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Funerals can be very expensive, with the average funeral in the United States costing several thousand dollars. The average cost of a funeral can vary greatly by location (for average funeral costs in your state please see our Average Funeral Pricing Page). That being said, there are practical ways to save on costs without being “cheap”. One of the most difficult factors in controlling costs for a funeral is feeling guilty by not paying more or going with the “best” option. However, the suggestions below will show that you can spend less and get more by being savvy.
1. Cremation or Burial
Cremation is almost always less expensive than a burial. You should review your loved one’s wishes and always follow them. If they wished to be cremated or were silent on their wishes, cremation is the most effective way to spend less on a funeral (see Cremation Vs. Burial: How to Decide). The reason cremation is a less expensive option than burial is due to there not needing to be a casket (see number 2 below), transportation to the cemetery (or between the funeral home, church and cemetery), and the purchase of a plot. Caskets and plots are generally some of the most expensive costs associated with a funeral, so by forgoing them you can save money or spend the saved money on other costs.
2. Purchase a Casket Online or from a Third Party
Caskets are often purchased from the funeral home during the funeral planning process (see Buying a Casket: What You Need to Know). However, caskets are commonly marked up significantly at a funeral home. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires by law that a funeral home accept a casket purchased from a third party. There are many casket manufacturers that will sell a casket online and ship it anywhere in the continental United States within 24 hours. While you may feel funny buying a casket online, remember that the funeral homes are most likely purchasing caskets from the exact same manufacturers.
3. Comparison Shop and Negotiate Funeral Services
The Funeral Rule required funeral homes to list their funeral services on a general price list. You should be able to get a copy of the general price list and compare different funereal homes. You can use our search to get general pricing from different funeral homes in your area. Comparison shopping can not only inform you of your options and how much different products and services cost but will give you the information needed to negotiate a better price. Remember, all services and goods are generally negotiable. If you are not in the right state of mind to take on the stress of negotiating or comparison shop lean on other family members or friends who are willing to help you with the funeral planning process.
4.Purchase Flowers Online
Like caskets purchases above, flowers can be a significant cost in any funeral or memorial service. Most funeral homes will have a relationship with a local florist or will operate a flower shop themselves. While it will usually be easier and more convenient to leave the floral arrangements to the funeral director, you can order your own flowers and save money. You can order funeral and sympathy flowers from FTD, ProFlowers, or FloristOne. All of which carry a large selection of funeral and sympathy flowers for reasonable prices. Obitia’s Flower Shop works with FloristOne which places your flower order with a local florist in your area. The florist will then arrange and deliver your flowers to the delivery address you have requested. Same-day delivery is available in many cases.
Host a Memorial Service or Reception at Home
While it is most common to have a wake, viewing, to memorial service at the funeral home, you are under no obligation to do so. While a funeral home will be well versed in hosting and managing a wake or viewing, you can always hold a wake or memorial service for your loved one at home or a family member’s home. You can have a potluck or make the food yourself if catering is not an option as well. Hosting a memorial service at home may also be more comforting to friends and family.
As can be seen from these suggestions, you can save money without giving up anything by simply purchasing products directly from sellers, comparing and negotiating pricing, and holding the memorial or wake at a private home. Planning a funeral is stressful without the added emotions of losing someone, so if any of the above suggestions seem like it is too much work make sure to ask for help from friends and family. They will most likely be more than willing to assist you.