Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the funeral industry to take advantage of the stress and chaos surrounding a death by leading people to spend exorbitant amounts on a casket. For example, a Houston TV station found that some funeral homes were calling their caskets 'lowest priced' while still charging six times the wholesale price.
The purpose of a casket is to provide a resting place for the deceased while visitation and wakes are being held. Then, it serves as a means of transporting the body from the funeral home to the cemetery. There's no rule or law that says an ornate casket (or sometimes even any casket at all) is required for burial. Since it's only useful for such a short amount of time, you might decide that the casket is an area where you can comfortably spend less money.
Here's a brief guide on how to get the best price on a discount coffin, or find the most affordable coffin.
The Funeral Rule and Affordable Caskets
There's nothing wrong with buying the cheapest casket available. A key provision of the Funeral Rule is that mortuary staff are required to display the cheapest caskets in their brochures and on price lists. You can even find out this information by phoning them. They're required to tell you the price of their cheapest coffin, so you know whether or not you will have to look elsewhere.
The Funeral Rule also prohibits the funeral home from tying their service to the purchase of a casket. They can't charge a 'handling fee' or any other fee if you choose to use a casket purchased elsewhere.
When you're selecting a casket (either while pre-planning a funeral or at the time of a death) never forget that the funeral industry is an industry. Funeral homes want to sell you the casket with the highest markup in order to maximize their profit. Even companies and websites that supposedly offer low priced caskets will offer caskets in descending order of price, so that you have to drill down to get to the lower-priced models.
What You Should Spend
For a casket, you should spend whatever you feel comfortable with or are reasonably able to. You can spend as little as $250 for a very serviceable casket, complete with handles and finish. Don't be put off by as the stigma that these are considered 'cheap'. This is an up-selling technique commonly used in the funeral industry. The amount of love and respect you have for the deceased is in no way tied to the amount of money you spend on a casket.
Another technique used by funeral homes is displaying less expensive models in unflattering colors to make them look cheap; remember, the funeral home will have them repainted on request.
Affordable Casket Options
You don't have to break the bank to get a great casket. It's easier to shop around if you're pre-planning a funeral, but even if you're planning a funeral after a death, you can maximize your options. Some other affordable casket options include: