During the current economic times, finding ways to cut costs are commonplace, even when the purchase is the last one you plan to make.
Area funeral home directors are finding that decisions made about their products and services are starting to reflect the overall trend to be more cost conscious.
"People are thinking a little bit more about better pre-planning," said Eric Shook, owner/director of Engle-Shook Funeral Home. "They may have lost their jobs, or are faced with uncertain times, but they still see the wise decision in planning their funeral."
Although the directors have not seen many changes in the amount of pre-planning, Shook said he has seen more people ask about cremation.
"I don't know if it's because we now have an on-site crematory, or that they are choosing less-expensive options," he said. "Yet as a whole, we haven't seen a big reduction because of the economy."
Shook is most concerned about younger individuals, still working and in their 40s, 50s and 60s, who with the current financial crisis may not be concerned about the cost of planning a funeral. If a younger person experiences an unexpected death, it is usually the family who works with the funeral home to cover expenses. If money cannot be found, area churches often help, or the city's indigent fund.
"There's a little money from the city, but there is not a lot out there for help," Shook said. "Direct cremations are not very expensive, and the city can help if need be. In the townships, there is also aid available sometimes, but there is no state assistance anymore, it's now left to the local municipalities."
"We don't run into it very often," Shook said. "Between the funeral home and the family, we can come up with payments, we are usually able to work things out with the family, and to look at reducing costs by picking certain services."
It's easier to contain extra costs with the on-site crematory, he added. Shook said he expects to see more families coming in who are experiencing financial difficulties.
"We will work with the family, and keep it in house," he said. "There is a culture here to get it right, but to do the best we can with what we have got."
Robb Mack, director of Hoffman-Gottfried-Mack Funeral Home, has not seen a change in spending habits or pre-planning for funerals.
"I think the effects will be over the long-term with people not buying insurance policies or saving as much," Mack said. "People are still working, they are in their 40s, 50s and 60s, and they are not buying life insurance now, IRAs or investing in retirement. They are not putting money aside for something like this, so it will affect us down the road."
He has observed that families are more cautious now when when selecting things such as flowers, type and style of casket, and getting anything extra.
"They will say that they want to try to keep things within this range," Mack said.
"Tiffin has always been pretty aware of funeral planning, and we are seeing more and more people with more knowledge of what they want."
Costs have gone up for the funeral home business as well, with utilities, transportation and cost of shipping for merchandise increasing.
"Health care insurance, taxes, utilities, gas, automobiles, that affects everyone," said Richard Traunero, owner of Traunero Funeral Home. "We cut expenses and conserve where we can to hold prices down as much as possible."
Traunero said the economy affects the business the most in the expenses of things that need to be purchased to operate the funeral home.
"We haven't made any changes to our pricing structures," he said. "People think that we are recession proof, but we offer a type of service, and we need to be conscious of what we are spending. In general, we have not seen a big effect, as it has been in other industries."
Traunero said the cost-conscious trend has been apparent in the past 10-15 years.
"People are a little more cost-conscious now, asking more questions of us, which is good, they are better informed," he added.