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Plan early, shop around for best deal on funeral

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Feb 12 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2012 08:51:15 AM CST

There's no denying it, death is a part of life. But preparing for the end isn't something most people like to think about.

READING, Pa. -

There's no denying it, death is a part of life.  But preparing for the end isn't something most people like to think about.

Still, there are things you can do to make that difficult time a little less stressful for your loved ones.

Too often the afterlife is an afterthought for many people. After all who wants to think about the end?

"It's something we don't like to talk about, but the reality of the matter is it is reality and we're all going to have to face that someday," said Kevin Bean, owner of Bean Funeral Homes and Crematory.

Planning your funeral is one way to ensure when it's time to say good bye you don't leave an unexpected surprise for your loved ones. In this economy that final expense can be expensive.

"Average price in the area $5,000," said Michael Feeney, owner of John P. Feeney Funeral Home.

"Most families spend between $4,000 and $9,000," said Bean.

In these lean and mean times, funeral homes just like many other businesses are trying to attract customers.

That's why whether you are driving or watching TV  you may notice funeral home ads offering bargain prices.

"They're not just looking for the cost," said Bean, "They're looking for what am I getting for what I'm spending."

With more than a dozen big funeral homes in Berks County there are lots of options for a traditional funeral.  About 35% of people opt for the most economical option.

"As a rule cremation is cheaper than burial," said Bean.

At the Bean Funeral Home in Sinking Spring there is a crematorium. At Bean a direct cremation package can cost just under $4,000.

At the John P. Feeney Funeral Home in Reading, its cremation is just under $1,700.

"There's a lot of things that make up the difference in prices, but there are substantial differences in prices among funeral homes," said Feeney, "Our advertising is basically geared to make people think maybe I should call around and get comparisons."

Some funeral homes post their pricing online.  But the majority only make their prices available in person or by phone. Funeral directors said you shouldn't feel squeamish to shop around.

"Those people that do could save thousands of dollars," said Feeney.

And whether you choose to go for a burial or cremation, Feeney said try to negotiate you would do it for a car or a house why not for this purchase too.

"Call a funeral home have a price in mind," said Feeney.

"It does happen with some funeral homes, however I'm of the feeling that we shouldn't charge one family more than another for the exact same thing that we're providing," said Bean.

In the end, save your family some money and stress.  Both funeral directors said when you check on pricing make sure you know what's included, narrow down your choices and visit the funeral home.

Just like death those costs are final.