Even death has its markups. That's part of the reason the average funeral in the U.S. costs $6,500, about four times what folks in Great Britain pay to see their loved ones off [source: Gottschlich].
Caskets are a big part of it. They're generally marked up 300 to 500 percent over the wholesale cost. For example, a casket might wholesale for $325. An independent retailer would typically sell it for about $650. A funeral home may charge $1,295, a 300 percent markup [source: Funeral Consumers Alliance].
Other funeral products and services also carry a healthy markup. The charge for placing an obituary in a local paper can be three times the actual cost. A "coffin vault," which holds the casket in the ground, is much more expensive than a concrete "grave liner." A funeral home might charge an $800 premium for a sealed casket, even though it just means adding an $8 rubber seal to the lid. And remember, no casket preserves a body in the grave [source: Gottschlich].
Internet sources and discount stores like Costco sell caskets for less than what you will pay a funeral home. Or, a person handy with a hammer and saw could even make his or her own coffin in advance. If that seems too morbid, cremation is another money-saving option. Keep in mind that Federal Trade Commission rules allow you provide your own casket for a funeral and prohibit the funeral home or cemetery from charging extra fees if you do so.
For much more information on markups and other money matters, read on to the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Australian Trade Commission. "Textiles and clothing to France."http://www.austrade.gov.au/Textiles-and-clothing-to-France/default.aspx
- Batsell, Jake. "Q & A: Central America and Coffee." The Seattle Times. Sept. 22, 2004.http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/shiftingfortunes/2002040236_qa_coffee19.html
- ConsumerReports.org. "Generic Drugs: The Same Medicine for Less Money." (Dec. 14, 2011) http://www.consumerreports.org/health/resources/pdf/best-buy-drugs/money-saving-guides/english/GenericDrugs-FINAL.pdf
- Consumer Reports. "When it pays to buy organic." Feb. 2006http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/diet-nutrition/organic-products/organic-products-206/overview/index.htm
- Crowe, Aaron. "10 items with ludicrous markups," MSNBC.com. (Dec. 14, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39490829/ns/business-personal_finance/t/items-ludicrous-markups/#.Tt4pnWPNlGU
- Crowe, Aaron. "Biggest Drugstore Markups: Which Products You're Paying More For," DailyFinance.com, March 9, 2011. (Dec. 14, 2011) http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/03/09/biggest-drugstore-markups-what-you-pay-a-premium-for/
- Dolan, Daria and Ken. Walletpop. "10 huge retail rip-offs you can no longer afford to ignore, despite your cravings." Nov. 20, 2008http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2008/11/20/retail-rip-offs-you-can-no-longer-afford/
- Downing, Megan. "Cost & Nutrition Analysis: Convenience vs. Homemade Foods." Southwest Human Development Services. 2006.http://www.cacfp.org/2006ConHandouts/CostNut.Analysisoverheads.pdf
- DY Jewels. "Jewelry Education: Buy from the Source."http://www.dyjewels.com/je_source.shtml
- Entrepreneur.com. "Business Idea Center: Popcorn Cart."http://www.entrepreneur.com/businessideas/609.html
- Fishman, Charles. "Message in a Bottle." Fast Company. July 2007.http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/117/features-message-in-a-bottle.html
- Funerals Consumer Alliance. "Ten Tips for Saving Funeral $$$," November 26, 2007. (Dec. 14, 2011) http://www.funerals.org/frequently-asked-questions/funeral-arrangements/28-arrangements/66-ten-tips-for-saving-funeral-
- Gottschlich, Anthony. "Caskets can be expensive, but shopping around can cut cost," Dayton Daily News, June 5, 2007. (Dec. 14, 2011) http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/special-reports/funeral/2007/06/05/ddn060507caskets.html
- Grant, Kelli B. "With These Markups I Thee Wed." SmartMoney. June 27, 2008.http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/with-these-markups-i-thee-wed-23372
- ireaderreview.com. "Book Cost Analysis - Cost of Physical Book Publishing." (Dec. 14, 2011) http://ireaderreview.com/2009/05/03/book-cost-analysis-cost-of-physical-book-publishing/
- Kadet, Anne. "Getting Lens Crafty." SmartMoney. March 29, 2007.http://www.slate.com/id/2124237/
- Leder, Michelle. "The Denim Bubble." Slate. Aug. 10, 2005http://www.slate.com/id/2124237/
- Markman, Jon. "Starbucks Genius Blends Community, Caffeine." MSN Money. Feb. 16, 2005.http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/P107679.asp
- McHugh, Jacob. "Top 10 Biggest Price Markups." TopTenz.net. (Dec. 14, 2011) http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-biggest-price-markups.php
- Mint.com. "The Cost of Convenience: Mini Bar Pricing," July 22, 2010. (Dec.14, 2011) http://www.mint.com/blog/saving/mini-bar-pricing-07282010/?display=wide
- Mont, Joe. "10 Products With Big Mark-Ups," MainSt.com, July 22, 2011. (Dec.14, 2011) http://www.mainstreet.com/article/smart-spending/10-products-big-mark
- National Labor Committee. "Anatomy of Exploitation." 2000.http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=422
- Paul, Noel C. "Popping Profits." Christian Science Monitor. July 23, 2001.http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0723/p11s1.html
- Pepitone, "America's Biggest Rip-offs," CNNMoney. (Dec.14, 2011) http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/news/1001/gallery.americas_biggest_ripoffs/4.html
- Roediger, Henry L. "Why Are Textbooks So Expensive?" Observer, January 2005. (Dec. 16, 2011) http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1712
- Stonefield, Sean. "Twenty Ways You're Getting Ripped Off," Forbes.com. (Dec.14, 2011) http://www.forbes.com/2011/05/12/twenty-rip-offs-2011_print.html
Paying for housing takes up a huge portion of your paycheck. HowStuffWorks Now looks at the place taking the biggest bite.