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Have you ever bought something because of your emotions, like sadness, anxiety, or stress? Most of us have used purchasing to make us feel better. In fact, as many as 69% of Americans say that their feelings have influenced their spending at one time or another.

Because the days following the death of a loved one are often filled with sadness, anxiety, or stress, it’s not uncommon for a family to emotionally overspend when making funeral arrangements. But there are ways to ensure that you honor and celebrate a loved one’s life personally and meaningfully without emotionally overspending.

Let’s look at 5 ways to prevent emotional overspending when planning a funeral for someone you love.

Woman in pink cardigan sitting at table at home making a budget

1. Set a Budget

After the death of a loved one, you will attend an arrangement conference at the funeral home. At this meeting, you will sit down with a funeral director and discuss all available options. It’s a time to ask questions, become familiar with the possibilities, and discover the best way to honor your loved one’s life.

However, before you head into the meeting, look at your finances. What type of budget are you working with? Are there any family members who can chip in to help you pay for funeral expenses? Did the deceased have a funeral insurance policy, a final expense plan, or a life insurance policy? With a little advance preparation, you can set a budget to guide your decisions as you speak with a funeral director.

Woman holding a credit card while sitting on her couch

2. Give Yourself Time to Think

Some people are more open about discussing death than others. But if your loved one never told you what kind of service they wanted, you’re left to make all the decisions on your own. Because you love them deeply, your first impulse may be to buy the absolute best of everything. The most expensive casket. The top-of-the-line engraving. The cemetery plot with the best location.

If you want these things for your loved one, go for it! However, if they don’t fit into your budget, take a day to think about it. If, after 24 hours, you decide you’d like to go all out, the funeral director will help you do that and pull out all the stops. On the other hand, if you decide to make some adjustments to the plan, the funeral director will offer solutions that will both honor your loved one and more closely align with your budget.

Older man with gray beard holding up hands as he says no to something

3. Resist Social Pressure

All kinds of external sources inform our decisions. “I need that dress because it’s ‘in’ this year.” “I should drive a sports car because that’s what people do who have it made.” “My sibling had a big wedding; I should, too.” When planning a funeral, don’t feel like you need to keep up with the Joneses. That can be very expensive, and what’s right for one person may not be right for another.

So, as you decide how to honor your loved one’s life, keep their life at the forefront of your mind. Were they an outgoing or quiet person? Did they like big parties or close gatherings? Did they like to eat? Ride horses? Crochet? Golf? Work with their hands? Read? Thinking about their personality and their life decisions will help you decide how best to honor their memory at a funeral.

Man and woman sitting down with a professional to discuss

4. Take a Level-Headed Friend with You

If you know you’re not in the best state of mind following a loved one’s death, consider taking a level-headed friend with you to the arrangement conference. Choose someone you trust who isn’t directly affected by the death. Their steadiness will help settle your emotions and possibly protect you from making an impulse decision. On top of that, they may think of questions or solutions you don’t because their mind is not clouded by grief.

Man and wife talking with professional in the comfort of their home

5. Plan Ahead for Funeral Wishes

While these tips will help you prevent emotional overspending at a time of loss, the best way to prevent emotional overspending is to prepare in advance. If you have communicated your funeral wishes to family and friends, then they know exactly what you want and won’t be left wondering on the day they plan the funeral.

You might also consider pre-funding your funeral plan. Funeral homes offer prepaid funeral insurance policies that allow you to pay for a funeral in advance. Essentially, you decide what kind of funeral you want, the funeral home gives you a cost estimate, and once you’re satisfied, you sign up for an insurance policy. Over the next several years, you pay premiums until the insurance policy is paid in full. This way, all your wishes are outlined and fully paid for when the time comes. Your family just needs to choose a time and date for the services. And there’s no need to worry about emotional overspending!

Whether you pre-fund your funeral or simply record your funeral wishes, your family will be able to make good financial decisions at a time of loss because they know what you wanted.

Husband and wife sitting on couch at home as they speak with a funeral professional

If planning ahead for funeral wishes is a new concept for you or you’re skeptical, check out these resources for additional information:

Hopefully, these 5 suggestions will you avoid emotional overspending as you plan a loved one’s final tribute. Remember, the funeral directors and funeral home staff are there to serve you. They don’t make decisions – you do! Share your ideas and preferences, ask questions, and consider all the options. The funeral director will work with you and offer affordable options that meet your budget AND honor your loved one.

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