The answer is the FTC Funeral Rule, which states that:
- Consumers have the right to see a general price list from a funeral provider when they go to make arrangements.
- Families have the right to choose with goods and services they want, except in cases where certain items are mandated by state law
- The funeral home must accept any outside funeral items without charging an added handling fee.
- These rules apply whether a consumer is inquiring about pricing, pre-planning, or making arrangements at the time of need.
The FTC Rule protects families from being misled and overcharged at funeral homes. Oftentimes funeral directors will discourage families from buying caskets, vaults, and tombstones online because these items are their biggest money makers. However, you have a legal right to purchase funeral items from a third party vendor; doing so can save you thousands of dollars and cut the cost of the funeral in half.
Funeral Planning Secret #6: There is No Wrong Way to Grieve or Hold a Funeral
Many funeral directors and sales people use the line “it’s what they would have wanted” when trying to upsell you on more expensive caskets. However, spending a lot of money isn’t the only way to express grief that they are gone. One misconception about funerals is that more money spent on a loved one’s service equates to more love for them. This is not true at all. The truth is that there are many ways to grieve and to hold a funeral. Certain types of funerals doesn’t mean that they were loved any less.
They may not be talked about as much, but funerals are as personal as weddings and birthday parties. The same way that a small, intimate wedding might be right for certain couples, a smaller, more simple funeral can be right for certain loved ones. In some cases, families choose burial in a simple wood box and use the money that they saved on the arrangements to visit their loved one’s favorite place. Other families prefer to hold large funerals with plenty of food for everyone, where friends and family members can come together and swap stories.
There is no right way to have a funeral. Whether your family chooses to go simple, fancy, in between, or whether you opt for an alternative funeral such as natural burial, there is no wrong way to say goodbye. The purpose of a funeral is to meet your family’s emotional needs, not to line a funeral director’s pockets.
The takeaway is to not let anyone shame you about the size of funeral you arrange for your loved one. The best way to honor them isn’t by spending lots of money, it’s by giving them a funeral that matches their values and how they lived their life.
Contact Overnight Caskets to Learn More
If you have questions about buying a casket online or navigating our website, please feel free to contact Overnight Caskets at any time. We are available 24/7 via phone, email, or chatbot. If you are ready to start comparing prices and shopping around for a casket, check out our easy to use online catalog.