The first and most truthful tip to save money on funeral expenses is to be aware of all the options before the need arises. When faced with the death of a loved one, is it possible to show them all the honor and dignity they deserve, and still save money on funeral expenses? The answer is yes.
A traditional funeral can cost an average of $7,000 to $10,000 or more. Unless life insurance was carried, or a loved one had prepaid, the expenses can place an extra burden on an already emotionally draining situation. Following are some tips to help save some money, and still give your loved one an honorable ceremony.
Choosing a casket
It use to be the law that funeral directors were the only ones who offered a range of caskets at varying prices. Now, a person can select one on their own for far less money. This is especially helpful if you are preplanning. Caskets can be ordered and shipped to the funeral home and save a mark-up expense. www.dignifiedcaskets.com
The truth is, embalming is only useful if the deceased body is going to be shipped across the state or country. It is not a requirement by law to have to be embalmed. And, embalming really has little affect on body preservation.
If a loved one received an honorable discharge from the US armed services, they are entitled to a free headstone. The Veterans Administration also provides a flag at no charge. Also the deceased is entitled to be buried (at no cost) in any of the 125 national veterans cemeteries located throughout the USA. Contact your local Department of Veterans Affairs for further information.
For non-veterans, headstones will cost more if they are big and elaborate. The more ornate and detailed, the greater the expense. Some cemeteries only allow flat engraved stones to allow for mowing. It would be wise to ask ahead of time, if you have selected a cemetery.
Cremation is the least expensive way to have a funeral. There is no burial plot to pay for. A headstone is not necessary if ashes are to be kept in an urn, or scattered at some favorite site of your deceased loved one.
If you have a private service, instead of a a funeral service, you can save even more on final expenses. It is becoming more common to hold a “celebration of life” at a favorite place the deceased loved one might have enjoyed, rather than using a funeral home for the service.
Funeral flowers are costly. Yet, with good taste, a smaller amount of flowers can still be beautiful. Single roses for each family member to place on the casket at a burial site, will be just as meaningful. Further, it is customary for other family and/or friends to send flowers to a funeral home when holding a wake.
Just as more people are choosing to give birth at home, some choose to die at home. Home funerals are growing, as an alternative to a funeral parlor. Years ago it was common for the deceased service to be held in what was now called the living room. At that time it was called the family parlor.
Some choose to forgo hiring someone to put on make-up and hair styling. These two services alone cost around $800. For more information on home funerals, send for a free booklet at www.homefuneralmanual.org
Private life celebration
If a wake is held, and in some cases twice for viewing, afternoons and nights on the same day, this runs the cost up. Funeral directors charge for every separate viewing.
Some choose to have a private memorial service at a later date instead. This can take place in the home, a park, or some favorite place the deceased loved to visit. Friends and family can still gather together and share memories in honor of the loved one.
Life insurance and/or preplanning
It is a gift to your loved ones to plan funeral wishes ahead of time. Now, if you choose a plan and prepay, you get locked into a price and the funeral director is bound by the contract not to add further expenses. This also helps take the burden off of loved ones, knowing the deceased’s wishes are being honored. Family and friends are spared wondering what one would have wanted.
By law, funeral directors must supply an itemized contract that can not be changed despite inflation or future rising prices. If one can afford life insurance, that can be a bonus for those who have the responsibility to carry out last wishes.
Today, there are more options to choose from. It is wise to compare prices of local funeral directors ahead of time. Funeral arrangements are no fun to talk about, but they are a sad reality we all need to come to terms with. Not knowing how to save money with funeral expenses just adds to an already difficult loss.