Two weeks ago I wrote a post titled 5 Financial Considerations of Death. That was a day before my grandmother passed away. The funeral was this past Tuesday, and she’ll finally be at peace.

During the planning of all the funeral arrangements and the like I realized just how expensive death can be for the family members. When my dad passed away I really didn’t pay much attention to it. There’s just so much going on that you can get caught up in it all. I decided I had to write this post to help others as they go through the process, thus these 5 ideas.

1. Don’t start planning the funeral on the same day as someone passes away. This may not seem like a financial tip but it is, as it goes along the same type of tip as when you’re told not to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Your mind might not be on details and thus you might start agreeing to everything the funeral director or others puts in front of you, and it can get pretty pricey.

2. Don’t overspend on caskets. In general there are two types of caskets; wood and metal. No matter how they’re styled up, they essentially only do one thing; you know what that is. These funeral directors will prey on your grief in a way, especially if you have to pick out a casket in person. There’s no shame in getting a casket on the low end of the spectrum; don’t feel guilty that you’re not spending a few thousand on one.

3. Don’t overspend on the vault. The vault is the thing you see at the cemetery before they begin lowering the body into the ground. It can range from just under $1,000 to way over $15,000. Once again, stay under $2,000, probably under $1,500, because they all look pretty nice, although I have to say that the least expensive one did look cheap, made out of concrete. They’ll go for stark differences in look to trap you; don’t fall for it.

4. Verify the costs from the cemetery as well. There will be costs for digging the grave, continuing maintenance, headstones, etc. The funeral director will offer to find out all these costs for you, then have you pay them so they can pay the cemetery. This may or may not be legit depending on where you live, but it doesn’t hurt, if you think the costs seem a bit high, to contact the cemetery on your own to verify the prices.

5. Church costs will be separate. If the deceased was a member of the church costs will be relatively low, possibly having no costs at all. If you didn’t belong to a church be prepared for some fairly steep fees, although they’re still lower than anything you’ll be paying the funeral home. If you don’t have a lot of money keep it simple; no choir, no repast, no video (yes, some churches videotape the services now and give you a DVD copy of it). If you really don’t have the cash then have a short service at the grave site instead; then you only have to pay the reverend for his/her time.

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