A loved one passing away is a hard thing on its own, but this is soon followed by the worries that come with budgeting for the funeral. The median cost of a funeral was around $7,848 in 2021, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), when accounting for a viewing and the burial. The median cost of funerals with cremation, on the other hand, was lower, at around $6,971.
Experts state that life insurance policies become more and more important as the costs continue to rise in all sectors. You can purchase a policy well in advance and a way of getting some help when you have to cover the costs of a funeral, which will surely take some stress off the grieving family’s shoulders.
- Expenses related to the funeral have only seen an increase as time passed, although based on more recent data, the average funeral costs don’t go up at the same pace as inflation does.
- The average cost of a funeral reported by the National Funeral Directors Association ranges from $6,971 to $7,848 as of 2021 depending on whether you’re looking for a burial or cremation.
- You could take advantage of life insurance to guarantee financial security for your family and make sure you have the money needed to pay for a funeral.
How much does a funeral cost?
The average funeral has many associated fees, as follows:
- Basic service fee: This is the fee that is considered standard for the service associated with the funeral itself. It should cover all planning fees, including administrative fees and the costs of the needed permits.
- Cash advances: These are fees perceived for the services that a funeral home might have to handle in your name or for you, like paying for organists, clergy, or funeral flowers. You will surely be hit with a marked-up price to the account as well, which is an added service fee for the efforts of the funeral home. All additional fees will have to be disclosed to you in writing so you know exactly what you’re paying for and the exact sum.
- Fees for merchandise and related services: These fees should cover anything from embalming the body, to preparing it and transporting it to the burial site, as well as fees related to the funeral home, for the memorial, viewing and burial, and any other services or equipment needed for the graveside service. You will also be charged for the burial container or casket, or, depending on the case, for the services related to interment or direct cremation.
You will usually spend around $2,200 for your average casket, with premium caskets that are made of copper, bronze, or mahogany reaching prices of $10,000 or even more.
To avoid any third-party markups, you can look for the casket independently. Keep in mind that some funeral homes have preferential contracts with casket providers, so the markup might be offset by the discount they receive, which means that looking for a casket on your own might prove useless. This is the case especially if you were to consider the costs for shipping the casket to the funeral home, a fee that will surely be pretty expensive due to its volume.
You will avoid the costs related to a new casket completely when choosing cremation instead of traditional burial.
If you have other burial plans, you should know that there are many funeral homes that can rent you the casket to use for the viewing alone (for a funeral with a viewing) or for the funeral itself.
Check out the average funeral costs for other things you might need, according to online statistics:
|Service||General price list|
|Transportation for the family||$165.00|
|Pamphlets and materials||$201.30|
|Funeral home rental||$495.00|
|Funeral home staff for ceremony||$566.50|
|Transportation of remains||$385.00|
|Funeral home staff for viewing||$495.00|
|Funeral service fee||$2,530.00|
You can also follow the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) funeral pricing checklist to avoid having to pay for planning while also making sure you get everything you need.
Average Funeral Costs by State – Burial or Cremation
Below, you will find a table with the average costs for funeral arrangements based on the state you live in, so that you get a clearer idea of what to expect:
Although funeral expenses are ever-increasing, interestingly enough, according to most recent data, the average funeral costs aren’t keeping pace with the fast inflation rise. This can still be a temporary situation, as some analysts consider that funeral costs will increase more and faster in the future.
Cremation usually costs less than burial, regardless of where you live, and as expected, some states have services a lot cheaper than others. You will spend a lot more if you live in North Dakota, than people living in states like Oklahoma or Colorado.
How to keep the cost of a funeral down
It is very important to consider the expenses you will be faced with and whether they are worth the price, even if you have purchased a life insurance policy or you have gone through thorough financial planning.
If for whatever reason you choose to keep the expenses related to an extravagant memorial service low, you should always let your family know about these wishes. This is especially important if there are other expenses that would take priority over it.
Here are some strategies you can consider to cut funeral costs as low as possible:
- Opt for cremation instead of traditional burial and get your own urn. Cremation costs are already cheaper than costs related to embalming and burial, so cremation in itself is already a cost-saving alternative, but if you also bring your own urn that you have purchased ahead of time, you can save additionally, as funeral homes sell urns for several hundred dollars.
- Look around for cheaper prices or discounts. Although this isn’t a time in your life you would want to haggle on the price, just like any other product or service, funeral services can cost more or less depending on the funeral home you go to.
- Consider donating the body. You can also donate the body to a medical school in the name of scientific research and advancing healthcare technology. These schools will usually cover the expenses related to acquiring the body after an individual dies and use it for medical research. Aside from saving money, this is also a great way to help scientists understand more about how different conditions or diseases affect the human body.
Preparing for funeral expenses
Although the exact moment you die is hardly ever known, while loved ones are mourning, they will still have to prepare for the enormous spending that follows.
This is why before you face death, you should consider proper financial planning. This should offer your family peace of mind. There are several ways in which you can prepare for the funeral expenses to come:
Final expense insurance
You can cover funeral expenses with final expense insurance. If you’re the beneficiary of such insurance, you can use the payout for other expenses as well, including legal fees and medical fees.
Final expense insurance is one of the most attractive ways of offsetting any funeral expenses, especially for elderly individuals, as it is something better available for people of older ages.
Life insurance policy
You can contribute to your funeral expenses while you’re still alive and well if you secure a life insurance policy. The insurance payout, or death benefit, that your beneficiaries receive when you pass away should cover all of the costs related to the funeral. If you get a larger policy, your beneficiaries will even be left with some additional funds to get by.
There are several types of life insurance policies that can help you plan for funeral-related expenses:
- The whole life insurance policy is meant to guarantee insurance for the entire life. You will pay the premiums until you hit the maturity date. This insurance type should also offer other savings components to beneficiaries, depending on the plan.
- You can also get coverage at a fixed premium rate, for a limited time period, with term life insurance.
Other ways to pay for funeral expenses
Life insurance isn’t the only way to pay for funeral expenses. Here are other popular ways to prepare:
- Advanced arrangements
- Military burial benefits
- Payable-on-death account
- Traditional savings account
Funeral Rule Info
The Funeral Rule has been made as as policy meant to protect consumers by guaranteeing they only pay once for whatever services they need. In other words, you do not have to select a burial package with additional services that you do not want to use.
It is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. It was designed so that the prices you get are clearly provided and you can use third-party services whenever you see fit. You will first have to select all of the desired funeral options and then, the funeral home will provide a final itemized list with prices that you will have to sign off.
Although a funeral will probably be very expensive, having an average price of around $7,000, you can try to cut down at least part of these costs with some planning and shopping around.
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