When planning a funeral, few people are prepared or fully informed to make smart financial decisions. Also very few people bargain while making purchases related to a funeral service. As a result, the cost of funeral becomes much higher than expected.
The average cost of a funeral (excluding cemetery expenses) according to National Funeral Directors Association is around $10,000 in the US. Remember that not everyone are in the position to make arrangement of such a huge amount within a few days, especially after the unexpected death of a loved one. It is true that funeral planning can be expensive, but there are cost cutting tips that can make funeral arrangements fit your budget.
Some of the cost cutting tips for funeral are:
Know about funeral law:
The Funeral Rule described by Funeral Trade Commission is something that everyone must be aware of. There are various laws related to funeral that vary from state to state and so it becomes very essential to know what rules and laws are applicable in your state. The funeral rules and laws will give you a basic idea related to what are important things that you have to include in a funeral and the list of products and services that fall in the optional category. This way no funeral home can compel you to buy unnecessary things and you can make some smart choices.
Plan things in a systematic manner:
Do not be impulsive while shopping for funeral products and goods. It is true that for planning a funeral you have just three to four days times and there are endless numbers of things to do. Take some time and make a list of things and then start your shopping. When things are done in a systematic and planned way, you can surely save a lot of money. Also do not try to do everything on your own. Take help from others and discuss things with people who have some knowledge in funeral planning.
Compare funeral home prices:
It is not at all a good idea to choose a funeral home without doing any research. You can save a lot of money when a proper funeral home is selected. As prices for the same service vary from one funeral home to another, it is better to look around and then make a decision. Talk to three to four funeral homes and get their General Price List (GPL) so that you can compare the prices of the services and products offered by them. According to the Federal Trade Commission a funeral home cannot deny giving customers a General Price List if they ask for it. You can ask for a GPL via mail or phone also.
Choose cremation over burial:
One of the best ways to cut down the cost of a funeral is to choose cremation instead of burial. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a traditional funeral with embalming, viewing and a metal casket is $7,300. This cost does not include the cemetery plot, headstone and grave opening and closing fees. However with cremation you can at least save some thousands of dollars. When you choose cremation over burial you do not have to spend money on buying a cemetery plot, buying a casket as for cremation you can always use a rented one, no need to buy a headstone, and you will not have to spend money on grave opening and closing. Also the significance of the funeral service will remain the same in case of cremation as it is with a burial disposition.
Utilize the benefits of being a veteran:
If you are a part of the Veterans Administration then you can enjoy many burial benefits such as a gravesite in one of the national cemeteries with available space. Also you do not have to pay money for opening and closing of the grave, government headstone, and burial flag and so on. Even spouses and dependent children are also eligible for such benefits.
Consider body donation:
If the budget is low or it is not possible for you to plan a funeral, you can always consider donating the body to a medical school. You just have to inform a medical school about your wish and they will make arrangements to take the dead body to their medical school. Once the donated body is studied properly by the medical students, it becomes the duty of the medical school to bury the cremated remains in a community plot or scatter the ashes at some holy place. If requested, some schools will give the ashes to the family.
Buy casket or urn from outside:
It is not necessary to buy a casket or urn from the funeral home chosen by you. Also no funeral home has the right to put pressure on you to buy a casket or urn from them only. It has been found that the cost of a casket or urn is much higher at funeral homes as compared to when you buy it from any other outside vendor. Funeral directors cannot charge a fee if you wish to use a casket or urn purchased from outside. Also you need to resist pressure and must not buy goods and services you do not need or want. This way you can literally save a huge amount of money.
Hold the funeral service in a park:
When you plan a funeral service at some religious venue or funeral home, you will have to give some fee. Instead of that you can hold a funeral in a city, state or national park. You can also plan a funeral at some local park. This way you do not have to pay any fees and you can use the money in making other arrangements for the funeral.
Consider a home funeral:
It is legal to conduct a home funeral in many of the US states. Also according to law it is not compulsory to use a funeral home to take care of a dead body. Get the death certificate; and take care of the body of the deceased at home with the help of dry ice. After one or two days make arrangement for transforming the body to the cemetery or crematory depending upon whether it will be a burial or cremation. The rituals performed during a home funeral will give due respect and honor to the departing soul.
Flowers play an important role during a funeral service, but then also you can avoid it. Flowers can be very expensive and you can save some money if you decide not to use them. Today people prefer donation instead of flowers. Instead of flowers you can request the guests to make some donation to a funeral fund or charity. if you want flowers to decorate the funeral venue, consider using the flowers from your gardens and those of friends and family.
To conclude, in case of limited budget or not being able to arrange money for a funeral service, you do not have to worry much. With the above mentioned tips you can always plan a funeral with a limited budget. Remember that it is your feelings and emotions towards the deceased that will matter the most and not the amount of money you spend on organizing a funeral.
Some useful resources:
Filed under: Funeral