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Tips On How To Save On Funeral Costs

Funerals are events that you don't usually talk about around the dinner table, but when a loved one dies, the conversation becomes necessary and you have to deal with it.

It is very important that you take the steps to protect your family by planning ahead for an event that is surely to come, death and the funeral expenses that come with it, whether it's for you or for your loved ones. Funerals can get expensive and if you don't have cash on hand, the right amount of life insurance, or a rich uncle, you may get a double whammy, the death of a loved one and then not having enough money to bury them the way you would like.

It's a good idea to look into the costs of funeral arrangements before that dreaded day comes. This includes determining the type of service you want, the items you want in your funeral package, and learning the cost of each item. Having an idea of what a funeral will cost can be an enlightening experience and it will give you the impetus to start planning so you can be financially prepared when that time comes.

Funeral expenses cover such items as fees for a funeral director, an officiate, pick up of the body, embalming, obituaries, filing death certificates, announcements, clothing, flowers, viewing location, grave site, grave liner, vault, monument or marker, casket, urn, cremation, family cars, motorcycle escorts, food, and other services.

Below is a list of 12 tips for saving money on funeral expenses.

1. Start preparing now because death comes, in many cases, very sudden and without warning. It is a good idea to begin by doing a little comparison shopping. Visit local funeral homes or have one of their representatives come to your home to talk about the cost of their services and your plans and options. Talk to friends and relatives who have lost loved ones about the costs they incurred.

2. If you don't have a life insurance policy, get one as soon as possible. A $10,000 life insurance policy, per person, should be enough to cover burial expenses. There are several types of insurance policies to choose from such as whole life, term life, universal life, and pre need insurance. Talk to an insurance agent or a funeral director and purchase a policy that you can afford. Keep in mind that insurance agents are in business to make money and the higher the dollar amount of the policy, the more they make on commission. Don't let them talk you into getting more insurance than you need.

3. When a loved one dies, it is very easy to let your emotions take control of your senses. Now is the time to think things through. Ask someone you trust to help you choose a funeral home, go with you to make the arrangements, and to make sure the costs remain reasonable and within your comfort zone. Remember, just because you have an insurance policy or some extra money don't mean you have to spend it all on the funeral services.

4. A caskets is one of the biggest funeral expenses you will incur. Not all caskets are made the same and the costs are based on criteria such as the name brand, model, color, the interior trimmings, and the materials they are made from. You don't have to purchase your casket from the funeral home whose markups are very high. You can buy caskets from storefront casket stores, online sites, independent makers, and from Costco, WalMart, and other warehouse stores. You have several options when buying a casket so shop around for the best prices.

5. Cremation is very cost effective but they are not for everyone. Cremation is standard in certain religions and some people opt for this type of body disposal because they don't want their families to pay the costs associated with a traditional burial. Most cremations cost around a $1,000, but you should still make sure that you are not paying for services you don't need. An urn, which may cost around $500 or more at the crematorium, can be substituted for an inexpensive jar or wooden box.

6. Funeral directors are considered middlemen and may or may not be needed or used. Some states require them and other's don't. If you use a funeral director, he or she has to be paid. The same is true of officiates who are supplied by the funeral home. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a friend or relative who don't mind speaking in front of a crowd to officiate the ceremony. If you don't have to use them, don't, and it will be an expense you won't have to pay for.

7. Many people make the decision to bury a loved one as soon as possible. If a body is buried or cremated within three days of death, it does not have to be embalmed. Embalming fluids are a mixture of chemicals such as formaldehyde ,methanol, ethanol, dyes, and other preservatives that are used to slow the decomposition of a body. If a body is buried quickly, this is an expense that doesn't have to be paid to the funeral home. Embalming is not required by law.

8. You, a family member, or a friend can put together a funeral program. It doesn't have to be professionally printed on the best quality paper or filled with high gloss pictures. Many funeral homes will try to convince you that they can make your program look like a work of art. Actually they can, but it will cost you dearly. You can save money by writing your own program and taking it to a printer.

9. An obituary is an announcement of a person's death giving an account of their life. They are normally found in the obituary section of a local newspaper. Newspapers charge fees for printing obituaries and funeral homes charge fees for submitting them to the newspaper. You can go without an obituary, or if you want one, you can write it and submit it to the newspaper yourself, thereby saving the money you would pay the funeral home.

9. Dressing a deceased loved doesn't have to be expensive. Many people want their loved ones to be dressed in new clothes. If you have the money, that's fine, but you don't have to buy new clothes. Most people have nice clothes in their closet that they wear to church or special events. If you could ask them, they would probably tell you that they would like nothing better than to be buried in something they already own because they are clothes they feel comfortable in.

10. Some people want lots of flowers for their loved one's funeral, so they buy several floral arrangements. This can get very costly. Keep in mind that the flowers will be left at the grave site for a few days and then thrown away. A good way to save money is to buy living plants instead. They can be taken home to provide a living memorial for your loved one that can last for many years.

11. Funeral homes charge for open casket viewing. This is an expense that is geared towards personal preferences. Some people see an open casket as a way of saying a personal goodbye to a loved one while others find it a little unnerving and would rather have their last memories of the person when he or she was alive and well. Some funeral homes push an open casket because they can earn more from making the deceased more presentable. A closed casket event costs less to service and saves you money.

12. Family cars and escort services are an additional expense that can sometimes be avoided, especially if it is a small funeral and short distances are involved. But this is not always the case because sometimes close family members have to come from long distances and don't have a car or other means of transportation when they get to wherever the funeral is being held or their may be elderly or disabled individuals who can't drive. In this case, family cars may be needed to get to and from a funeral. And if the there is a long distance from the church or place of worship to the interment site and if there are time restraints, escorts may very well be needed. But if not, money can be saved by allowing people to go from the church service to the burial site on their own.

There are other ways to save on funeral expenses. You should try to keep an open mind and not get caught up in the moment. The death of a loved one can send you into an emotional tailspin and blur your ability to make wise decisions. That is why it is highly recommended that during this time, you surround yourself with family members, friends, or members of the clergy to help you navigate through this stressful time.

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