The cost of a traditional funeral has again increased, jumping by more than 9% in a year and 65% over a decade in some areas. While the typical costs are around $5,722, depending on your location you could be paying around $12,298 for a funeral with burial, professional service, and flowers.
A number of factors are driving the large jump in funeral costs, and bereaved families could be found they’re having to deal with an overwhelming bill in addition to the grief from a loved one’s passing.
There are many different costs that come with funerals. So why are costs rising, and how can bereaved families avoid funeral bill shock?
Staggering price increases
After the sometimes long process of caring for senior family members at home, there is a sad reality of having to plan a funeral for your loved one.
And depending on where you live, funeral expenses could have been increasing at twice the rate of inflation. Funeral directors may be acting opportunistically by charging grieving, emotionally vulnerable families much higher prices.
Forced to make a “distressed purchase,” these families might not be aware that prices vary dramatically. Unfortunately, many families fail to understand the benefits of shopping around. They could also be facing pressure to spend more on an expensive funeral in the belief it’s necessary to show respect for their loved ones.
Indeed, surveys reveal people are aware that the rise of funeral director fees is driving these major cost increases. Coupled with inexperience and the difficulty of shopping around, these families could be paying thousands more than they need to.
Core costs include the funeral service itself, which encompasses the funeral directors’ fee and clergy or officiate fees. The casket itself might cost several thousand dollars or more, with the funeral director’s service and cost of using the funeral home as a venue being another $2,000.
A funeral with viewing and cremation could cost around $6,260, while a funeral with burial could cost between $7,000 and $12,000. For a burial, the cost of embalming, the gravesite, digging, grave line, and gravestone could average around $4,600 in total.
Other funeral options
Even though people are opting for more cost-effective solutions to burials like cremations, the associated costs can still be numerous. Bereaved loved ones might be encouraged to spend up to show their grief and made to feel guilty if they don’t spend extra thousands on limousine hire, flowers, venue hire, and catering.
These steep costs have led to some families choosing basic options like direct cremation. Direct cremation has no funeral service, and family and friends can arrange their own memorial at home or at another venue.
How to save on funeral costs
If you’re faced with the prospect of having to arrange a funeral for someone, stay emotionally objective and shop around. Look for independent funeral homes, which tend to have more competitive pricing.
Avoid thinking that going into debt for a costly funeral is the only way to honor and respect your loved one. A simple burial or cremation with a service at home could keep costs low while providing a memorable, meaningful farewell.
An easy way to do that is to compare quotes for term life vs accidental death insurance policies. You could prepay your funeral plan, buy a funeral bond, or obtain funeral insurance so your loved ones won’t have to pay anything out of pocket.
A simple garden gathering at home could be an inexpensive alternative to a formal service at a funeral home. Consider whether you’re willing to pay thousands extra for a burial plot, memorial headstone, or even a mausoleum.
Arranging a funeral is probably one of the most emotionally straining things people find themselves having to do in life. What’s essentially a practical process naturally becomes a deeply emotional one as you’re dealing with the departure of a loved one.
In addition, you could be faced with an exorbitant bill. Funeral costs are already high and they’re likely to keep increasing. Whether you’re planning your own funeral or arranging one for a loved one, you can keep expenses under control.
Keep in mind you can and should compare providers. You can also choose to opt-out of extra goods and services and even arrange certain things yourself. During times of high stress, consider other options such as life insurance options, especially during a pandemic, to make sure you have enough funds to pay for whatever end of life arrangements you choose.
This is a guest post by Luke Fitzpatrick.