If you made it through the Funeral Options
section, you now know there's more to this than
just sitting down with a funeral director and saying, "Let me have what you think I need." Truth is, most families can save $2,000 or more just by doing a little comparison shopping and phoning around, but the real savings comes from getting out and seeing what's out there, and negotiating for your best price.
The other simple truth is: most of us don't have the time when a death occurs, and few bother to research before hand.
Don't dispair, there's help available in several forms.
In response to the popularity of the book "The Affordable Funeral"
we harkened to suggestions from readers and can now offer a software
program for family funeral planning. Going In Style is
simplicity personified; you Load it, Plan it, Price it and Print it.
Simply fill in the information on the screens then print a finished copy.
You will want to send copies of the first page ... which tells what you have
planned and where to FIND these plans in your house ... to several family and
neighbors. The program
includes a searchable index that covers everything from notification to the
epitaph on the monument ... as well as what you wish be done with any houseplants and pets!
For more information and sample pages from the program, click the Order Software button
to the right of the page.
FUNERAL & MEMORIAL SOCIETIES
Funeral and Memorial Societies are non-profit local organizations that collect prices lists from funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries periodically, and some even negotiate with these for better prices for their membership. The down sides of these are, some of them get lazy and don't keep their price lists current, some have been co-opted by funeral homes and even operate out of a funeral home, and less than 1/10th of 1% of people in North America belong to one.
If you'd like to start a local society, contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) which replaced FAMSA, the Funeral And Memorial Societies of America, several years ago. These are worthwhile if the membership actually does the leg work and recruits enough members to make it in the local death-care industry's best interest to do business with them.
A sad fact, however, is that few DO the necessary work. Of nine such societies investigated, five had price lists so out of date some were from the 1970s, three were being operated out of a funeral home, and two were not accepting new members. Hopefully these problems are a thing of the past, but check into it just in case.
This is a relatively new wrinkle in the industry, and one we're working hard to foster. A funeral consultant is someone who, on their own, goes out and does all the things a good memorial society should do. They keep their data current, negotiate with the individual businesses for better prices for their clients, offer alternate sources for funerary goods like caskets, outer containers, urns, monuments, flowers, etc. They charge a fee for their services, but generally save the family several times that fee.
This is not easy work considering the number of cemeteries, funeral homes, florists, and crematories. Also considering the fact that, initially at least, the funeral consultant will be viewed by the industry as a threat to profits, which indeed he or she is. Once the consultant has built a client base, however, the death-care industry will start to make overtures like "Send me your clients and I'll knock $500 off our non-declineable fee.", or "If you bring me your clients, we'll let them have pre-need prices even when at-need." Both of these have happened and it bodes well for the families. How often this happens will depend on how much business the consultant can generate.
Funeral consulting is not a get-rich-quick sort of thing. Those involved realize that, until they've built a client base and gotten word of their services out to the masses, it can be a lonely job. Ideally, funeral consultants should be mature, dedicated, and honestly concerned about people in general. Dealing with families at one of the low points of their lives is not easy, is rarely fun, and takes a special person.
If you, or someone you know, would be interested in learning more about starting a consumer's funeral consulting operation, Click HERE and read through the information. This is a work-from-home business that can earn a decent living, and is ideal for retired persons, single parents, and the physically challenged. The intangibles of the business are what make it worthwhile, like making new friends and the warm feeling that you've actually helped a family begin healing by limiting their financial burden.
A word of caution; there are some funeral homes owned by one of the large conglomerates that pose as funeral consultants. Make sure the person you are dealing with is a Consumer's consultant and not just another death-care industry salesman. There is a national organization calling themselves 'certified funeral consultants' who primarily offer their services to funeral homes rather than to families. The Funeral Help Program's Certified Funeral Consultants (CFC) are family-oriented and its members undergo training in all facets of the business. They also offer a simple guarantee for their services, "We'll save you at least triple our fee, or our services are Free!", making their use risk-free.
Next: Last Things First