Thursday, October 29, 2009

Walmart Saving You Money in Death

Walmart wants to make sure they get your last dollar--literally. The leading discount store has announced it is now selling coffins online. This is good news for baby boomers who may be looking to save money for retirement and beyond. Prices for the caskets range from $999 to $1,699.

Surprisingly, Walmart isn't the first to sell caskets. Costco led the way and has a whole website dedicated to the handling of this delicate matter. Here are some of the Q&A's on their site:

Q: Why is Costco Wholesale selling caskets?
As a service to our members.

Q: If members have more questions, where do they get answers?
First, call Universal Casket Company toll free at 866.458.2800. This customer service number is staffed by qualified representatives who will be able to answer any product, shipping and delivery questions.

Additionally you can call Costco’s Call Center at 1-800-955-2292 or email

Q: Will funeral homes accept the casket that we order?
Yes, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires funeral homes to accept any casket purchased from an outside source. However it is recommended that the purchaser notify the funeral home of their casket order within 1 business day.

Currently, caskets can only be purchased from and shipped to addresses in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Q: If my bill to address is in a state not listed above, but the ship to address is, will my order be valid?
No, at this time your bill-to and ship-to addresses must both be within the 34 states listed above, otherwise your order will be cancelled.

Q: How long before I receive the casket?
Expedited and Standard shipping is available.

Before placing an order for Expedited Delivery, you must call Universal Casket Company directly at 866-458-2800, or your order will not be processed. Expedited Delivery orders must be placed by 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). A casket ordered for expedited delivery will arrive by 5 p.m. (your local time) the following day (Monday-Friday, excluding holidays). For example: if an order is placed on Monday at 2 p.m. EST, the casket will be delivered by Tuesday by 5 p.m. (your local time); however, if the order is placed on Monday at 2:01 p.m. EST, the casket will deliver by Wednesday. Expedited delivery is not available in all areas.

Standard delivery orders may be placed directly through without prior authorization from Universal Casket Company.

A casket ordered on with standard shipping will be delivered within three business days (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays) from the date the order is placed (for exceptions see below). If your order is placed by 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), that is considered as one business day. For example, for an order placed on Monday at 12:00 p.m. EST, the casket will be delivered by Wednesday, however if the order is placed on Monday at 12:01 p.m. EST, the casket will deliver by Thursday. Standard orders will be delivered by 5 p.m. (your local time) on scheduled delivery date.

Q: Do I need to be at the funeral home to receive the casket?

Universal Casket Company delivers during normal business hours. You do not have to be present at the time of delivery. A funeral provider’s refusal to use third party merchandise until the consumer has inspected it may place an unreasonable burden on consumer choice, in violation of Section 453.4(b)(1) of the FTC Funeral Rule.

Q: Do I need to be at the delivery location if the casket is being delivered to a facility other than a funeral home?

Yes, if the casket is being delivered to a location other than a funeral home, the carrier will call for a delivery appointment. In this case, someone must be present to accept delivery.

Q: Can you order a casket for preplanning purposes?
Yes, as long as the casket is being shipped to a member's home or storage facility of choice. The order will ship within the stated delivery parameters on the site. However, due to regulations and restrictions, we cannot hold on to any orders for future delivery.

Walmart Execs are also hoping people will start planning ahead. is allowing people to pay for the caskets over a period of 12 months for no interest.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baby Boomers, Need a Tax Write off for 2009?

I stumbled across an interesting article recently called the 10 Wackiest Tax Write Offs of 2008. The author called them wacky--but upon reading the list, I thought some of the write-offs had some merit. Take the lawyer, for example, who wrote off a $50,000 deduction for a party he gave in which many of his former and present clients were invited. Certainly they were talking business while sipping on the finest champagne and eating filet mignon.

After careful thought I decided to create my own list to give my fellow baby boomers some ideas on how to stick it to Uncle Sam this year:

Single Boomer Business Owners: Here's your chance to claim a huge deduction as well as a happily ever after. Get re-married---preferably to another business owner--invite every customer you've ever dealt with (including those who got on your last nerve), talk a little shop at the reception and then write it off as a business meeting. The key here is to make sure you come in contact with each and every client you ever dealt with and say something about your business dealings with them. This would also be a grand opportunity to make more deals.

If you get more than one speeding ticket in the year, write it off as a donation to the Highway Patrol Benevolence Fund.

You've got a dog--which is technically your dependant. Your dog just had a little of pups and they all live with you. Wah-la!

Prostitution: For all of you Cougers out there: Your body is considered business property so why not claim a deduction for depreciation of value.

Got any more suggestions to add to this list? Please share, and be sure to click on the title of this blog post to read the Ten Wackiest Write-Offs of 2008.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Why Chicago Didn't Get the Olympics Bid

Let me start off by giving you this poll:

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in America 2008

New Orleans
Camden, NJ
St. Louis
Flint, Mich.
Gary, Ind.
Birmingham, Ala.
Richmond, Calif.
North Charleston, SC

Clearly, Chicago isn't on the list but, no doubt, it ought to be. Did you know the number of people murdered in Chicago during 2008 was larger than the number of U.S. soldier deaths in Iraq during the same period?

314 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq;
509 people were murdered in Chicago

Who would want to go to a city where their safety would possibly be in jeopardy?

Do you think Mayor Richard Daley has any answers or is he just another baby boomer who has closed his eyes to the real issues that plague his city and our nation?

Is President Barack Obama's eyes also closed?