7 Ways to Save Money on a Funeral
The average funeral costs about $9,000, which can be an enormous burden on a family that’s just lost a loved one. However, if you’re looking for a more affordable funeral option, there are lots of ways to reduce your costs and still do something very meaningful. Here are 7 tips for a cheap funeral that honors the life of your loved one.
1. Opt for cremation over burial
Burial costs can add up quickly. Here are some rough averages you can expect:
- Cemetery plot (with opening and closing): $1,500
- Casket: $2,000
- Burial vault: $1,000
- Headstone: $1,500
As you can see, that adds up to about $6,000 - before including services from a funeral home. Meanwhile, the average direct cremation costs about $2,000, and if you shop around, you can often find prices under $1,000.
2. Get price lists from several funeral homes
Funeral homes prices can vary widely for the exact same services, and many don’t share their price lists on their website. Before making a decision, call a few local funeral homes and ask them to email you their general price lists, or use our funeral planning tool to easily get quotes from funeral homes that match your needs. This will help you know if you’re getting a good value.
3. Choose direct cremation or immediate burial
If you don’t feel the need to having a viewing or service with the body present, a direct cremation or immediate burial may be a good way to save. Offered by most funeral homes, these tend to be the most basic cremation and burial packages, usually covering the pickup and transport of the body, basic preparation and the handling of necessary paperwork. Crematory or cemetery fees may be extra.
4. Donate the body to science
Donation to science is a great way to keep costs minimal, while helping with important medical training and research. Most university anatomical donation programs cover transportation and cremation costs (following use), which can save you thousands. If you donate the body to science, you may still choose to work with a funeral home, but you don’t need to. Find a program near you.
5. Opt out of embalming
Embalming (the process of adding chemicals to a dead body in order to slow decomposition) is rarely required and costs $725 on average, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Plus, by opting out of embalming, you’ll decrease the amount of formaldehyde that gets released into the ground which impacts the health of the environment.
6. Purchase the casket or urn online
Caskets can be one of the most expensive purchasing decisions in the funeral planning process. Fortunately, it’s often easy to find the same or similar caskets that the funeral home sells but online at a significantly lower price point. You can even buy a casket on Amazon.
7. Select a free venue for the service
Funerals homes generally charge a few hundred dollars to use their staff and facilities for a service, but there are lots of places that you can hold one for free. Consider asking to hold the service at your place of worship, or think outside the box and consider hosting a celebration of life in a public area, such as a favorite park.
If you're planning a funeral, consider using our funeral planning tool to help you identify what matters most in the planning process. Once filled out, you'll receive a checklist of questions to consider and quick links to help you plan a beautiful memorial and funeral service.