The Cheapest Funeral You Can Get, & How to Get It

The cheapest options for a funeral are

  • Burying directly in the ground without a funeral service beforehand.
  • A direct cremation
  • Cremation as it does not need embalming or a fancy coffin.
  • Eco alternatives.

Embalming, caskets, urns, and funeral before internment increase costs.

A funeral in many ways is really for the living, as it allows the family and loved ones to come to terms with their loss and celebrate the life of their loved one.

In America, funerals can run to thousands of dollars even without flowers, obituaries or other more expensive add ons to the service.

The average cost of a funeral can run up from  $9000 – $11,000 with the average cremation cost being around $3500, all of which can place a further financial burden on families.

By choosing a direct burial, cremation or other eco alternatives to traditional embalming, caskets, and internment is cheaper yet still provides a moving respectful funeral.

The costs of a funeral can become a huge burden to the grieving family. But other alternatives to the mainstream funeral can offer a dignified farewell to your loved one without the burden of exorbitant costs.


Cremation, a Funeral Home, or Natural Burial are the cheapest.

The three most expensive things of a funeral and burial are the embalming, caskets/urns, and the use of the funeral home property and staff.

The way to save costs then, is to reduce these items as much as possible.

The alternative options such as cremation, a funeral home, or a natural burial are very cost-effective and are better for the environment than a traditional burial.

Another saving is that the body of the deceased doesn’t require embalming, dressing or isn’t required to be made up, which are all expensive services.


1. The Cremation.

The cost of a cremation is considerably cheaper than a traditional funeral because:

  • It doesn’t require a fancy casket that can range from $2,000 to $10,000 or more.
  • Neither does the body require embalming.
  • It doesn’t require a costly cemetery plot, although if you are going to bury the ashes, the small plot in the cemetery can add costs.
  • Urns run from simple cheap urns to the higher personalized urns. 
  • You can cast the ashes to the wind or the sea, saving the need for a container as not everyone wants the urn of ashes at home. Check with local authorities first though, as each state has different requirements.
  • A direct cremation is when the body is cremated immediately in the days following the death with no service beforehand. This is the most affordable option. The body is cremated in a simple container, and there is no viewing before the cremation. The ashes are stored in a wooden box or simple urn that is given to the family afterward. You can hold a small memorial service later for friends and relatives.

With a cremation rate of around 49% nationwide, the new tradition is now becoming the cremation. It has been increasingly accepted by organized religion and offers a flexible option for those who have moved far from their hometown or country.


2. A Funeral Home

You can plan a cheaper funeral by asking the funeral home  directly before engaging them as to what their basic price is. By law, they are required to tell you although some will try to offer a package deal that may include items that you don’t need.

The market for funeral services has become more competitive in recent years, and as a client you have the upper hand to demand to know the basic rate for a service and cremation.

Even if you decide to bury the deceased, you can ask for a plain cheap pine casket, which can save thousands of dollars.

You can also purchase a very affordable cardboard casket. To find a company that makes them just search online for the closest one near you.

A direct cremation will save you at least 40 -50 % where you do the service yourself as you have no casket costs or cemetery costs.

The things they can do are:

  • The professional (the funeral director) can help plan the funeral and advise the family in regards to the funeral
  • The funeral director will also handle administration matters such as filing the death certificate, publishing the death notice and obituaries, and generally take care of the paperwork as required by law.
  • Their services cover responding when a death occurs, removal of the deceased to the funeral home, and they plan the funeral service and interment with the consent of the client.
  • Often they do everything, and it is easy to accept all their suggestions without question.


3. A Natural Burial

Natural burial is where the burial area creates a natural habitat for wildlife or preserves the existing habitat such as a woodland, orchard, or meadow rich in flora and fauna.

It is not a fenced, contained area – it remains free and natural within the environment.

  • A natural burial seeks to minimize the environmental impact by prohibiting embalming.
  • A casket or a basket must be made of natural, biodegradable materials such as wicker, cotton, bamboo, raw teak, banana leaf, or even linen.
  • Marking of the grave is not allowed as a natural burial aims to allow nature to do as it pleases.
  • No headstones are allowed.
  • You cannot tend the grave or cut the grass; nature is allowed to remain untouched and free. Wildflowers are allowed to grow untended, and trees are normally planted to create an aura of beauty.
  • A natural burial is also known as a green burial.
  • Alternatives include a natural burial under the sea. Eternal Reefs in Florida offer to take cremated ashes and incorporate them into a cement artificial reef formation placed in a permitted ocean floor plot of choice. For a person who loves the ocean,  this could be the ideal final resting place.

Natural or green burial grounds do not resemble a cemetery but are a resting place in nature where you can visit and connect to the natural world and pay your respects to your loved one.


Know Your Budget, Keep it Simple, and Stick To Your Plan.

A funeral is a very stressful time for family and friends. Emotions are fragile, and sometimes it is easy just to give in to whatever is suggested.

The close family just wants to get the funeral over and be left alone to sort out their lives.

Having a budget figure is vital to keeping the costs down on a funeral. It is okay to want to save costs. Running into financial debt is something the deceased person wouldn’t want you to do.

Sticking to your budget means:

  • Letting your funeral director of choice know the budget of the family and make it clear that you don’t want to go over it.
  • If you choose cremation, stick to your guns. No one has the right to force you into a burial in a cemetery if that is not what your heart wants.
  • An understated cheap urn is just as nice as an expensive budget-breaking one.
  • A nice simple box for the ashes is enough, you don’t need a specially carved ornate one.
  • Stick to a simple casket of pine, or even consider a cardboard casket. These are more environmentally friendly and can save you thousands of dollars.
  • Embalming costs a fortune, so consider going without this service. Unless you don’t intend to have the funeral for a couple of weeks, this can be cut from the budget. Many funeral directors can chill the body so that it lasts until the family arrives without having to embalm.
  • Beware of ‘extras’ such as the hiring of a singer(s) at the reception, extravagant caskets, statuettes for the grave, or other unnecessary trimmings. Honor the memory of your loved one better by not overspending.
  • The reception is just for refreshment, you are not providing a three-course meal! Light refreshments with tea and coffee are best, so save your money.
  • Hiring a community hall for the reception is often cheaper than having the reception at a church or funeral home.
  • Flowers can be expensive. Huge arrangements cost a bundle of money. If you are using a florist, let them know your budget. Roses, lilies, and orchids are expensive, and you need a lot to fill a large arrangement. Cheaper flowers like spring daffodils, daisies, iris, protea, carnations, and others can substitute beautifully without breaking the bank.
  • You can use greenery for much of the arrangement with just a few focal flowers, and it will look amazing. Add ribbons to add more color.
  • If you have a family member such as an aunt who is handy arranging flowers, get her to do them. She will love being able to contribute. Remember many of the arrangements are left at the cemetery (especially for burial), and within a few days, they will be wilted and dying.


Find Out Your Options For Financial Assistance

With the average American facing a funeral cost of around $11,000, it is unfortunate that many people find that they are struggling to meet that cost.

Some people overcome this situation by turning to the internet to crowdfund as a way to collect donations for funeral expenses.

Funeral homes can assist you to find financial assistance to cover the funeral costs, as well as helping you to work through the application process. They offer this service for free which is a great help to a family facing an unexpected funeral.

There are also some charities and non-profit organizations that can help you to access financial help.

Check your employer and the government as they often can assist with bereavement financial assistance which will help you to cover the funeral.

If you belong to a church, you may be able to reach out to them to get help with funeral costs. They are knowledgeable about other groups that may be able to help you as well.


Starting a Funeral Savings Plan.

This step will not help you now if you are unfortunate enough to be facing an unexpected funeral, but it will help you in the future.

Funeral service insurance is a savings plan that can make life easier for your loved ones at a difficult time. 

  • This will help cover any funeral costs or outstanding debts if you pass away.
  • A little each month for funeral costs can add up, but can add up to a total thatprovides the funds  so the family is not hit with the unexpected cost of a funeral.

Term Life Cover is a bit different as it offers family financial protection against a terminal illness. It also covers unexpected passing away.

These plans are designed to plan for the future.

But if you are financially savvy, you can set up a simple bank account emergency fund where you just save a bit per week without fail, and that amount will soon add up to a tidy sum that can be used for funeral purposes.

You can save on fees, and doing it yourself is the cheapest way to do it.


The Cheapest Funeral Depends on Your Research.

Knowledge is power.

The more you know, the more you can expect to find ways to have a cheaper funeral. So you can do it in a way that is both tasteful, and offers dignity to the deceased and the family in their time of mourning.

Shopping around and keeping things simple will allow you to save thousands of dollars on a funeral.

A funeral is to say goodbye, to pay your last respects to a loved one.

It is not meant to be outlandishly lavish and expenses. It is supposed to be a meeting where all associated with the deceased has an opportunity to say goodbye.

Be careful not to bend to the temptation for unnecessary add ons. Many are superfluous to the nature of the farewell.

Save your dollars for the living, while saying goodbye in simple, classic style.


Writer: Jean Brewer

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