In an age when everyone is trying to cut back on their expenditures, it might seem like a good idea to reduce funeral costs by choosing a discount funeral home. Traditional funerals can be quite expensive—particularly if no advance funeral arrangements were made—and the stress associated with paying for a burial among the rest of the emotional toll death takes can rapidly push a family over the edge.
Discount funeral homes exist to provide a lower-cost alternative to families who want to save money on planning a funeral. They exist in large part because funeral homes have become so corporatized in the past few decades. Discount funeral homes found a niche market among these corporations, where discounts and great customer service drive sales.
This can be good news for consumers. As is the case with any type of free market like this, funeral homes competing with one another to lower prices, provide better service, and increase your options means that you have more freedom of choice. But how far is too far?
For some families, that answer is when discount funeral homes begin to cut back on some of the more time-honored traditions that bring comfort to grieving families.
Discount Funeral Homes
Discount funeral homes take on a variety of formats. Sometimes they operate just like a regular funeral home, but with lower prices than you’ll find at other facilities in your area. Other times, they don’t provide services on site, instead offering to coordinate a funeral from your home or a church facility. Other options include separate funeral directors and companies sharing a facility or providing only a baseline of services that require you to purchase things like caskets and other amenities from a warehouse or third-party provider. You might also find that a discount funeral home is rolled into a green funeral home, where services take on an entirely different format.
Your level of comfort with each of these types of options is entirely up to you—and legal restrictions in your area. Funeral directors must be licensed in order to operate in all fifty of the United States, and they must adhere to local safety and sanitation regulations regarding proper burial or cremation. Before you make any decisions regarding which funeral home to choose, be sure and look at their licensing and reputation.
You must also consider where your money is going. In a traditional funeral home (one owned by a larger corporation), a large portion of the profits go to a parent company located in another state. By cutting out the middle man with a smaller, discount funeral home, you are simply ensuring that your money stays local. At the same time, if you find that the quality of services is lower, you have every right to decide that the discount option isn’t right for you.
A discount funeral can be a great way to save money…but it can also make a difficult situation worse. Because planning a funeral is one of the most personalized, difficult challenges you’ll ever undergo, you should always your research ahead of time and ask questions to ensure that you feel comfortable with the way things are proceeding.