My job is in the field of funeral accounting. That means I provide financial planning services and act as a CPA for families who are organizing a funeral in and around Melbourne Australia. Funerals aren’t getting any cheaper, even though the economy remains soft, and a lot of people face significant financial challenges. I provide vital assistance by helping people pay for funerals in responsible ways.
If the full expense of a typical funeral is lumped together as a single sum, it rivals the size of the most expensive purchases most families ever make. It’s not as costly as a car or a home, but it’s on the same order of magnitude. In my experience, there’s no reason funerals have to be so expensive because there are plenty of opportunities to reduce costs.
If you’re wondering how funerals and cremations have become so expensive, look no further than the basic principles of supply and demand. A funeral is one service that we’re all going to have to pay for eventually. Demographics ensures that the funeral business is expanding, too. The population blip caused by the baby boomers is getting older, and this translates into a higher death rate for the US as a whole.
Put it all together and you have an awful lot of business flowing into your local funeral home. It’s a service that virtually every family will use. There are some novel alternative solutions (e.g. donating your body for research purposes) but their overall share of the market is tiny.
If there’s one silver lining to be found in the funeral business, it’s the fact that people’s need for funerals doesn’t come up very often. The average spacing between funerals in any given family is fifteen years. This reduces the financial strain of funeral planning, but it also has potential drawbacks. Very few people plan in advance for funerals, especially when it comes to gathering the necessary financial resources. Most families don’t even have the roughest idea of the different services that are required to bid a deceased family member farewell — or what prices are reasonable for these services.
Unlike grieving families, funeral directors have a very clear idea of what is and is not required for a funeral, and no one knows better what the true costs are. This is not to imply that Greenhaven funeral directors Melbourne treat their customers unscrupulously. The worst they are guilty of is overstating the necessity of certain funeral purchases. Families dealing with a recent loss are rarely in a mood to ask questions or even hang on to a sense of what they can and can not afford. Most, unfortunately, a lot of families in this situation neglect to inquire about less expensive alternatives that might be available to them.
This is when I can step in and start helping a family. As a funeral director, I know just about all there is to know about the different options available to a family planning a funeral. I even have a fair idea of price differences between different funeral homes. My work isn’t paid for on a commission, so my clients know I don’t benefit in any from the choices they make. This makes my advice that much more trustworthy, and most people are grateful to be presented with affordable funeral options.
There’s just one problem with my profession: There aren’t enough people in it. Many families can’t find a funeral account when they need one. I’ve accumulated a lot of experience over the years, and it’s broadly applicable to any family coping with a recent death. So I decided it was high time to record it and share it with the people who need it.
If I had to put the most useful funeral-planning advice I know into a single sentence, here’s what it would be. Find out about all of the options and all of the prices offered by all of the funeral homes in your community. Each home will have a different slate of services, and pricing models can vary widely between different homes. The separation between the least and most expensive funeral services in your town are likely to be greater (perhaps much greater) than 100%.
Once the reality of death in the family hits home, a lot of people react in a predictable fashion. They phone either the funeral home that’s geographically closest to them or the last funeral home where they attended a service. This is not the right way to choose your funeral home!
While I mentioned earlier that most funeral directors aren’t unscrupulous, I’m afraid the same can’t be said for everyone in their industry. In the last few years, major funeral home chains have been quietly buying up independent homes all over the country. Their first order of business is raising prices significantly, and they get away with it because consumers in this particular market are so unlikely to comparison shop.
As a general rule of thumb, you should start your hunt for a funeral home by carefully reviewing the services and pricing offered by at least three homes. If you want to cut the cost of your funeral by thousands of dollars, you can often do it simply by making a comparison like this. If you’d like to explore other financial options and get accurate pricing information for your local community, make sure to visit our page.