A funeral is a necessity that no one looks forward to paying. It’s a service we will all attend at some point in our lives, a service we’ll all end up paying for, and a service we’ll eventually be the focus of.
It’s depressing, but it’s life—or death, as the case may be. And if you’re the one lumbered with paying for a funeral then you’ll want to do all that you can to reduce the costs, making sure the deceased gets the send-off that they deserve and that everyone at the funeral enjoys themselves, all while making sure that you still have money in your bank account at the end of the day.
In this guide we’ll tell you how much a funeral costs, before showing you some ways that you can save money on the many costly aspects of this event.
How Much Does a Funeral Cost?
In the United States the average funeral costs just over $8,000. But this only covers the funeral itself, along with the memorial service, viewing, and burial or cremation. It does not include food, drink, or other services that take place after the funeral, and this could add hundreds to the total cost.
The average funeral cost in the US seems to be on the rise. It rose quite sharply in the 1980s, shifting by about 90% between 1980 and 1989, and between the turn of the new millennium and now it has increased again, this time by around a third.
Of course, not all funerals cost the same and there are varied rates depending on where the funeral is being held, what type of service is being offered and whether the deceased is buried or cremated.
Speaking of which…
Burial vs Cremation
The average cost of a funeral with a cremation is around 15% to 20% less than a funeral with a burial. But this is the higher end as far as prices are concerned as some estimates suggest that the average cost of a funeral is just $4,000 to $5,000 when cremation is chosen, making cremation a good $2.000 to $3.000 cheaper than a burial.
Cremations are on the rise in the United States as more and more Americans shun the traditional burials in favor of this cheaper, more environmentally friendly option. As recently as fifteen years ago fewer than a third of all Americans were choosing to be cremated. These days, the number is closer to 50%, and experts predict that as many as two-thirds of funerals will end in cremation by 2030.
Average Cost of Funeral Caskets
The average cost of a funeral casket in the United States is $2,000, but some caskets cost upwards of $10,000. Some, labelled as “environmentally friendly” cost quite a lot less, and are designed to degrade quite quickly.
The funeral home is not like a car showroom and they are required by law to show you a full list of caskets and prices before showing you into the showroom. They do have budget options available and you should make sure these are shown to you, even though they may be trying to sway you towards a more expensive casket.
As for a cremation, a casket may be rented for a viewing, before a cheap box, made of pressboard or cardboard, is used for the actual cremation. This should cost in the hundreds, not the thousands. In fact, the cheapest caskets can cost as little as $50, with a decent quality one costing just $200.
Cost of Funeral Home Services
The services offered will dictate the price. If there is a viewing, a service, pallbearers—it can all impact on the price. A lot of funeral homes will offer these services as part of a package and whether you use them or not you will pay for them.
So, if you want to save money by removing some of these services then you will either need to ask them to be removed and then negotiate a new price, or opt for a different funeral home.
The total price of a funeral service can be anywhere from $500 to $5,000.
Other Funeral Costs
There are a number of other expenses to consider that might not have even crossed your mind. These include:
- Graveyard Plots: The actual plot is the most important part of the service and can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000.
- Gravestones: Anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000.
- Urns: If you choose to have the deceased cremated then you can save money on the graveyard fees, but also need to consider an urn, which can be anywhere from $50 to $100 for a relatively simple one, going up to $10,000 to have them turned into memorial diamonds.
- Flowers: Can cost up to $1,000, depending on the amount and type of flowers used.
Charities that Help with Funeral Costs
There are a number of charities that can help with funeral costs, but it’s not as cut and dry as you might hope. The truth is, unless you’re willing to cut a lot of corners and go for a basic funeral, then you may be better off with some kind of loan or insurance.
In fact, the best thing that you can do is to prepare for your own funeral by getting a life insurance plan that comes bundled with a funeral option. This is true for most plans, as they offer $10,000 funeral cover in the event of your demise to ensure that your loved ones don’t have the stress of paying for your funeral.
What Happens When You Can’t Afford a Funeral?
This is a situation that no one wants to find themselves in, but one that many Americans have dealt with in recent years and one that more Americans deal with during times of financial hardship.
If a family can not pay for a funeral there are financial plans offered by funeral homes that can help them. In fact, there are a number of things that they can do to try and ensure the deceased gets a respectful send-off.
Unfortunately, what many families actually choose to do is not claim the body at all, essentially absolving themselves of any responsibility. When this happens then the state will step forward and ensue that the deceased gets buried or cremated as according to their wishes. It certainly won’t be as respectful as it would be with the family present, but it’s better than the alternative.
The best way to stop this from happening is to make sure you budget for your own funeral before anything happens to you. There are plans you can invest in, insurance policies you can pay and more—all of which can help to provide your family with the money for your funeral in the event of your death.
If you don’t make the steps to do this, then how can you expect your family to do it instead?