How To Avoid Emotional Overspending

When a loved one dies, it is natural to want to make a grand gesture to show how much you loved them. This can sometimes manifest as spending a significant amount of money on their funeral services, leaving savings depleted, or perhaps even creating debt. Things such as casket selection, flower choice, or obituary charges can all add up and lead to a bill far beyond what your loved one would have expected (or wanted) you to pay. So what exactly is emotional overspending, and how can you recognize and avoid it?

EMOTIONAL OVERSPENDING IS BEST DESCRIBED as selecting services or merchandise due to the “need to have it” versus a legitimate purchase. Your emotions are urging you to spend $6000 on a casket in the perfect style and shade to compliment your mother’s outfit. To pay $1000 in flowers, or even (yes it happens) on an obituary. You have suffered a terrible loss, and you want to show the world that money is no object in sending your loved one off in style. Sound familiar? Many people experience this first when planning for a wedding. You can be paying off a wedding dress for years, and it’s the same theory with a casket. Cars and vacations are another place where emotional overspending is common. If you recognize some of these areas in your own life, it is particularly important to plan ahead to avoid overspending in the moment of grief.

Combat Overspending

There are several ways to combat emotion overspending, both for yourself, and for your family. The easiest thing to do is to plan ahead. We know that death is inevitable, so start by looking into life insurance or a pre-paid funeral contract. Either of these options will provide funds to take care of your funeral services, meaning that your family will have the means to pay for it. It’s also important to talk about your wishes. Do you want to have a horse-drawn carriage carry your casket through the cemetery? Or maybe you want to ensure that a reception can be held afterwards at your favorite restaurant. By simply writing down your wishes, and talking about them, you can give your family peace of mind that they don’t need to spend an outrageous amount on you. Spending time together and sharing love now will also reassure them that you know they love you, and when the time comes they may not feel that same sense of need to overspend. If you are the one making the funeral arrangements after a death has occurred, there are also ways to avoid emotional overspending in that moment.

When Making Arrangements

You may feel overwhelmed in the moment of planning the funeral arrangements. Lots of different options are being thrown at you, and you will be under a tremendous amount of stress while being asked to make dozens of decisions. It is easy to get overwhelmed, or hyper-focused on a big ticket item. Remember that $6000 casket? Six months after the funeral you will not even remember what it looks like, but you would still be paying it off on your credit card.

  • Have a budget in mind going into the funeral arrangements. There will be some unavoidable costs, like the cremation fee, or the use of the hearse, but an overall sense of what you really have available to spend will help you in making your decisions.
  • Have a family member or close friend come to the arrangements to hold you accountable. You’ll be surprised how much this can help you stay on track.
  • Look to your family and friends for talents to use to personalize the service.  An poet who can write a special verse to read, or a musician who can sing or play an instrument to add value to the service. There are lots of creative, yet inexpensive ways to personalize a funeral service, which also serves to demonstrates your love for the deceased without stressing your budget.

Remember, it is the experience itself that everyone will remember, but only you will be footing the bill.