How to Have a Cheap But Meaningful Funeral
Published June 30, 2020
There are no guaranteed things in life, except death. That much is true for all human beings.
Throughout history, different cultures have different ways of dealing with death. But in modern times, disposing of the dead has become an industry of its own. In fact, it’s estimated that the funeral industry in the US alone is worth around $20 billion per year.
It’s no wonder then that dying is now considered more expensive than living. Since the market is largely unregulated, funeral companies usually get away with charging exorbitant prices. Coffins, for example, are often sold at 900% of their manufacturing costs. And total funeral expenses can go as high as $9,000.
This is why more and more people are seeking cheap funeral options that won’t put their families in debt. Some funeral companies are also offering an affordable, no-frills funeral service. But you can always do it on your own to save more.
Here are some ways you can have a cheap yet meaningful funeral.
1. Choose a Burial Option That’s Worth Every Penny
The burial often takes up a huge chunk of the overall funeral expenses. But it’s not usually about choosing the cheapest option. Choosing your body’s final resting place is a very personal decision. There are several factors to be considered such as religion, budget, and closure. This is why an affordable burial varies for each person.
Some of the most common burial methods today are:
This is generally considered to be one of the cheapest funeral and burial options. A simple cremation with no memorial or viewing ceremonies can only cost anywhere from $900 to $1,500. It also gives you unlimited options on what to do with the ashes. You can keep it at home, scatter the ashes at sea, or turn it into a memorabilia item. Some religions, however, have a strict stance against cremation. You won’t also be able to have a viewing ceremony.
Going green has become more and more popular in the past few years and this extends to burials. Some people choose to be buried in a more environment-friendly way. This means that embalming and concrete or metal caskets are off the table. Instead, the body is wrapped in a shroud or put in a simple wood casket and buried directly on the ground. You’re not only saving Mother Earth but your bank balance too. Hitting two birds with one stone.
Burial plots can be terribly expensive. Some can even cost as much as $2,500 depending on the cemetery. This does not include burial vaults and grave liners as well as the maintenance fee. All in all, the bill can run up to $11,000. To avoid all these, some prefer to bury their dead at home.
Home burials have been traditionally done for centuries. So it’s nothing new, but some people are (understandably) still creeped out by the idea. Currently, there are no laws prohibiting home burials but some states require using the services of a funeral director.
Though most traditional burials are a little bit on the pricey side, you can make it cheaper too. For instance, you can look for cheaper burial plots or opt for a graveside ceremony. You can also request for a simpler and more affordable casket and headstone.
Burial at Sea
Even if you’re not from the Navy, you can still be buried at sea. Sea burials are allowed in the US as long as you follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines. It’s also a lot cheaper as you won’t have to pay for burial plots, caskets, or headstones.
2. Shop Around
Funeral service companies offer different packages of varying amounts. But they are mandated by law to show a price list of their services. So make sure to shop around to get the best prices. Don’t forget to negotiate. Funeral pricing arrangements can be very flexible and they mostly adjust their services to cater to customer needs.
3. Stick to a Budget
Setting a budget beforehand can help you avoid paying for unnecessary expenses. Keep an itemized list of the services you want and how much you can or are willing to spend on them. Make sure to stick with your budget. Otherwise, it will all be for naught.
4. Keep It Simple
If you really want to save money on funerals, the key is to keep everything simple. Funeral service companies would often offer upsells. Don’t fall for this trick. Funerals don’t need to be extravagant to be meaningful.
5. Plan in Advance
People tend to make rash decisions when they’re emotional. This is often taken advantage of by funeral service companies by offering them services they don’t really need nor want. To avoid making costly decisions, plan the funeral in advance. Some people also opt to pre-pay their funerals to avoid inflation.
6. Make the Urn Yourself
If you’ve got the talent for crafts, you can make the urn yourself. Some cremation companies include urns as part of their package, but you can always opt out of it. Personalized urns are much more intimate and meaningful – not to mention really affordable too.
7. Look for Cheap Suppliers of Funeral Flowers
Flowers are a staple in most funerals. But that doesn’t mean you need to splurge hundreds of dollars on it. Aside from looking online, you can also check out local flower shops. Some of them offer great prices too.
8. Have the Funeral at Home or at Church
Holding a viewing ceremony at a funeral parlor can be expensive. Some places charge up to $500 for using their facilities along with some staff to serve the mourners. If your home has enough space, you can always hold the viewing and visiting ceremonies there. If not, you can also ask your church leader if you can hold it inside the church.
9. Don’t Rely on Funeral Directors
Except in certain circumstances, funeral directors aren’t really necessary. They’re mostly just their for convenience. If you want to save money and have a lot of time on your hands, you can organize things yourself. It’s a lot cheaper and also much more personal.
10. Donate Your Body to Science
If you really want to do away with almost all funeral costs, donating your body to science is a good option too. Body donation institutions often cover all donation related expenses including cremation and filing for a death certificate. Families can still hold a memorial ceremony after the cremains are returned to them. Viewing ceremonies are, however, not possible since the body has to be transported immediately after death.