close

Tips For Reducing Funeral Costs

reducing funeral costs

Yesterday we learned that the average cost of a funeral today is $7,181 according to the National Funeral Directors Association. If you jump to that post, you'll see a breakdown of the costs associated with a typical funeral service.  In my view, funerals are very personal experiences and should mirror the wishes of the deceased as well as the family members.  To that end, you probably don't need everything in the list below… You may just need a few items!

Typical Funeral Costs

  • Nondeclinable basic services fee
  • Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home
  • Embalming
  • Other preparation of the body
  • Use of facilities/staff for viewing
  • Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony
  • Hearse
  • Service car/van
  • Basic memorial printed package
  • Metal casket and/or Vault

RELATED: HOW MUCH DOES A FUNERAL COST?

Typical Cremation Costs

In fact you may only need cremation services (which typically requires transportation of the body, and full documentation as required by state law).  Don't forget to provide something to put the ashes in once cremation is final.  There are many options here, and we've listed a few of them below.

  • Transportation services (for the body) to the crematorium
  • Cremation casket (combustable, also used for safe transport of body)
  • Applicable permits (check your state's requirements)
    • Permit to cremate (from medical examiner)
    • Death certificate (from a doctor)
    • Transportation permit (from police station or town clerk)
  • Container/Urn for the ashes (discuss with crematorium, size matters)

RELATED: FUNERAL DIRECTORS MIGHT NOT TELL YOU THIS
Tips on reducing funeral costs


Tips For Reducing Funeral Costs

  • Decide what's best for your own unique situation
    • What can you afford?
    • What would the rest of the extended family want?
    • What would the deceased have wished for?
  • Shop around
    • Remember, the FTC Funeral Rule means that you can pick and choose what options you want, AND the funeral home must provide you a la carte pricing for those options (even over the phone).
  • You can work directly with a funeral home, or you can work directly with a crematorium (if cremation is your preferred option).
  • All funeral homes will offer direct burial options and direct cremation options, though they don't advertise these options.
  • Big box retailers like Costco and Walmart have begun selling caskets and urns.
    • Costco's caskets run from $949.99 to $1,899.99
    • Costco's urns run from $89.99 to $199.99
      • “The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else — or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.” – FTC Funeral Rule
  • Host an “Open House” instead of a funeral procession. Call your local church or community center to see if you can rent space for a memorial service.  You'll have more options if you don't require the body to be present.  You can even host an open house at your home, or the home of a friend/relative.  Have friends and family members help with food, drinks, and memories.
  • Donate the body to a Medical School
    • You can call your local medical school about donating the diseased's body to the medical school.
    • Many individuals are choosing this option when they are alive to spare relatives of making this difficult decision.  Content forms need to be signed, and in some cases this needs to be noted in a will.
    • After scientific study and/or research is complete, the medical schools will frequently send the body off for cremation services and return those remains to the family.
  • Apply for Social Security survivor benefits
    • Social Security must be notified in the event of a death (funeral directors normally do this).  A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased. Other Social Security benefits may also be disbursed to eligible family members, so be sure to visit the Social Security website or call 1-800-772-1213 to understand your options.

Photo credit: Mike Quinn

Do you have additional tips on reducing funeral costs? There are so many great ideas out there, that we've only scratched the surface!  Let us know in the comments below.

53 Comments

  1. You’ve got great tips for saving money on a funeral. I like how you said that shopping around for different funeral homes and options is a way to save money. Luckily, I’m trying to pre-plan our funeral so we’ve got time to shop!

  2. I like how you suggested to shop around for urns. My grandpa wants to be cremated and placed in an urn. Thanks for the information on how to reduce funeral costs.

  3. The cost of a funeral is always the biggest conversation, thank you for sharing ways to save when planning a funeral. – Central Funeral Homes

  4. I’ve been wanting to get in touch with a funeral director, and I think that getting some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to reduce funeral costs, and I think that would be good to look into. I’m going to have to look for some good options and figure out what we can do with our funeral director to save money!

  5. I thought it was really helpful how you pointed out that you can shop around when looking for a funeral home and trust that the funeral home will give you a la carte pricing options that are fair. This will be helpful for my wife who was recently put in charge of helping to plan the funeral for one of her close relatives. I’d imagine taking the time to shop around would not only get you the best prices, but would also the most amount of services too.

  6. I didn’t realize that all funeral homes offer direct cremation options without advertising them. My family is considering what would be the best option for my great-grandfather if he passes away soon since he was recently placed in a hospital after falling in the bathroom. We feel as a family that we should look into cremation services if the worst happens, but we’ll see.

  7. I really liked that you had recommended shopping around to find the funeral home that offers what you’re looking for. My father in law passed away yesterday and my wife has been very upset and I’ve taken the task of setting up the funeral. When I start looking around I’ll be making sure that I find a funeral home that can help us get his needs met.

  8. My uncle just died and his kids want to give him a funeral viewing that won’t stretch their budget too thinly. So thank you for suggesting that we look at some big box services to buy the casket from since they are cheaper. I’ll be sure to tell my cousins to look at Cosco or Walmart for the casket they will have their uncle in for the funeral viewing.

  9. Thanks for the tips for spending less on a funeral. My grandmother has asked me to help her plan her funeral, and we are trying to do it on a tight budget. I like your idea to host an open house by renting a space for a memorial service. That could be cheaper than having a regular funeral procession. I will see how my grandma feels about that.

  10. That’s good to know that the FTC rules require homes to disclose their costs. Mourning can make it really difficult to think. Knowing that you have accurate prices seems useful because of that.

  11. One of my friends recently passed away so my wife and I have been looking for ways to prepare for the funeral. I like that you suggest calling your local church or community center to ask about rental space for the services. We’ll have to see what centers are around that would do something like this. Thanks for the help!

  12. My uncle just passed away and we want to make sure we find the best funeral home to help us hold the best services for him. Thank you for talking about how it is a good idea to find a funeral home that can help you get only the services you need from them. I can see how doing this can help you save a ton of money and stress when planning for the funeral you want to have.

  13. My grandmother is getting pretty old and my family is thinking it would be a good idea for us to preplan her funeral. I liked that you pointed out that funeral home will be able to give you different options when it comes to cost. I guess we should figure out what funeral home we want to use first.

  14. It really helped when you talked about how it is important to shop around when planning a funeral. I can see how doing this can help you weigh your options and choose a funeral home that can accommodate your plans and where you can feel taken care of in this time of need. As I see it, taking the time to plan ahead can help you make sure you make calm decisions and help your family avoid the stress of having to pay for your funeral on their own.

  15. My grandmother recently has died, so my father and I are trying to think about how to budget a funeral service for her. I think having a cremation service will be best, since you mention that it can save loved ones money in comparison with burials. She would’ve wanted us to save money instead of spending $1,000 on a casket.

  16. Thanks for the tips for reducing funeral costs. My grandmother has asked me to help her plan her funeral in advance, and we are looking for ways to keep it cheap. I like that you mentioned that you can donate the body to a medical school. My grandmother might really like that idea, because she loves to help others. I will ask her about this.

  17. I had no idea that Costco sold urns and caskets. While that is nice for people who really need to plan a funeral on a budget. I would rather save some money somewhere else and get a nice casket for my loved one.

  18. I like that you recommend to have an open house at your home or at the local church. I know that I really enjoyed the atmosphere of having the viewing at a church when the person was a faithful member of that church. I think that religion is either something you are deeply connected to or aren’t connected at all. I agree that if the deceased member was a devoted church member, then it could be a good idea to have the viewing at that church.

  19. My wife and I had no idea that an average cost of a funeral was around eight thousand dollars! My wife’s mother is getting pretty old and so we are forced to think about what we are going to do when she passes away. We are thinking about cremation. The least we can do is provide a beautiful service — does not matter how much we have to pay. Thanks for the post!

  20. I really like your tip about making sure that you shop around when it comes to planning a funeral. That is definitely something that we will have to keep in mind while we are planning my dad’s funeral. Hopefully, we can find a great service to help us through the process along with these tips, thank you for sharing!

  21. Thanks for the tips for lowering funeral costs. I agree that shopping around is a great way to find a good deal for the things you want. My mom is getting really old, so we need to start looking into some of these funeral options.

  22. I didn’t realize so many factors went into the expenses of a body burial. On the other hand, it’s really good to know there are many options for what can be done with the body of a deceased person. I can imagine it would be difficult to know the right route to take but I like that in this article it mentions making a decision before you or the loved one passes away and putting it in a will to make it a little easier on those left behind.

  23. I had no idea that the FTC Funeral Rule that the funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else. I also appreciate your tip to have an “Open House” instead of a funeral procession. My mother-in-law recently was very stressed out planning her fathers funeral; I will definitely be applying many of these tips so that my children don’t have to be stressed when I pass away with planning for and paying for my funeral.

  24. I’d never heard that funeral homes can offer direct burial options, before. I’m glad you mentioned it, though, because as you said, they might not offer it up front unless you ask for it. I wonder if this is the same for funeral homes in my area. We are preparing for the death of my mother because of how ill she is, and for some reason, figure out funeral options gives me closure.

  25. I didn’t know that working directly with the funeral home or crematorium will help your reduce costs. I’m sure, though, that these types of places offer different types of packages that you can buy, which would provide all services at a competitive price. Plus, it makes it easier to just buy everything at once. Thanks for the insight.

  26. Judging from the article it seems like cremation is the cheaper option. There are just fewer things to worry about. I wonder what the greatest cost of the actual funeral is. My grandfather recently passed away. He never mentioned exactly how he wanted his funeral to go. We still have to go over a few things before we make a decision.

  27. I had no idea that are so many documents needed in order to perform a cremation. Your tip to check with the state to see what is required is a good way to be prepared before the cremation. Starting a file at the time of death that compiles all documents including death certificate would be a good way to have everything organized and in one place.

  28. I like your tip about hosting an open house instead of a funeral procession. The only thing with this, is there might not be a home available to the family that can hold all of the guests. It would be stressful to be betting on everyone not coming at the same time. I will have to look into it and make even set up a place for such an open house in advance. Thanks for all of the helpful information!

  29. are crematory services really cheaper than a traditional funeral? I think that it would make a huge difference just because then you wouldn’t have to worry about cost as much. It is also quicker to deal with in my opinion. You don’t have to wait for the burial you can take the urn back home or wherever the person wanted the urn to be at.

  30. I didn’t realize that you needed a permit to be cremated from a medical examiner. I am helping my grandmother plan out her funeral and figure out how to cover all the costs. She has been thinking that she wants to be cremated. Do we get the permit to be cremated before she passes away? Thanks for the information!

  31. I honestly had no idea that cremation caskets could be a much cheaper than normal ones. My grandmother just passed and our financial situation isn’t the best right now, so we were a little worried. I’ll have to let my family know that cremation could potentially be cheaper for her funeral services. Thanks for the advice.

  32. I haven’t really thought about my own funeral because I feel like I am still young. Although, I do not think it would hurt to plan ahead and write some idea down so I would not have to think about it later. I did not know that you could get funeral services a la carte, I will have to remember that later.

  33. Thanks for the breakdown of what all you normally pay for in a funeral. I had no idea that funerals could cost on average of $7200. I’ll have to make sure that I find a decently priced funeral home now so that when someone in my family dies I can have a funeral home ready.

  34. I figure it never hurts to learn tips for saving. I actually didn’t realize that Costco and Walmart have begun selling caskets and urns. I shop at Costco all of the time, so this is good to know. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Welcome to Caribe Funeral Home! Caribe funeral home newest and biggest funeral home in Brooklyn serving a community of all New York. We believe in personal attention and uncompromising quality. We are proud of our long-standing traditions, our serene facilities and steadfast commitment to serving families in their deepest time of need. [edited by admin for links]

  36. Thanks for this article! I love how you give such great suggestions for reducing the costs of a funeral. I love how you suggest using Costco or Walmart, these stores have always given great prices. I have recently had a family member pass away and we have found so many pricey options for the funeral. I hope I will be able to take your advice into consideration and comfortably lay my mother to rest. Thanks again, I sincerely appreciate your thorough explanations.

  37. I like the recommendation to shop around for the best deals for a funeral. I think this could be an effective way of reducing costs without sacrificing luxuries. I’ll have to keep this in mind when planning my mom’s funeral.

  38. I don’t want my family to pay the full price for my funeral, so these tips could help ease the financial burden from them when I eventually pass away. It helps that I can work directly with funeral homes for burial and cremation options so that I can find out what would be more affordable. I didn’t know that they don’t advertise these options, so I’ll make sure to ask about what my direct cremation options are. Thanks for the tips!

  39. My younger sister is fighting cancer right now, but the doctors have said that she isn’t going to make it and might have three months to live. In fact, my parents have asked me to be in charge of making plans for her funeral, including picking out a casket when the time is right. However, I had no idea that Walmart or Costco sold caskets. Are the caskets sold by these retailers at the same quality that might be found at a funeral home? I want my sister to have the best.

    1. Faylinn, It depends on what the local funeral home is stocking. Look at the options from the Big-Box stores and compare to what your local funeral home is offering. Do a little local research, and you’ll make a good decision…I’m confident of that.

  40. There are quite a few ways that people can cut the costs of funeral services. I think one of the best ways to cut those costs is through cremation. Like you said, all you would really need is something to put the ashes in. You would also want to make sure that you have the permission from the family first.

  41. I had no idea that there were so many ways to help reduce costs for funerals. There seems to be so many fees that I’m not quite sure which ones to focus on. But for the most part, it sounds like I should just talk to a funeral home director. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Thanks for sharing! I appreciate your list of costs that come along with cremation. My mother’s expected passing just happened, and she expressed her desire to be cremated. I’ll be sure to talk to the crematorium about what size urn we should get for her ashes.

  43. Thank you for the help. My grandfather passed away and we are quickly trying to plan the funeral. I have heard that it is a good idea to work directly with the funeral home, as you mentioned. If nothing else, does that help consolidate costs and spending?

    1. You certainly can work directly with them Justin. They are required by law (here in the U.S.) to provide you with prices ahead of time so you can cost compare. It’s not as bad as it used to be… but it’s still a “buyer beware” marketplace. Ask friends and family for referrals, and do your research online. – All the best, TSL

  44. Funerals can be really expensive and it can put a lot of stress on the family. It might be a good idea to ask your loved one who is passing away if they are okay with cremation. You could still hold a service, but the costs seem like they would be much lower.

  45. My grandma is about to pass away, and my mom wants to start planning her funeral right away. The problem though, is that we don’t have a ton of money to spend on one. Now, that being the case I really appreciate you sharing some insight with me about this. I learned a lot from you, and I definitely think that if my mom follows your tips that she’ll be able to save quite a bit of money on this funeral. Thanks a ton for the help.

  46. My grandfather recently passed away, and he wanted to be cremated. I’m happy to see that there are so many affordable options we can use to store my grandfather’s ashes. I personally wasn’t aware that Costco sold urns, or that other big retailers carry them as well. I’ll make sure to look around at my local stores to see what they have in stock. Thank you for the information!

  47. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to shop around when planning for a funeral. My husband’s mother passed away recently, and he’s been a big part of the planning process. The budget isn’t very large, so they need to find ways to save, so I’ll definitely suggest to him to look at several different places before making a decision. Thanks for the great post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.