Tuesday, July 23

10 Tips for Saving Funeral Money

How to Save for Your Funeral

There are plenty of ways in which you can save money while you also plan dignified and memorable arrangements. If you’re open to the idea of donating your body for medical research (at absolutely no cost to your family), followed by a memorial service at a church or other setting, then you can start from there.

Immediate burial or direct cremation followed by a memorial service are also cost-saving options. Veterans benefits are also widely available for those who have military service. In fact, in many states, home funerals and burials are a legal and cost-efficient option.

And no matter the type of arrangements, you can shop around. Prices for identical arrangements can differ substantially, depending on funeral homes in the same town. Here’s what you need to know:

household, hacks funeral
Photo by Jantanee Runpranomkorn from Shutterstock

Explore your options and tell your family

Do you wish to be buried or cremated, embalmed, and viewed? Where do you want to be buried or scattered? Decide on what you want and write down your wishes and share them with the ones that will take care of the process.

For instance, if you want something “simple”, and your survivors aren’t exactly sure what you mean by that, they could end up spending way more than you would have wanted. Or, if you tell them what kind of a funeral you want, without enough education, you might put a huge burden on them.

They might end up dealing with expenses far beyond what you even thought it would cost. Also, we wouldn’t advise you to put your wishes in a will or a safe deposit box, because they likely won’t be seen until other arrangements have been already made. Put all the important papers in one place.

Shop around

You wouldn’t walk into the closest dealer and decide to pick whatever car and options that the salesperson recommends, right? Well, that’s how most people buy funeral goods and services. The wide majority of people assume they need to use a nearby funeral home, or they use one they have already used before (even if they weren’t happy with it).

If you aren’t using a funeral home for a viewing or service, you also don’t need to use a local facility, and the one in a neighboring town might be only half the price. Federal law also requires funeral homes to give you prices over the phone and hand you a specific itemized price list when you start discussing arrangements in person. But shopping around can save big bucks.

Buy only what you want

When you go funeral shopping, take a sensible friend with you, someone who can help you stick to your plans. Why it’s important: some folks think that how much they actually decide to spend stands as proof of how much they love the person and oftentimes, they end up buying more than they intended simply out of guilt.

Some less scrupulous salespeople could also imply that doing anything other than what’s considered to be “traditional” is inappropriate. A unique and quite personalized memorial observance might have more meaning to friends and family than one that looks like a “typical” one.

Buy online or make your own

You can easily find caskets and kits online for only a fraction of the price charged by some funeral homes. Mortuaries are also required by law to accept a casket from an outside vendor and can’t charge you a fee for doing so.

There’s also a variety of less expensive caskets available: wood veneer, for instance, cardboard printed with wood grain or a wide variety of patterns and pictures, and also cloth-covered. If you decide to use plain cardboard, it can be especially useful when guests, such as children, are allowed to paint, draw, and even write personal goodbye messages on it.

You can also choose the “Minimum container” and cover it with a quilt, flag, or any other attractive material.

Consider direct cremation or immediate burial

Federal law implies that these packages need to be listed on every funeral home’s price list. Let’s take cremation, for example you can use any funeral home, even one far from where you live, which could potentially help you save thousands of dollars.

They also arrange for the cremation and mail or deliver the ashes to you. Moreover, an alternative container is also included in the package price, and there’s really no need for embalming. Cemetery space for cremated remains is also generally less expensive than for a body burial and cremated remains can be easily buried or scattered almost anywhere.

If you would rather have a burial, the Direct Burial package is quite similar to Jewish, Muslin, and Bahá’í tradition: the body is buried shortly after death, without embalming or viewing.

retirement bill funeral
Photo by Robert Kneschke from Shutterstock

Plan a memorial service

Without the body being present, there is no need for embalming or refrigeration, a fancy casket, or even transporting the body to the funeral home, religious institution, or even gravesite. private visitation and goodbyes can easily occur in the home or other places of death before you get to call the funeral director.

Without the time pressure of preserving the body, you also have the flexibility to hold the service whenever it’s convenient for you. You can have a formal or informal service at a religious institution, home, park, club, or even a community center, and there’s no need to hire funeral home staff.

Skip embalming

Embalming is quite an invasive procedure that’s rarely required by law. While there are some situations where it can be quite useful (for instance, a long period between death and viewing), there’s no state that requires it. In most states, refrigeration is a viable alternative.

Consider donation

There are plenty of medical schools that will gladly cover the costs of your burial and many only require the family to pay for transportation costs. Cremated remains are generally returned within two years to the survivors.

Eliminate the vault

There are some cemeteries that might require a vault, but no state law does, so you might want to look for one that doesn’t. For instance, green cemeteries offer green light to burial without a vault. There are many religious groups that allow skipping the use of a vault, and if burial in a shroud is allowed, a liner might not be needed nor required.

In theory, the “outer burial container” keeps the ground flat and intact under a load of commercial mowing equipment. But it can also slow the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” return of the body to the earth.

Anyway, you do want to buy the least expensive option, which is usually called “a grave liner”, and if you fancy the idea of going back to nature, you can ask to have it installed upside down and without a lid.

Do it yourself

The wide majority of people don’t know that in the majority of states, any person can handle a death without needing to hire a funeral director. Families can do everything on their own or even hire a home funeral consultant, death midwife, or even a funeral director to assist.

The PBS documentary, a Family Undertaking, brings under the spotlight plenty of families who choose this option and also illustrates how extraordinarily moving and therapeutic home viewing and funerals can be.

If you found this article interesting, we also recommend checking: 7 Expert Hacks to Dine on a Budget

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