Love often trumps budget in funerals, weddings

casket display
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What price love? Too high, is often the answer, a recent study finds. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that when it comes to weddings, funerals and other events that focus on love, price considerations often go out the window.

“People’s buying behavior changes when they’re making purchases out of love because it feels wrong to engage in cost-saving measures,” said Peter McGraw, lead author of the study and associate professor of marketing and psychology at CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, in a press release.

“People abandon cost-saving measures when it comes to sentimental buys because they want to avoid having to decide what is the right amount of money to spend on a loving relationship,” he said.

Even if you weren’t that fond of Uncle Charlie, you’re still likely to spend more than necessary on his funeral, just to be sure no one thinks money is more important to you than love and respect for your family, in other words.

Symbolic of love

Coffins, urns, engagement rings, elaborate wedding receptions all have the potential to carry blockbuster prices, possibly putting families in hock for years to come.

“It’s important to be aware of this tendency not to seek cost savings because, over a lifetime, consumers make many purchases that are symbolic of love — whether for weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries and even potlucks,” said McGraw. “The loss of savings can really add up and put people in compromising financial situations.”

In one part of the study, which involved nearly 245 participants, the researchers asked attendees at a Boulder wedding show about their preference between two engagement rings. The attendees nearly always chose the more expensive ring when deciding between a more expensive ring with a bigger carat and a less expensive ring with a smaller carat.

Funeral prices

In the case of funerals, you should have no trouble getting an itemized breakdown when dealing with a funeral home. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to provide consumers with detailed pricing breakdowns but the rule isn’t always followed.

FTC investigators visited 133 funeral homes during 2015 and 2016 and found that 31 of them failed to disclose itemized pricing as required by the rule. This puts the burden on families. Consumer advocates recommend that if a funeral home is reluctant to provide pricing breakdowns, you should take you business elsewhere.

It’s not even necessary to deal with a funeral home in most states. Options include direct cremation, green burials.