How Much is Too Much to Spend on a Funeral?
When it comes to giving your loved one a fitting farewell, you might be tempted to say that no amount of money is too much to spend on the perfect funeral. After all, funeral planning is something you only get to do for somebody once, and after the decisions have been put into action, there is no turning back.
This is a sentiment shared by many—celebrities and politicians in particular. From Michael Jackson’s $1 million funeral to Ronald Reagan’s $400 million commemoration (once you factor in the stock market dropping and the federal holiday given that day), the most public kinds of mourning rituals come with a price tag.
For most families, it might not be feasible (or wise) to drop $1 million or more on a funeral, but it is possible to spend $20,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 on a funeral. Purchasing a mausoleum, for example, can swiftly move the price tag up—as can elaborate caskets, long processions that require part of the city to be shut down, travel costs associated with a large and spread out family, prime cemetery real estate, and other considerations.
Average Funeral Costs
The average funeral costs anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000, depending on the type of disposition method chosen (cremation or burial) as well as the memorial service itself. Prices can go as low as just $1,000 when you choose direct cremation, but this does not include any type of service or celebration.
When families pre-plan or pre-arrange a funeral, the average cost tends to go down a little. Because you are taking the time to set aside funds in advance, you can take advantage of package deals and savings plans. You can also make sure you do not pay for any unnecessary details; when a family plans a funeral after death has occurred, they tend to make decisions from an emotional standpoint rather than a financial one. This means they will pay more for goods and services they do not necessarily want, but feel honor-bound to provide.
This is one reason why setting a funeral budget (or making financial arrangements in a pre-planned funeral) is such a good idea. By setting a dollar amount you are willing and able to spend, you can make funeral decisions to match the budget instead of the other way around.
But how much is too much?
A good rule of thumb is to pay the same as you would for a wedding of the same scale and size. Although weddings and funerals are not the same kind of ceremonies, they share a few features: family and friends gather together over long distances, people dress up and pay their respects, a lifetime is celebrated, food and drink is almost always included, and there is often live music. Wedding costs include things like photographers and elaborate clothes; funerals come with the need for a casket and a cemetery plot.
In the end, the amount of money you pay for a funeral does not reflect how much you loved the deceased; that can only exist in your heart and in your memories. Never feel obligated to pay more than you are able, and, when possible, plan ahead so that budgetary restraints are something the whole family can talk about together in advance.