be expensive, so much so, that these days a traditional funeral service
can be beyond the means of most families. The average funeral costs
around $8,000 and the average cremation costs in the region of $3,500.
With many families struggling to make ends meet, laying out thousands of
dollars for a funeral is not an option anymore.
This consumer demand is fostering
a trend towards more affordable funeral alternatives, and the industry
is slowly responding. If you are planning a funeral ahead of time,
or have an immediate need to make funeral arrangements, becoming informed
of your choices is the first step to managing your funeral budget.
You CAN arrange a very dignified final send off for your loved one at a
fraction of the cost if you are prepared to do things a little differently!
There is still some mythology
permeating funeral purchases which makes us feel it is undignified to ask
about funeral costs. Family members can feel it is disrespectful
to their loved one if throughout the arrangement process their decisions
are influenced by the price. This is completely wrong, and just as
with any other large purchase you make, you should absolutely ensure you
weigh up value for money and look to save money where possible. You
can honor your loved one’s memory for less than $1,000 in most areas of
the United States.
So how easy is it to arrange
a cheap funeral? Below I have outlined 6 tips to help you plan an
inexpensive funeral that is still as dignified as any full-service traditional
If you have any further questions
about how you can save money on arranging a funeral, please contact us.
1. Do some funeral cost research
in your area
Funeral costs from different
funeral homes and crematories can vary considerably. The first thing
you need to do to arm yourself for organizing an affordable funeral is
to know what the variables in funeral costs are in your area. You
need to make sure you are comparing like-for-like funeral services and
packages. More funeral homes are starting to publish funeral costs
on their websites – so this helps. But beware of the funeral home
website that appears to offer a funeral price comparison for your area
– often the funeral home may have selected ONLY higher cost funeral homes
to compare themselves against!
2. Know your legal rights when
purchasing funeral services & products
The Federal Trade Commission’s
‘Funeral Rule’ makes it law that a funeral home MUST disclose their General
Price List to you when you make an inquiry (whether by phone or in person).
Unfortunately, many funeral homes still resist openly disclosing prices
to potential customers. Not all funeral homes publish
their price list on their website (and sometimes those that do make it
difficult to find or over complicated to interpret). If you phone
a funeral home sometimes they will ask for your details and say that they
need to get a funeral director to call you back. This is all about
positioning to do the ‘sell’ on you. If they cannot simply disclose
a price over the phone, or by email, then this should ring alarm bells!
3. Outline a funeral or cremation
budget & stick to it
If you do not want to overspend
on a funeral, the best thing to do is to set a budget and do your best
to stick to it. Do not let a funeral home pressure you into purchasing
ancillary products and services that you do not really require. If
you keep your funeral plan simple you can minimize the overall cost.
Get a friend or associate to accompany you to the funeral home, or negotiate
on your behalf with your requirements and your budget. It is much
easier to be objective when you are not personally involved!
4. Investigate what options
there are to help you with funeral expenses
Today more families are seeking
out financial assistance when faced with organizing a funeral. There
is limited support and this differs depending upon the state/county and
your personal circumstances. Some employers or unions offer death
benefits, there may be life assurance or funds within the deceased’s estate
or some charitable help. Read our article on What
are your options on how to pay for a funeral or cremation?
5. Consider other lower cost
As we have already mentioned
you CAN arrange a simple and dignified funeral for under $1,000 in most
areas of the United States if you so choose. You DO need to be prepared
to consider alternative options to fulfill this, such as cremation, a home
funeral or natural burial. Cremation will certainly reduce your funeral
costs. Opting for a cremation can generally save you at least 40
– 50% on the costs of a traditional burial, as you will not have the cemetery
and casket costs. A green or natural burial can work out much cheaper
than a traditional burial. Green burial plots are generally inexpensive
compared to many cemetery burial plots. Conducting your own home
funeral can save significantly on funeral expenses. This is legal
in all but 7 states, and conducting the funeral yourself can not only save
money but also personalize the ritual in a unique way. Further information
about arranging a home funeral can be found in DIY
Funeral Care: Family-directed Funerals.
6. Choose direct cremation &
conduct your own services
The cheapest funeral can be
achieved by arranging a direct cremation with your nearest low cost cremation
provider and then conducting your own family-led memorial service.
A direct cremation simply means that the funeral home or crematory collect
the deceased, transfer he/she to their facility and arrange to conduct
an immediate cremation (after the mandatory waiting period of 24/48 hours).
A basic container is used for the cremation and the cremated remains are
returned in a temporary urn. There is no service or viewing, although
if required some funeral homes will arrange a private family viewing for
an additional charge.
A direct cremation can be
arranged for between $495 and $1,395 (depending upon your location).
This can reduce the ‘professional service fees’ for a funeral dramatically.
Once you have the cremated remains you can make arrangements to conduct
a memorial service or perform an ash scattering service. You can
choose to do this at a venue that does not require fees, such as your church,
community hall or even at your home.
It is important to remember
that in many ways funerals are for the living. The funeral ritual
is a significant practice by which we come to terms with the loss of our
loved one and honor their memory. It is a ‘gathering’ to pay last
respects and share memories. No one can dictate to you how to grieve,
or how best to pay tribute to your loved one. In fact, being in control
and hosting your own memorial services is the best way to be able to pay
tribute and honor your loved one, whilst being in control of how much it
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Published: September 10th
Memorials – Network of low cost funeral & cremation providers