How to Budget for a Funeral
Funeral planning is difficult enough without the strain it puts on your finances. If your loved one did not make pre-plan funeral arrangements or have a life insurance policy to help cover funeral costs, you could be facing a final bill of anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars—an amount few families can afford out of pocket even under the best of circumstances.
Budgeting for a funeral after death has occurred is not fun or easy, but it can help you make important decisions as you move through the funeral planning process. Here are a few tips for making it through the tricky money questions when you sit down with a funeral director for the first time.
- Know How Much You Plan to Spend: Only you can determine how much money you have to spend on the funeral. Whether you are covering the costs yourself or the money is coming out of the deceased’s estate, come up with a firm amount ahead of time. This will help you stay on budget and avoid overspending on unnecessary items.
- Get a Copy of the General Price List: Being blindsided by costs is the fastest way to overspend on a funeral. Ask the funeral home for a copy of the Price List ahead of time (they are required by law to give it to you). Take some time at home going over the prices—from bulk packages on down to every a la carte item—so that you know what to expect.
- Prioritize Your List: Maybe you absolutely must have a cemetery plot near the rest of the family, but you don’t care quite as much about embalming. Perhaps funeral flowers mean a lot to you, but you don’t need there to be a service at the grave. There is no right or wrong way to have a funeral, so prioritize what matters to you (and to the rest of your family). By ranking items in order of importance, you might be able to save on some of the lesser items on your checklist.
- Comparison Shop: If you are finding it impossible to plan a funeral on your budget at one funeral home, visit another one. Be honest about your expectations and firm about what you are willing to spend. You might be able to find a discount or an alternate way of planning the funeral.
- DIY Where You Can: Creating your own funeral flower displays, holding the memorial service in a private residence instead of the funeral home, scattering the ashes instead of having them interred in an urn…there are plenty of ways you can take over some of the tasks yourself and save money.
We are often told that “budget” and “funeral” should never go together, or that spending less on a loved one’s burial is a sign of disrespect—but the truth is that the majority of Americans are unable to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for an elaborate burial. Even if you didn’t plan ahead with a pre-arranged funeral, there is still plenty of time to save money and say goodbye to your loved one in a fitting manner with a proper funeral budget.