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Tips When Planning Inexpensive Funerals

By Mike Selvon

Did you know it's possible to plan funerals for $800 or less? While money is the last thing people want to think about at a time of mourning, it's important to make wise decisions regarding caskets, cremation, flowers and other ceremonial arrangements.

Don't get caught into the trap of thinking, "My loved one would have wanted a huge party" or "Only the best casket for MY loved one!" You don't have to be cheap to plan a nice, budget-conscious interment.

The National Funeral Directors Association said that the average US funeral costs a whopping $6,500! They warn that once burial plot, flowers and other costs are factored in, that number could reach close to $10,000.

However, dignified and cathartic funerals can be planned for less than $800, if the right options are considered. The first thing you should know is that funeral homes vary greatly in prices and types of services offered, so it's smart to check around, instead of just snagging the nearest place.

Today, cremation is the choice for a third of all deaths. A 2007 survey of 170 funeral homes in Washington, found that the price for cremation ranged from $425 to over $2,800. A "direct cremation" is the least expensive and quickest way to handle the deceased, without viewings or a ceremony. A fair price for this process is around $600.

Ask if the cremation includes the transport of the body, or if there will be an additional "cremation fee" (which may cost an extra $200 or so). Caskets and embalming are not necessary for the cremated. If you choose a viewing prior to cremation, you can often rent a coffin.

The next question is what to do with the ashes. Some people purchase urns to keep on the mantel or pay to have the ashes set in a burial plot with a tombstone, but these can be quite expensive. Other options include: artistic pottery and keeping them at home or scattering the ashes in the ocean or on a mountain.

If you'd like a burial for your loved one, there are options to keep you out of debt. "Direct burials" bypass public viewings, embalming, cosmetology and a ceremony, moving the body quickly to the burial plot. Caskets are what really hurts many people. Metal caskets cost $2,000! Many caskets offer "special seals," but this is generally considered wasteful, especially since no one is going to check the guarantee after several years!

You can surf the web for deals on caskets, headstones and monuments that will typically ship overnight. Pine costs 5% of what the bronze or mahogany coffins cost. Sometimes people get suckered into purchasing expensive grave liners, concrete walls to keep the ground from settling or burial vaults - which are all relatively unnecessary.

Some memorial services take place in funeral homes, while others take place at banquet halls or private functions. This is often called "the celebration of life," which can shift the focus to more positive memories of the dead and also to the support net created by family and friends. Choose a buffet style and provide pitchers of drinks to help keep costs under control here, although often times more than one person will chip in for expenses.

To get help paying for funerals, understand that you will get $255 from the Social Security Administration, many pension funds offer funeral allowances, and veterans are offered free burial and markers at national cemeteries. If there is no sudden death, one may even put money into a Totten trust fund, which can be opened at any bank and aims to be paid to a survivor upon death.

You don't have to bury your loved one in a cardboard box to get a funeral for under $1,000. Instead, take a look at your options and focus on the task at hand. More so than an expensive urn or casket, your loved one would have wanted you to plan sensibly.

Visit us for free tips and training to help you make quick easy money and have the financial freedom you deserve.


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