It is not easy to plan a funeral. It’s hard enough to think about what someone needs when they’re alive, let alone after they’ve passed away. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming if you break it down into manageable steps.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the different elements of planning a funeral and the approximate costs associated with each one. This will help give you an idea of what to expect and how much you might need to budget for.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of what goes into a funeral and how much it typically costs. So if you’re facing the difficult task of planning a funeral, you’ll know where to start.
The average US funeral costs anywhere from $6,568 in Mississippi to $15,203 in Hawaii. In reality, an adequate funeral can be organized for a fraction of these costs. What determines these costs are opting for burials over cremations and choosing funeral packages with unnecessary extra services.
What a funeral cost (by US state)
The reality is that a funeral is not the only cost associated with death. There are plenty of other costs that a family will incurr in the run up to and after a funeral. These can be
Overview of US funeral and end of life costs
Below you can see the results of a study conducted by policygenius.com which breaks down all of the costs a family might face when dealing with the death of a loved one. Just remember, that an average funeral isn’t always the cheapest possible option and you will more than likely be able to find an option to slash the prices quoted in this section of the article.
END OF LIFE
State comparison: Funeral costs
As can be seen from the chart above, most states fall between the $6,000 to $10,000 range with Mississippi being the cheapest at $6,924 and Hawaii the most expensive at a huge $15,203.
State comparison: End of life expenses
When considering all the end-of-life expenses (hospital bills to phone bills as well as headstones or urns) we can see from the data above that the average cost will be between $11,000 and $14,500. Those Americans living in Mississippi and Hawaii are at opposite spectrums with average costs being $11,739 and $27,175 respectively.
State comparison: Total end of life costs
This handy little chart just shows you the combined average cost when dealing with a death. As I’ve mentioned before, average doesn’t mean you will have to pay this. If you follow the tips later in this article you will be able to make significant savings on funeral costs at the very least.
Cremation vs Burial – What they will cost you
A funeral is an emotional and difficult time. I understand that this can be a confusing, overwhelming process for those who are unfamiliar with the details of planning a funeral.
That’s why I want to give you our insider information on how to plan your own funeral at the best price possible by understanding what types of funerals there are and which type will best fit your needs and budget.
There are really two routes you can go down when it comes to respectfully disposing of human remains, burial, or cremation.
Burial can be done in a cemetery where a plot will need to be purchased or alternatively, at home on private land. The average cost of a burial in many states is around $7,000 while the average cost of cremation is only approximately $1,100. So if you are looking for the most affordable option, cremation would be the way to go.
Another thing to consider is what type of memorial service you would like to have. A burial will typically require a memorial service while a cremation can either have one or not. The average cost of a memorial service is an additional $795. So if you are planning on having a memorial service, cremation would be the more affordable option.
There are many other factors that will affect the total cost of a funeral, such as the type of casket or urn, flowers, transportation, and catering. But by understanding the different types of funerals and what is involved in each, you can make an informed decision on which one fits you best.
For more information on choosing burial or cremation and all of the other little-known factors associated with them, please read my article here.
Common offerings in a funeral package
Although it’s entirely possible to plan and execute an entire funeral without the help of a funeral home, most families are going to use those services for convenience.
Funerals that include a burial rather than a cremation are going to require slightly different services, but here is a list of common elements of all traditional funerals:
- Funeral flowers
- Minister or funeral officiant
- Coffin or casket
- Funeral home and cemetery expenses
- Food and drinks for the funeral guests
- Memorial service or celebration of life
- Urn or grave marker
- Opening and closing of the grave *
- Service at the graveside *
- Limousine service to transport guests
- Organist or soloist
- Memorial booklet or video
- funeral mementos
*usually only for burials
Funeral flowers can be expensive and retail for between $200 to $800 for a full funeral package. Starting at an average of $75 and going up to $800, the price for flowers is usually set by how extravagant the family wants the funeral to be.
The average cost of a funeral officiant or minister would be between $200-$1000. The price will vary depending on location, the experience, and qualifications for the officiant, if any pallbearers are required and if there is transportation required.
The average cost of a headstone ranges from $400-$6,000, with most landing in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. The price will vary depending on the size and kind of stone used for the headstone. A more expensive headstone may be needed if a grave marker isn’t sufficient or if it needs to be large enough to accommodate an urn as well as a casket.
Coffin or casket
The average cost of a coffin or casket can be anywhere from $500, with most falling around the $2,000 mark. Some families can pay in excess of $10,000 for a casket though. The price for either option will vary depending on the materials used, the size, and the style.
Funeral home and cemetery expenses
The average cost for funeral staff (called a ‘basic fee’) is about $2,000. Cemetery expenses can vary depending on the location of the cemetery. If your family doesn’t already have a plot in mind, spend some time really comparing numbers to find the best deal.
The average cost of a hearse is $1,000. The price may vary depending on the make and model of the hearse as well as shipping and handling fees.
Food and drinks for the funeral guests
Funeral catering can be expensive, with the average cost ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.
The price will vary depending on what type of catering is selected, the number of guests, and the location of the event. Generally, catering for a funeral is more expensive than a regular catered event because there are more specialized needs that need to be met.
Memorial service or celebration of life
A memorial service can range in price from $500-$5,000, depending on the location and size of the event. If it’s included in the package price, this may push up the overall price you pay compared to if it’s a separate ceremony, to say, a cremation.
The cost may also vary depending on whether any special accommodations need to be made, such as hiring a band or renting out a venue.
Urn or grave marker
The average cost of an urn is $150 and the average cost of a simple grave marker is $300. The price will vary depending on the size and style of the urn or grave marker.
Opening and closing of the grave
The average cost of opening and closing a grave is $700. This price may vary depending on the location of the cemetery, the type of service that is chosen, and how many staff members are required for the job.
Service at the graveside
The average cost for service at the graveside is about $700. This fee will vary depending on where the cemetery is located, what type of services are offered and how many staff members are needed to do the job.
Limousine service to transport guests
The average cost of limousine service to transport guests at a funeral can be around $1,000. However, this may vary depending on the location of the event and if any other extras are needed (such as adding more hours or additional vehicles).
Organist or soloist
The average cost for an organist or soloist is about $375. However, the price may vary depending on the experience and qualifications of the performer, as well as the length and location of the event. Hiring a student can be a cheaper option.
Memorial booklet or video
The cost of a memorial booklet varies. The price will depend on the size and style, as well as the location where it is produced.
It’s typically more expensive in larger metropolitan areas with many printing and production shop options. Prices range from $1,000 to over $5,000.
Funeral mementos can be a special way to remember a loved one who has passed away. They can also be a nice memento for guests to take home after the funeral. The cost of funeral mementos will vary depending on the type and amount of merchandise that is purchased. Typically, the price ranges from $50 to $200.
Considerations for funeral packages
It’s important to note that not all of these items are included in every funeral package. For example, the cost of a casket or coffin can range from a few hundred dollars (if bought online) to several thousand dollars, and not all funeral homes include this expense in their package price.
Similarly, some families may choose to have a memorial service instead of a traditional funeral, which would incur different costs.
However, most of the items on this list are typically included in a standard funeral package. If you’re interested in learning more about what’s included in a particular funeral package, be sure to speak with the funeral home or cemetery directly. They will be able to provide you with a detailed list of what’s included in their services.
If you’re considering a funeral for a loved one, it’s important to understand all of the expenses that are involved. By knowing what to expect, you can make sure that your loved one’s funeral is as affordable as possible.
Keep in mind that many funeral homes and cemeteries offer payment plans, so don’t let the cost scare you away from arranging a funeral.
Factors which really affect funeral cost
There are perhaps three main things that are going to really affect the price you pay for a funeral.
-The cost for using the funeral home itself
-The cost for the casket
-The cost for the vault or outer burial container (OBC)
The fees charged by funeral homes will vary from state to state and even within a county. So the best thing to do is to shop around. You will find a wide range in prices, with some as low as $500 (for direct burials or cremations) and others as high as $10,000.
Most families are caught off guard when they have to suddenly plan a funeral. Although I don’t think funeral homes are being underhanded, I do think they make the most of this opportunity.
By holding off for just a few hours and phoning around or visiting a few funeral homes, you may be able to get everything you need for a lot less than the first place you talk to.
If you want to know what questions you should be asking a funeral home, please read my article about this, here.
Vaults & OBCs
If you are going to have a burial, then you need to understand the costs associated with vaults and OBCs. These are often required by the cemetery as graves can collapse over time as caskets degrade, and a reinforced grave lining prevents this.
The cost for a vault starts at about $700 and goes up to $4,000 or more. OBCs range in price from $500 to $5,000.
Just remember, some cemeteries require that you have a vault or an OBC. Others do not. It is important to check with the cemetery before making any decisions.
The cost of caskets can vary greatly and typically runs from $500 to $5,000. However, there are some very expensive models that can go for as much as $10,000 or more.
You should be aware that the cost of the casket is not always included in the price of a funeral package. Also, you don’t have to buy a casket from a funeral home if you don’t want to.
They are obliged by law to accept and use any suitable casket you purchase. I always recommend comparing the price of a casket online to what you are being offered in-store. You can see my recommend online retailers here.
Also remember, for cremations you don’t need to buy an ornate casket as these are not suitable for the crematory. You can either opt for a simple casket design or rent a fancy one if you plan to hold a viewing.
Types of funerals to consider
Ultimately the final price of a funeral is dependent on which type of service and extras you opt for.
There are three types of funerals:
-A religious funeral
-A traditional funeral
-A contemporary funeral
A religious funeral is often the most expensive option, as it follows the specific rites and rituals of a particular religion. A traditional funeral is more likely to involve a burial, while a contemporary funeral might opt for cremation.
A traditional funeral is less expensive than a religious funeral (usually no church, temple etc to consider), but it may still be more expensive than a contemporary funeral.
It’s important to consider all of your options and discuss them with a funeral home before making any decisions. A contemporary funeral can be the least expensive option, as it allows for greater personalization and flexibility.
This is where you can do away with many of the traditional services of a funeral home from embalming to in-house visitations. You can even go as far as having greener funerals which do away with expensive caskets altogether
It is important to remember that the cost of a funeral is not just about the funeral home, casket, or vault. The cost also includes the services of a funeral director, which can range from $150 to $500. It is important to shop around and compare prices to find the best deal on a funeral.
The cost of a funeral can be daunting, but it is important to remember that you have many options and you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a meaningful and memorable funeral. By understanding the different types of funerals and the associated costs, you can plan a funeral that is perfect for your needs and budget.
Hidden and additional funeral costs
Another thing to consider, or know about, is that not all the costs associated with a funeral will be connected to the funeral home. There are other costs for third parties that a funeral home will add to your bill in addition to the package price quoted.
These are known in the industry as Cash advances or pass-through. They may only be a small cost, such as $70 but they can add up depending on your needs.
Here are some of the other hidden and additional costs that you may not have considered:
–Certificates and permits ($450 on average depending on your state and how many copies you need)
–The cemetery (opening and closing the grave can cost $1,300)
–Obituary (average cost is $450, but can be reduced with our website)
–Church stipend or fee (typically between $150 and $500)
Adding these up, the total cost for a funeral can be between $2,200 and $3,000. But there are ways to reduce this cost, so be sure to ask your funeral director about all the options available to you.
One way to save money on a funeral is to choose a less expensive casket. Another is to forgo the services of a funeral director and make all the arrangements yourself. You can also ask family and friends to help with the preparations.
In some states, the funeral home must be the ones to collect and transport a body, but this isn’t the case everywhere. While embalming HAS to be done by a professional, dressing the body and placing them in a coffin doesn’t.
Whatever you do, be sure to start planning well in advance, as the process can take time. And don’t forget to take into account the costs of transporting the body, either by air or ground.
The bottom line is that funeral costs vary widely, so it’s important to do your research and get quotes from several different funeral homes before making a decision. By being informed and budget-minded, you can ensure that your loved one receives a respectful and affordable send-off.
Tips for keeping cost of funerals down
Funeral planning can be tough. You want to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of a funeral budget (for those who want more than just cremation).
- Choose an affordable coffin or casket that fits the purpose.
- Consider floral arrangements – less is more, and extravagant arrangements can add up fast.
- Compare funeral prices for different services and venues. Some churches have non-negotiable fees, so be aware of those in advance.
- Ask about discounts for members of the clergy or military personnel.
- Compare the cost of hiring a funeral director for a shorter or longer service.
- Keep the length of the service short and sweet to keep costs down.
- Have the service at home to save on fees.
- Make sure to ask about any other potential expenses that may add up, like vehicle hire.
In the end, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a funeral. There are many ways to keep costs down while still honoring your loved one. With some careful planning, you can have the funeral you want without breaking the bank.
Now that you know a bit more about the cost of funerals, it’s important to start planning ahead. Funeral prices can vary widely, so it’s important to do your research and get quotes from several different funeral homes before making a decision. By being informed and budget-minded, you can ensure that your loved one receives a respectful and affordable send-off. Thank you for reading!