Funeral costs are a real concern for most families facing the death and burial of a loved one. At a time when stress and anxiety are already higher than average, knowing that you will be expected to pay out thousands of dollars to provide a fitting farewell can prove difficult.
While more and more families are preparing for this eventuality with funeral pre-paid packages, there are options for those who have not planned ahead. In addition to financing a funeral, you can manage funeral costs by comparison shopping, selecting lower-cost burial alternatives, and coordinating services at the funeral home of your choice.
Online Funeral Planner Assistance
If you are preparing to plan a funeral, we suggest following this guide to estimate costs and come up with the best options for your family. Losing a loved one will always be difficult—and financing a funeral is rarely something anyone looks forward to—but with the right resources and support, you can come up with a beautiful funeral that won’t break the bank.
Step One: Know What Things Cost
Before you make any decisions regarding pre-paid funeral packages or a funeral plan in the immediate future, it’s a good idea to know what kind of costs to expect. Although the National Funeral Directors Association estimates that the average funeral (including a casket and vault but not a burial plot or headstone) costs $7,775, variations like your location, funeral type, and funeral provider will also have an influence over your final price tag.
One way in which to learn the cost of various funeral items is to call funeral homes and ask for a copy of their complete Price List. As they are required by law to provide this information to consumers who ask, you can create a side-by-side comparison of various funeral homes in your area.
For a faster, more efficient way to learn about average funeral costs, we have included a detailed funeral price chart. Although these prices are in no way guaranteed by various funeral providers, they do provide an overview of what sort of services you’ll need and what you can expect to pay for them.
|Funeral/Burial Service||Base Fee||Luxury Services|
|Direct Burial at a Cemetery||$1,000||$3,500|
|Funeral Ceremony Fees||$200||$1,500|
|Funeral Home Services||$500||$2,000|
|Grave Opening and Closing||$300||$1,000|
|Visitation or Viewing||$150||$500|
Step Two: Create a Shopping List
It might seem irreverent to create a funeral planning shopping list, but sitting down to discuss and write out your wishes is the single-most productive way to create a manageable funeral budget. This is especially true if there is some dissention in the family about what, if anything, is a must-have at the memorial service or funeral.
- Determine what burial/cremation options are required by law, religion, or family preference: Varying laws and regulations will determine what types of funeral expenses are required versus those that are “bonus” items. For example, most cemeteries require that you purchase a vault in order to meet their standards; however, you can almost always opt out of things like embalming or a more expensive casket.
- Decide where you want to spend more versus where you can cut back: A common misperception is that you must pay top dollar for top services. While it’s true that more money in your funeral budget will make it easier to plan the funeral you want, you don’t have to go all-out on each item. Finding a balance between where you must spend your money and where you want to spend it can help you approach the funeral planning with a more level head.
- Set a budget for each item on the list: It’s a good idea to have a firm budget for each item. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend more than you have.
- Shop around: Look for purchases online, at local providers, and at corporate funeral homes. Comparison shopping will allow you to better understand where you should make your purchases and how to adjust your budget accordingly.
When you go into the funeral home, be sure and bring your funeral shopping list with you. Finalizing funeral plans can be a very emotional process, and having a reference on hand for the decisions you made ahead of time can help keep you on budget.
Step Three: Find a Way to Finance the Funeral
Although some funeral homes do provide funeral loan packages or payment plans, it’s not recommended to go too far into debt while burying a loved one. Because survivors often have to make do with a lower life budget (due to the loss of income the deceased provided), committing to years of payments could add even more of a strain.
Instead, you should look to alternative funding and low-cost funeral options. Ideally, this means taking advantage of funeral pre-plans well in advance of death occurring. If this isn’t an option, you can also consider:
- Life insurance policies
- Funeral insurance policies
- The estate of the deceased
- Savings account
- Family members
- Church/Community resources
- Charity auction
- Social Security
- Veteran’s Affairs
- Green burial
- Direct burial
- Direct cremation
- County burial
You can also approach a bank for funding. Although they may not be able to push the paperwork through and secure your loan in time for the funeral, you can make arrangements with the funeral home to determine an appropriate payment schedule.
Paying for a funeral isn’t always easy, but most people are happy that they took the time to properly plan the event. This is your final chance to say farewell—and with the right budgeting, you can do it in a way that is fitting, memorable, and affordable.