Cutting the Cost of Dying

by Andy Hough on August 21, 2013

It can cost a lot of money to die nowadays. The average funeral cost in the United States ranges from $12-15,000. There are a few ways to cut that cost. It is possible to save thousand on funeral costs, perhaps even eliminating them completely if you look at different options for your final arrangements.

One way to cut your costs is to donate your body to science. If you qualify, you can donate your body through an organization such as BioGift. The donation process takes approximately four weeks to conclude. By this time, the family or next-of-kin will have received the cremated remains, and any requested certified copies of the death certificate. There is no charge for the cremation or death certificate. It is doubtful many people are donating their bodies to science just to save money. If you are considering a making a gift of your body anyway though the savings is an additional benefit.

Cremation is another way to significantly cut the cost of final arrangements. A direct cremation can easily be done for less than $1000. You have to be careful though. If you add services, a fancy casket, and a cremation niche than the cost could be as much as a traditional funeral. Even if you don’t need a casket you could be charged as much as $125 for an alternative container that is just a cardboard box.

If you decide to go with a traditional funeral you do not need to buy a casket from the funeral home. You can buy your own casket online or even at Costco. This can amount to a savings of thousands of dollars. The FTC requires funeral homes to accept third party caskets without charge.

The law requires funeral homes to give you written price lists for products and services. You should compare the prices of several funeral homes for the services and products that you want to find the best deal. You should also remember that you do not have to buy a package. You can buy just the services you want. The FTC has lots of tips on shopping for funeral services that can help save you money. Your final arrangements do not have to cost your loved ones a fortune.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 krantcents August 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

One way to really keep your funeral costs down is to plan it before you die. I know that is a very difficult thing to do mentally, but you have more of a say about your arrangements. It is also a good way to relieve the burden for the survivors.

2 Andy Hough August 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Pre-planning can also save a lot of money. You do need to make sure that you know everything that is included in the contract. A lot of people who though that they had completely paid for a funeral are surprised to find that they still have to pay additional fees.

3 The College Investor August 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I agree with Krantcents. You need to plan ahead of time – it’s sad but true!

4 Andy Hough August 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm

It isn’t something people like to think about, but it is inevitable.

5 Thomas | Your Daily Finance August 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Never heard of those requirements before but it great to know that there are check points and safety nets in place. I don’t think the wifey wants be to donate my body to science and we have discussed cremation. I say plan ahead and make sure you have some type of life/health insurance to help out with the costs. My wifey isn’t really the type of person who want to start thinking about one of us dying.

6 Andy Hough August 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm

It makes things a lot easier if you plan ahead. I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, but I have let the people close to me know that I’d prefer cremation.

7 Nancy M. August 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm

What exactly is direct cremation? And where is it $1000.00? What I would call direct cremation is what my husband wanted. No services; no body prep; the minimal pre-cremation body container (cardboard) and no fancy urn sold by the funeral parlor. I got his cremains in a plastic bag inside of a plastic box. Pretty direct, right? My bill for that was $3295.00. (2010) Yes, the funeral guy had to pickup the body from our home (died at home under Hospice care) then hold it the 24 hours required by law (this state anyway) and transport to and from crematorium (15 miles each way) and the guy did handle the paperwork for certificates and putting obit in local papers which is no cost except his time to copy it down and fax it.

I thought it was a bit steep at $3295.00 Be prepared is the answer I think…and shop around.

8 Andy Hough August 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

What you describe is what would be considered direct cremation. A funeral home here in Kansas City offers transfer of remains into their care, refrigeration, filing of death certificate, cremation fee, alternative cremation container, a temporary urn and an online obituary and guest registry for $675. It appears you had a very expensive funeral home.

Shopping around can save a lot of money. Of course, that isn’t something most people are going to want to do right after a loved one has died. That is why one needs to be prepared ahead of time.

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