With the average cost of a funeral with a casket exceeding $7,000 at the time of publication, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, a death in your family can create significant financial stress. You don't have to visit the nearest funeral home and pay more than you should. By seeking help with funeral costs, cutting the extravagances or thinking of an alternative plan, you can avoid overspending on the funeral of a loved one.
Help From Others
Seek help from a variety of sources. Call your nearest Social Security office to arrange a lump-sum death payment if you're the spouse or child of the person who has died. If the deceased was a member of the military, contact Veterans Affairs to ask for the burial allowance. Contacting an organization such as the Funeral Consumers Alliance can help you get a list of groups in your state that may help you save on funeral costs. Another option is to set up an account on a crowdfunding website, explain your situation, and share the website via social media.
One of the best ways to save on funeral costs is to obtain quotes from several funeral homes. Just as you might do when shopping for a car, do the legwork and use one business's price as a bargaining chip to help you negotiate a better price. In an interview published on Fox Business, Joshua Slocum of the Funeral Consumers Alliance recommends getting quotes from three funeral homes and comparing the costs of elements such as the casket, care of the deceased's body and the features of the service. Slocum warns that the services that many funeral homes declare as required can be anything but. Your negotiation can focus on factors such as embalming; this process adds to your funeral bill, but isn't always necessary. For example, if you're not having a wake, you don't need to embalm the body.
Cremation and Unnecessary Expenses
Opting for a cremation rather than a burial with a casket can help you save thousands of dollars. Whether you choose a casket or urn, buying it online or from a big-box store can be a cheaper alternative than buying it from the funeral home. Changing the material of the casket or urn is also a significant cost saver; for example, a simple wooden box is far cheaper than an elaborate casket, and it's not a legal requirement for the casket to have a gasket or liner. Vigilant planning of the service is another way to control your costs. For example, limit the number of flowers you buy and drive to the burial site in your own vehicle rather than a limousine.
Using alternatives means to remember your loved one can cut the costs dramatically. Plan a memorial service as an alternative to a funeral. This service is held without the deceased's body, and because you can hold the event at your home or in a park, it has little associated cost. Another alternative is to donate the body to a medical school. This approach typically involves little to no cost to you and, provided you know the deceased person would have approved of the idea, is an effective way to control funeral-related spending.
- National Funeral Directors Association: Funeral Service Facts
- Social Security: Survivors Planner: A Special Lump-Sum Death Payment
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Compensation
- MarketWatch: 7 Ways to Save on Funeral Costs
- Fox Business: 10 Facts Funeral Directors May Not Tell You
- Funeral Consumers Alliance: Ten Tips for Saving Funeral $$$
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