How much does a funeral cost? The average funeral cost is $7,000 – $10,000 US dollars. There are many savings to be made at the funeral home however, even the savviest consumer finds it tough to comparison-shop when coping with grief and loss. It is never too early to write down your end of life preferences. Being prepared for your own funeral can relieve some of the emotional turmoil your family may experience in the event of your death. In this article I show you where there are savings to be made. Your consumer rights are protected by law and the funeral homes have responsibilities to uphold.
“When you can’t afford the cost of living, you certainly can’t afford the cost of dying,” says Joshua Slocum, director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a nonprofit, funeral industry watchdog organization. “We’re hearing from funeral directors and consumers that the economy is affecting choices. People are planning ahead. They’re reconsidering long-held traditions for simpler, more personalized funerals.”
How much does a funeral cost? Before you decide on any sort of funeral plan you should read this article! Below is a list of the ways you can save on the average funeral cost:
- Recognize your rights. Obtain quotes form several different funeral homes.
Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It’s a good move to know which goods or services the law requires you to purchase and which are optional. Your rights are protected by ‘The Funeral Rule’ (Federal Trade Commission). Print off my approved funeral costs breakdown checklist to enable you to obtain comparable quotes by telephone from different funeral homes. The FTC states that you do not have to provide any identifying information in order to receive pricing information over the phone. You also have the right to buy individual services and products, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not require.
- What does a funeral cost on average if I opt for direct cremation or any type of cremation?
The cost of cremation can be half the cost of burial since there is no need to purchase a burial plot or some of the more expensive burial hardware. Direct cremation, in which there is no funeral service or body viewing, is the lowest average funeral cost option at around $500. Under the Funeral Rule, the funeral home is required to inform the bereaved, and have available, alternative containers such as unfinished wood, fiberboard or cardboard containers. It is not necessary to have a casket for a cremation.
- Opt for direct burial.
Like direct cremation, this options skips a more formal body viewing to get the deceased prepared and buried as easily as possible.
- Hold a memorial service at home.
Although the traditional custom is to have a formal service at the funeral home for about $500, you can just as easily hold a memorial at home, outdoors, or rent a room at a venue. You can further save on the average funeral cost by using a small selection of the deceased’s favorite belongings to personalize the area. For ideas of funeral readings to further personalize the service click here.
A simple memorial service can follow either a direct cremation or burial.
- Decline embalming
The average cost of funeral embalming is about $700, but for most funerals no state law actually requires it. If you’re having a one-day funeral, ask the funeral home if refrigeration is an option. Funeral homes may not provide embalming services without asking permission.
- Buy an urn or casket elsewhere
There are many options available when it comes to buying a casket or urn. Most states don’t require that the casket be purchased from a funeral home or mortician which can cost in excess of $2,000 (depending on the range stocked by the funeral home). Amazon, Costco and Walmart stock caskets and urns which may be up to five times less expensive than the funeral home options, allowing you to save considerably on the average funeral cost.
“By law funeral homes can’t charge you a handling fee to use a casket you’ve purchased elsewhere. They are also unable to refuse to use a casket or an urn that you have supplied” – The Funeral Rule (Federal Trade Commission)
If you’ve decided on a direct cremation you don’t have to purchase a casket. Instead, you can choose an inexpensive unfinished wood box (or an alternative container made from press-board, fiberboard or cardboard) from the funeral home. Read more about casket prices and your available options.
- To reduce the average funeral cost, resist pressure to buy goods and services you don’t want or need. Avoid emotional overspending.
In their grief, some people are drawn to products based on how comforting they sound. For example, caskets can be equipped with a rubber gasket that’s marketed to protect the body from the elements once it’s in the ground. While these special gaskets can only cost the funeral home upwards of $10, it could raise the price of a casket by $800. It’s not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
- Don’t get a burial container, grave liner or vault unless it’s required.
Grave liners and vaults are basically types of outer burial containers with concrete walls that keep the ground from sinking in around the casket, costing around $1,000. Some cemeteries require them for cosmetic reasons; others do not. You can avoid high funeral prices by finding a cemetery with less strict rules or one that provides a lower cost liner option. Vaults are more substantial and therefore more expensive, however a liner should always satisfy the cemetery requirements.
- Get a billing statement
Immediately after arrangements are made — but before you pay and before the service takes place — the funeral home must give you an itemized bill with the total cost. It should also outline any legal, cemetery or crematory requirements that you need to pay for any particular goods or services.
- How much does a funeral cost if I donate to a medical school?
There are normally no costs for the family if the deceased is donated to a medical school — this includes transportation of the body and the handling of the remains. While a body donation should be arranged with a donor program/ medical school prior to death, some medical schools will collect the deceased from the funeral home. The medical school can also coordinate memorial services for the families at a later date. Generally, cremated remains are returned to the family at the conclusion of the medical school’s study, which lasts one to two years. This represents a significant saving on the average funeral cost.