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
- Other preparation of the body
- Use of facilities/staff for viewing
- Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony
- 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)
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.