Living is expensive but dying is even costlier. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that funeral prices have been rising nearly twice as fast as the cost of other consumer goods. From December 1986 to September 2017, funeral expenses rose 227.1 percent, while prices for all items rose 123.4 percent.
You can blame the cost of limos, flowers and so forth for the rising price of dying but, according to the BLS, coffins are the biggest offender. From December 1986 to September 2017, producer prices for caskets increased more than twice as fast as producer prices for all commodities, increasing 230 percent from December 1986 to September 2017, while producer prices for all commodities increased 95.1 percent.
What to do
So what’s the solution? Obviously, staying alive is one but that only goes so far. The insurance industry would say that having a life insurance policy adequate to cover your “final expenses” is the answer. Could be, but maybe a better solution is to cut unnecessary funeral expenses and leave the insurance proceeds and your other assets to your family. They can make better use of the money than the casket company.
The simplest way to do that is cremation. The average cost of what is called a “direct cremation” is $1,100, according to the Cremation Research Council. Funeral homes and standalone crematories provide direct cremation, which typically does not include a coffin, embalming, visitation or funeral service.
You can still have a service at a church, synagogue, mosque or funeral home, with or without displaying an urn or other container. You can also have a memorial service just about anywhere you like — a house of worship, a favorite bar or restaurant or in a park or community center. The cost of any of these options will be far less than you would pay for a traditional funeral, complete with embalming, ornate casket, concrete vault, burial, viewing, limos to and from the cemetery and so forth.
All of this looks good but it doesn’t bring back the deceased and, with the typical full-service funeral costing $7,400, it far too often drains the bank accounts of the survivors.
Omit the obit
Lest we fail to mention it, you can also save big bucks by eliminating the paid obituary. Newspapers are starved for cash these days and are taking it out on the families of their deceased subscribers. It routinely costs hundreds of dollars to place an obit in a local newspaper.
You can write your own obit and place it on our site, on Facebook and other social media sites for nothing. If you need help writing it, let us know. We’ll help you. With all due respect to our ink-stained brothers, newspapers are important but more people read social media and other web-based media these days.