Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comparing costs

I took yesterday from work (with Bereavement pay) so that I could go with my mom to the funeral home for the arrangements. My grandparents prepaid for their cremation services way back in 1987! All the decisions as to what they wanted done were made back then and paid for. Talk about making it easy on us yesterday. Basically all my mom had to do was sign some papers, pay some sales tax on the whole deal and for 2 copies of the death certificate.  Grandma will be cremated and the funeral  home will place her urn in the Abbey at the cemetery with my grandpa's urn. She did not want formal services. Again - a simple death for simple folks.

It's a bit interesting comparing costs then and now and also just the differences in costs between funeral homes! My grandparents each paid $800 back in 1987 for their future cremation.  Twenty-five years later, this same cremation service at this particular funeral home now cost over $2200. BUT, this funeral home is apparently one of the highest priced in our area. I recall 3 years ago, when my mom had to take care of my dad's cremation it was around $700-800. In doing a little research this morning I was able to find a website that compares the costs of a simple cremation between the various places here in my town/surrounding area. It ranges from $520 on up to the $2200 the funeral home my grandma used.

The funeral home my mom used for my dad was very nice and the woman was extremely nice and professional, who made the arrangements. This guy who went through the paperwork with us for my grandma was a bit of a flake and even though he said he's been doing this for 14 years, he seemed nervous and wasn't very somber, given the circumstances. It still took him an hour for her to sign like 4 papers. I honestly don't recall being at the funeral home that long for my dad's cremation arrangements, and his wasn't pre-arranged. So, the extreme differences in the 2 funeral home prices was definitely an eye opener.

So, strictly financial wise, my grandparents would have been much better off to not prepay their cremation as they could have gotten it cheaper now, by choosing a cheaper funeral home/crematory. then the $800 each they prepaid for 25 years ago. They could have put that money in a savings account, CD, or something earmarked for funeral and come out ahead.  Though on the other hand, it was very nice to have it all decided and taken care of. 

Don't even get me started on what it costs to have an obituary put in the newspaper! It will be about $450 and my mom is paying for this. I really don't get her reason for wanting to do it and spend that kind of money, other than apparently she just wants a copy of it from the newspaper! There is really no one my grandma knows who will see it or it needs to be announced to. She has outlived her few friends, there is just our small family (most not in this area) and her caretaker and we already know about it. It's not like there are people out in the community to notify of the death or service (not) being held. If she just wants a copy of it from the newspaper, than I don't know why she just didn't do it in the smaller local paper for about 1/3 of the cost. Doesn't make sense to me, but if she needs it, then that's ok, too.


  1. I think it's hard to quantify the "why" of things like the obituary - it may just feel right to your mom, because in the past, that's the way most people communicated this kind of news.

    So sorry again to hear about your loss.

    1. Just found out the obit "only" ended up costing $360. The funeral director had estimnated it to be $450 and when I used the newspaper's info to estimate I came up with the same. I think you are right - it's just the way her generation and before her always communicated news and they always seem to read the obituaries ;)