Cheap Funerals

cheap funeralsTips and ideas on organizing cheap funerals

Let’s face it money is tight for many these days and although it’s unbelievably heartbreaking sad when someone passes away cheap funeral arrangements are not a disrespect if the money is simply is not there or you have debts that need your attention. Getting in debt even more toppled with bereavement could push many of us over the edge!

I think it’s important to budget, be realistic and sensible in all aspects of finance and the last thing your dead loved one would want is for you to go into debt or financial worry at the expense of their burial. The funeral business has been pretty much untouched for many many years now as it’s a sensitive subject but people are waking up and not just going to the funeral home and footing their package bills. Shop savvy mourners are making a stand and you can too.

I think funeral homes deserve to earn good profits and money for the awesome job they do but with some items like caskets being marked up as much as 500% it’s just not fair to the consumer. Death is a terribly expensive business.

Cheap Funeral Arrangements

The traditional way to run a funeral is designed to drain money and be overly extravagant. It’s sad that so many people have to wait to their death to experience the most extravagant event of their life!

Seriously though skipping the expensive mourning rooms in the funeral home, the large gothic church service and opting for a more personal touch are far more appealing to me and often much cheaper. A favorite bar, sports club, park or any area of the deceased is an absolute perfect venue. I know many older people who would be happy to have mourners remember their life standing in their prized gardens! Even if religious it’s no shame to cut down the church (or other religious ceremony) time down to a short and respectful affair.

My own personal funeral I hope will be as minimal as possible but still allow people to feel they have remembered my memory with dignity and respect. I expect to have very few flowers, simple music requirements and no religious ceremony unless really pushed by the organizers. I will likely get cremated and have my ashes spread somewhere.

Arranging a funeral can run up expenses in all areas and just getting some help and some internet capable friends to help you get everything together could help streamline the whole process and still make the perfect but affordable day.

Cheap Funeral Home

The funeral homes have you locked in often from the minute you walk in. They are experts in comforting but also expert salesmen with pre arranged and overpriced packages designed to take all worry and all money away from you. The guilt of choosing the bronze package may make you opt for gold and you will get to enjoy no real organisational worry but may end up paying 100’s of % mark up on every item. Your friends and loved ones will be more than willing to help you organise so you can use the funeral home purely for the things they need to do.

Also you need to shop around. The funeral business is experiencing the financial crisis like anyone else and this means competitive pricing is starting to happen. Like car insurance it pays to get together what you need and literally contact / visit every home within your area to attain the best value for your dollar. If you even mention you are doing this they may be even more keen to give you a much lower price. Remember their services are heavily marked up so they can afford to offer big discounts.

Cheap Funeral Casket

The casket is often the biggest cost. As mentioned in the intro it’s not uncommon for funeral homes to mark up the cost of caskets 500%. The lesson here is do not buy your casket from the funeral home! Caskets can be purchased direct from manufacturer, local wood workers and even some larger box stores such as Costco. As far as I know the cheapest caskets can be found online.

Buy Caskets Online

This deserves it’s own section because if you really want to save cash on a funeral casket then buying online is the way forward.  It makes perfect sense to buy from source or even an importer. A good friend of mine makes a good living from importing beautiful caskets from China and selling them on in USA for much less than a casket costs from a USA funeral home.

Closed Casket

Where I am from in England closed casket is normal and the expensive embalming process is not normally done. In USA though it’s still very common and this process could rack up $600 or more. Consider skipping this and going closed casket to save. Closed casket really makes no difference in my opinion. It’s nice to see your loved one one last time but I never felt like it was really them when they are all made up like a porcelain doll!

Cremation

In USA a lot of focus in on burial but cremation is gaining in popularity and is much much cheaper. The average funeral with a casket can run up to around $7000-8000 but a basic cremation can be had for around $1000-2000, a significant saving. Some problems with cremation may arise from wanting your loved ones exact ashes as often you may get other ashes mixed in the pot but you can opt for a more expensive (but still cheaper) clean cremation.

What to do with the ashes after is up to you. A cremation and releasing of the ashes can be an ultimate respectful way to let someone die gracefully. People I know recently took one of their friends ashes up in a plane and released them on a skydive. He was a skydiver and he would have loved this more than any other way.

Ashed could be buried, kept in an urn in a small funeral spot or kept at home as well as distributed wherever appropriate. In a fave river, the ocean or onto a flower bed.

I think I will opt to be cremated for budgetary and space reasons. I think it’s a responsible choice.

Cheap Funeral Wreaths and Flowers

Wreaths and flowers for funerals are expensive because like weddings the word funeral is equivalent of the word ‘kerching’ for florists!

You can save a lot of cash by not ordering flowers specific for a funeral and ordering them un-arranged. Your friends and family or any amateur flower arrangers you know will likely be more than ready to help.

You could also get a lot of the flowers from your or friends gardens and even hire a professional arranger to get them into professional looking shape.

Saving on tombstones or memorial plaques

The tombstone is expensive because it’s a piece of hand made art. However like all other funeral items it could pay to go to the source and skip the funeral home. Think about buying the stone yourself from a stone yard and then delivering it to the mason who can shape and inscribe the block. They may be able to also supply the stone themselves at a big discount.

Also consider well treated wood stones and plaques and make sure your look online for services and craftsmen.

Funeral Cheap Airfare

Sadly people die far from home at times or you have to travel back to mourn somebody. Transporting a body will never be cheap but it’s like any time you fly with cargo (sorry to sound disrespectful here). You have to ring around and check with all companies, checking times and dates that work well with the arrangements but also keep the budget on track.

For your own flight it’s worth looking at all online sites such as Kayak.com and Expedia.com and also direct with the airlines. Travel agents often mark things up. It’s worth checking with them but I always get the best flight deals online.

Prepaid Funerals

Lastly you could avoid a lot of grief for your family by prepaying your own funeral. The catch here is they are not cheap at all to buy as packages. But they can be paid over time or paid in partial balance.

However the other option is to leave very detailed instructions to your budget funeral and pre-pay the important parts. You can pre-buy a casket or pay for your cremation. Arrange with your favorite venue for the wake (not too far in advance, they may close down!), specify a public space that is allowed and give arrangements for ash spreading. Flowers could be purchased in advance or at least gift cards can be stored with your will (assuming they don’t run out). I will likely look at doing this within my older years.

Other cheap funeral ideas

  • Having a ton of guests is always expensive for you and for them also. The internet is an amazing place and you could consider setting up a memorial blog with life pictures and opportunity for many people to comment and tell their stories. This really would stop some people who can’t make it without big hassle feeling so bad and also give a place for a legacy to live on.
  • You could go for a private burial and very very small quick ceremony and then only make the wake open to a wider public.
  • If your loved one dies abroad it could be worth having them cremated before transportation of their remains. You could carry them yourself or even send them via courier.

What do you think about cheap funerals is it a disrespect to be a spendthrift in such times?

Do you think this is all a big cheap skate waste of an article? Is it offensive and disrespectful to scrimp on a funeral? I would love your thoughts and comments as always.

Thanks for reading.

24 thoughts on “Cheap Funerals”

  1. Great article! I plan on being cremated and having a very small service. Frankly, I don’t care if being frugal about my own funeral offends friends and family; hopefully they’ll understand that I’m being as smart with my money in death as I was in life. You should also note that it’s illegal for funeral homes to charge more for supplying your own casket or charge “handling fees”.

    On the flip-side of being frugal, my boyfriend is still hoping they make viking funerals legal before he dies. Nothing like going out with a bang…

  2. Very thoughtful article. Another idea that has become very popular is having a memorial. The family then can make whatever provisions they feel appropriate without public scrutiny. Good job, Forest. This one really gets down to the real world.

  3. I read somewhere (in the UK) about a cheap funeral option…’rent a coffin’. At the crematorium the body is placed in a cardboard coffin which in turn goes into an ‘expensive’ coffin (for the mourners to see.) Once the mourners have left, the cardboard coffin is taken out of the expensive coffin and the body cremated. This saves the family having to pay for a really expensive coffin.

    1. Hey Fiona, I forgot to include cardboard coffins in the post! It’s a good idea I think, we do bury a hell of a lot of nice stuff!

  4. I’m glad we are all becoming more funeral aware and not accepting the norm. Surely we want our death to be a celebration of our lives? And we do need to be more ‘green’ about it.

    Thanks for a great and very informative web site.

    1. Really sorry Tania :(, I have no idea what the procedure is for people with no money for burying. Maybe there is a local charity.

  5. What I want to know is……..do you legally have to have your funeral taken care of by a funeral home? Do you know what the legal requirements are in Canada? The reason I ask is because we (my wife and I) are believers in God Almighty and know that when our body dies our soul lives on. The remaining corpse is merely a carcass to be disposed of. The cheapest method would be the best for all concerned. Money spent on funerals would best be spent on the living. Thanks

    1. Hi Marc,

      I must admit I have no idea if you absolutely HAVE to use a funeral home but something tells me that you could legally burn the body yourself (I doubt you could burry it). However don’t take my word for it.

  6. In New Jersey if someone can’t afford to bury themself if they are on welfare they will help with the burier.I think around $4500.
    Also a little hint.Produce junction sell the most inexpensive flowers “Very Pretty”you can make your own arrangement for under $50.00!
    Sadly we buried my son-inlaw 3 weeks ago.
    I hope this info. helps.

  7. I’ve been making handblown glass memorial jewelry for years and I’ve seen the comfort it brings friends and family to have some ashes to wear in a cremation pendant or keep in a special place at home. For that reason I intend to be cremated and have my ashes divided amongst friends and family so they can do something like this if they want to.

  8. I do not think its disrespectful with wanting to be cost concious in the funeral planning. Another cost saving idea is to make your own funeral printed materials such as the funeral program or prayer card. Thanks for this post, people deserve to know they have options other than what is provided at the funeral home.
    Carole G. recently posted..Condolence MessagesMy Profile

  9. I think that a cheap funeral is no insult as long as you know the person is okay with it. I’ve talked to my parents to see what sort of funeral they really want. They are fine with a very simple and inexpensive one so I can proceed without feeling any guilt or worry that they would be offended. Talking about this sort of thing early is a great idea since that will give you a lot of confidence when planning your loved one’s funeral.

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