Tips When Planning Inexpensive
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
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
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
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.
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