Frugal Funeral Planning: Tips for a Funeral on a Budget
Are you a firm believer that you shouldn't have to spend an arm and a leg for your funeral? We agree! This post by Urns Online has great tips on how to save money for your funeral.
Frugal Funeral Planning
We consolidated the tips down to 27 (we chose the ones we thought were the best), the original post calls for 50, to see their full article click here.
Some of these frugal funeral planning tips are just about asking the right questions. Others are designed for the crafty and creative DIY crowd. Some may be present an approach you didn’t realize was a possibility, and others you may find just don’t suit your circumstances. That’s ok – there are plenty of ideas, and utilizing just one or two of these can save you quite a bit in the wide world of funeral products and services.
The keys to an affordable funeral on a budget are simple: research and educate yourself, ask questions, consider alternatives, shop around, and do-it-yourself. Remember that you may have many willing family members who would love to take on some of these tasks, so don’t be afraid to delegate if that is an option. Also, don’t try to do every one of these because you’ll certainly overwork yourself. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a professional to help – that’s what they are there for, and that’s why many people choose the professionals!
So take into account your limitations of both finances and time and energy, then use this list and these frugal funeral planning tips as best as you can.
25 Tips for a Funeral on a Budget
1. Educate yourself.
Reading articles like this is the perfect start, of course. But learn a little more about final arrangements options as well. For instance, direct cremation is a very low-cost cremation option, and there are many “traditional” services you can forego to lower the bill.
2. Shop around.
Call up the funeral homes in your area and ask for pricing. This will also help you decide if the funeral home is the right fit – if they get short and snippy, you’ll know it’s not a good fit. If they are friendly and helpful in explaining their pricing, it’s probably a great, service-oriented facility.
3. Be up front about wanting to keep costs down.
Tell the funeral home you would like to keep costs to a minimum. It’s their job to make arrangements that suit your needs, and they can help you best when they know what you want.
4. Ask for an itemized price list.
Once you’ve decided on a funeral home, ask for an itemized price list in advance of all the services you will be purchasing. This will ensure you don’t have any surprise charges tacked on.
Just by talking about pricing, you may be able to work with a funeral home or crematorium to get better rates on certain products or services.
6. Set a budget.
Research average and low cost ideas beforehand so that your budget is reasonably attainable, but set a budget and stick to it.
7. Consider a different burial/disposition site.
You may go with Funeral Home A, but find that the cemetery at Funeral Home C is either closer, more beautiful to visit, or less expensive.
8. Pre-plan as much as possible.
The more you and your loved ones pre-plan for your funerals, the less “in the moment” decisions need to be made. Those are typically the more expensive ones.
9. Make the obituary brief.
Often, publications such as newspapers charge per word. Make it short for big savings.
10. Bring a relative or friend.
When you go to the funeral home to discuss arrangements, bring along a friend or relative who can be a little more impartial. Most funeral directors are genuinely helpful and non-manipulative, but you’ll be surprised at how strong the pull is to add all the little bells and whistles. Having someone else there who knows what you want and what your budget is will help you save.
11. Skip the embalming.
More and more, the trend is away from the formaldehyde used in embalming. It’s terrible for the environment, and, more to the point of this article, it adds to your final bill. Take in consideration that if you are having visitation it's better to be embalmed, this preserves the body better, otherwise you will need to have a speedy funeral.
12. Ask for low-cost burial plot locations.
Sometimes cemeteries will charge more or less depending on the location of the burial plot. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
13. Skip the burial vault.
Many cemeteries will require a burial vault in order to protect their grounds. However, state laws do not require one, so you may be able to call around and find a site which does not require a vault.
14. Skip the burial.
If you chose cremation, you can save on funeral costs by not burying the remains at a cemetery. Instead, you can scatter the ashes or keep the remains at home.
15. Limit visitation.
Ask about the different rates for visitation at the funeral home. Lessening the visitation by one or more days will often bring down the cost.
16. Rent an urn or casket.
Depending on what you choose to do for the final disposition, renting an urn or casket for the funeral or memorial service might make sense.
17. Ask about discounted urns/coffins.
You can ask the funeral home or most online retailers, they may have scratch-and-dent, discontinued, or unlisted low-end items that they can offer you at more affordable prices.
18. Don’t buy an urn at all.
The funeral home or crematorium will give you the remains in a plastic bag inside of a durable plastic or cardboard box. They call it a “temporary urn,” but you can make it permanent if you like.
19. Supply your own flowers.
If the funeral home supplies them, it will likely cost more than getting them yourself from a local florist, or from your own flower garden.
20. Don’t buy a new suit for the funeral.
Of course you will want to be respectful in how you dress, but you don’t need to purchase new clothing such as a suit or dress for the service.
21. Check for veteran’s benefits.
If you or your loved one was a military service member, they will often have burial and funeral benefits available to them.
22. Do your own invites and Thank You cards.
Funeral homes will have nice options, but generally you can save big by choosing an alternative source. Send e-invites for free. Get dollar-store cards that you hand write or print at home. Even simple ordered from a local print shop will most likely be less.
23. Consider alternate reception venues.
Churches, community centers, homes, and even parks can provide a location for the funeral reception. These often cost less than the funeral home facilities (but not always).
24. Make your own decorative memorials.
Whether for use at the funeral/memorial service or for a special display area in your home, here are 11 nifty memorial crafts you can easily do yourself.
25. Ask for donations instead of flowers.
Everyone understands that sometimes money is tight. It’s ok to ask that people skip the $20-150 flower arrangements and instead provide a donation to help cover the funeral costs.
26. Start a crowdfund to cover funeral costs.
Deposit a Gift is a crowdfunding website designed to help bereaved families in need. Go Fund Me is another popular option. We don't really like that, but it's just our own opinion, we recommend that you start a funeral fund instead, start saving to a separate account just for that.
27. Donate your body to science.
This is the ultimate saver, it will cost you zero and you will be helping future generations. Here is how you can do that.
Have any other ideas on how to save money? tell us in the comments below.