How much does an average funeral cost?
“How much does a funeral cost?” is the first question you hear from people planning for funerals. The cost of funerals has been on the since the 1980s and today the cost of funerals varies between $1,500 and $15,000 with the average burial and funeral cost at $7,360 and cremation at $6,260. These huge costs make even the most basic funeral expenses difficult to afford.
It is a very common practice for families to over spend on funerals. Some of the possible reasons include:
- Clouded judgement due to the emotional impact of the loss
- Limited time
- On spot decisions
- Lack of experience in arranging funerals
- Funeral homes exploiting the situation
One of the best ways to save yourself from overspending and exploitation is by being aware of the average funeral costs and the cost of each funeral item. This way you will better be able to decide what you need, what you don’t need and what would be nice to have.
This article will be discussing the different parts of a funeral, the associated costs, how you can save money on a funeral and the steps you can take during your life to prepare for your funeral.
Burial or. Cremation
The purpose of this section is to go over the differences between cremation and burial and the pros and cons of each. The choice to go for burial or cremation is a very personal decision. Though burial still remains the traditional practice, cremation has been gaining popularity over the past few years.
Burial or cremation take place after the funeral. Burial involves keeping the body remains intact and burying them. Cremation on the other hand requires the body to be incinerated and the ashes can then be buried, scattered or kept with the family.
Pros of Cremation
- Less cost
- You can have the funeral service either before or after cremation
- The ashes are portable
- Helps with the problem of overcrowded cemeteries
- Considered more environment friendly
Cons of Cremation
- May be against the deceased’s faith
- Permeant decision
- May make mourning difficult
Pros of Burial
- Gives families and loved ones a burial site to visit
- Considered more natural
- Gives loved ones more closure
Cons of Burial
- May be difficult for loved ones to visit grave site
Is there a breakdown of funeral expenses?
The purpose of this section is to familiarize you with the different steps involved in a funeral and the basic costs of each part for burial and cremation.
The Funeral Rule states that funeral homes and providers are to charge customers a basic service fee. This service fee has to be paid irrespective of other arrangements. This fee includes the cost of planning the funeral, coordinating arrangements with the cemetery and other third parties, sheltering the remains of the deceased, securing any required permits, etc.
|Funeral Part||Cost for Burial||Cost for Cremation|
|Basic Service Fee||$2100||$2100|
|Transfer or Remains||$325||$325|
|Other Preparations of the Body||$250||$250|
|Use of Staff or other facilities||$425||$425|
|Service Car or van||$325||$325|
These costs will vary depending on your location in the U.S.
- Basic Service Fee: This includes the cost of the funeral company’s labor and equipment.
- Transfer of Remains: This is the cost for transporting the body to the mortuary.
- Embalming: The process of embalming is often necessary for open-casket services or if the body has to be transferred interstate.
- Miscellaneous Cosmetic Preparations: This is the cost for applying makeup, clothing, and hairdressing.
- Facility Usage for Viewing: If you decide to use the funeral home’s chapel for the service, you will pay this cost.
- Funeral Home Staff for Service: This is the fee for the services and assistance of the funeral home staff.
- Hearse: This vehicle is used to transport the deceased to the cemetery from the funeral home.
- Service Car/Van: This is used to transport family members or may even be used to transport the deceased instead of a hearse.
- Printed Memorial Package: Funeral homes often print pamphlets and prayer cards. The purpose of these is to honor the deceased and gives details about the service.
Metal Casket: The cost of the metal casket usually ranges from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the material. You can opt for mahogany, bronze, or copper caskets as well.
Vault: The coffin is enclosed in a vault to protect it from the weight of the earth and heavy maintenance equipment that passes over the grave.
- Cremation Casket: This casket is fully combustible. It is used to place the body in the cremation chamber.
- Cremation Fee: This is the cost to complete the cremation of the body.
- Urn: This is the container used to hold the ashes of the deceased.
Other funeral costs include:
- Funeral Plots: If you opt for a public funeral plot you may have to pay between $1,000 and $4,000. The average cost is at around $2,000, depending on the location. Private cemeteries are much more expensive.
- Grave Markers and Headstones: The cost of headstones usually ranges between $250 and $6,000. Plain, flat grave markers may cost you a few hundreds dollars. If you go for custom, more complex statues or monuments, they will cost you tens of thousands of dollars depending on the projects complexity.
- Flowers: On average flowers generally cost around $150 but this cost can easily vary depending on the type of flowers. Orchids, lilies and roses for example, are very expensive.
Will my state affect funeral costs?
Definitely! Your state, even your city will influence the funeral costs. You can ask funeral homes for a general price list in person. Most funeral homes are not required to share a price list on their website due to outdated disclosure laws.
This section will list the average funeral costs for the top 15 most populated cities in the U.S., followed by a list of top 10 cities that have the most and least expensive funeral, burial and cremation costs. The data shared below was compiled using Parting.com’s data as compiled by Finder.com.
The table below gives the average funeral costs for the most populated cities in the U.S.
|City||Cremation Costs||Traditional Funeral Costs|
|1) New York City||$3,915||$6,841|
|2) Los Angeles||$2,882||$5,639|
|7) San Antonio||$3,377||$6,299|
|8) San Diego||$3,213||$6,133|
|10) San Jose||$3,349||$6,381|
|13) San Francisco||$3,377||$6,779|
|15) Fort Worth||$3,962||$7,147|
Top 10 Cities with the most expensive traditional funerals
This section will list the top 10 cities that have the most expensive traditional funeral services with the cost.
- Rockville, Maryland ($9,847)
- Bernardsville, New Jersey ($9,265)
- Metairie, Louisiana ($9,191)
- Stamford, Connecticut ($9,121)
- Summit, New Jersey ($8,905)
- Chatham, New Jersey ($8,890)
- Milford, Connecticut ($8,578)
- Narragansett, Rhode Island ($8,565)
- Greenwich, Connecticut ($8,525)
- Parsippany, New Jersey ($8,480)
Top 10 cities with the least expensive traditional funerals
This section will list the top 10 cities that have the least expensive traditional funeral services with the cost.
- Las Cruces, New Mexico ($4,560)
- Olympia, Washington ($4,702)
- Moore, Oklahoma ($4,830)
- Oak Creek, Wisconsin ($4,940)
- Kailua, Hawaii ($4,974)
- Kingman, Arizona ($5,010)
- Grants Pass, Oregon ($5,061)
- Lawton, Oklahoma ($5,084)
- Hillsboro, Oregon ($5,185)
- Boone, North Carolina ($5,250)
Top 10 Cities with the most expensive cremation services
This section will list the top 10 cities that have the most expensive cremation services with the cost.
- Rockville, Maryland ($6,170)
- Parsippany, New Jersey ($6,130)
- Bernardsville, New Jersey ($5,920)
- Narragansett, Rhode Island ($5,620)
- Greenwich, Connecticut ($5,600)
- Summit, New Jersey ($5,595)
- Metairie, Louisiana ($5,546)
- Stamford, Connecticut ($5,540)
- Chatham, New Jersey ($5,450)
- Kalamazoo, Michigan ($5,313)
Top 10 Cities with the least expensive cremation services
This section will list the top 10 cities that have the least expensive cremation services with the cost.
- Las Cruces, New Mexico ($1,860)
- Olympia, Washington ($1,997)
- Moore, Oklahoma ($1,999)
- Grants Pass, Oregon ($2,178)
- Oak Creek, Wisconsin ($2,190)
- Kingman, Arizona ($2,210)
- Enid, Oklahoma ($2,315)
- Starkville, Mississippi ($2,334)
- Astoria, Oregon ($2,340)
- Hillsboro, Oregon ($2,373)
Am I paying too much for the funeral?
As mentioned above exploitation on the part of funeral providers is common. Therefore it is very important that you do your research so you are aware of the rates within your city and double check for changes. Keep in mind that funeral homes cannot force you to purchase services you don’t want.
Although you can use this guide to get a general idea of the basic funeral costs keep in mind that these rate will vary depending on where you are. You can also use the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist. This will help you an idea of what services are involved and you can use it to compare costs. If a funeral home has costs that are not on this checklist, ask them about it. You can find the list at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov.
How do I save money on funeral expenses?
Death is almost always an unexpected event. With the average funerals cost in the United States at around $15,000, it be very difficult to collect this amount. It is therefore important that you understand where this money goes. Purchasing unnecessary services will only lead to debt.
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when purchasing for funerals.
Ask for price lists
You have the right to ask funeral providers for a general price list. This list will have all the services available with their costs. You can purchase the services you need and the funeral providers cannot force you to buying services you don’t need.
To get an idea of the average funeral cost, contact as many funeral homes and providers as you can in your area.
Don’t tell funeral homes your budget
Never tell funeral homes your budget, always ask them for the best they can do.
Buy a casket or urn separately
You have the option of buying flowers, prayer cards, caskets or urns from outside. If you purchase them from the funeral home your funeral expenses will substantially increase.
Go for a refrigeration
Embalming is not necessary or legally required if the body is to be buried shortly after death. The Funeral rule states that funeral homes need permission for embalming services. If you intend on burying the body soon after death, opt for refrigeration, it will save you a lot in the funeral expenses.
Opt for a direct burial or cremation
With direct burial or cremation, you don’t need to host a funeral service or ceremony. This practice can probably save you thousands of dollars in funeral expenses. You can opt for an at-home funeral service instead. But this is a difficult decision as not everyone is willing to host funeral services by themselves.
How do I save up for my funeral?
As you have probably know by now, funerals are very expensive. The thought of having your family and loved ones arranging a huge amount for your funeral all by themselves can be terrifying. Here are some steps you can take during your life to save for funeral expenses.
Purchase burial insurance
Burial insurance is a type of whole life insurance that is designed specifically to cover your end of life expenses. It offers small face values, lenient underwriting, quick approvals and portability.
Burial insurance policies are affordable and it is very easy for people under 85 to qualify for them. If you are above 85, you can still qualify for a policy, but you will have less options.
Set cash aside
Start saving money now! Don’t use if for any other expenses. Don’t forget to name someone other than yourself as the account holder so they can access the funds after your death. You can also opt for a funeral trust. They ensure that the money is only to be used for your funeral.
Pre-pay your funeral home
Funeral homes offer pre-need policies. These are basically life insurance policies that have the funeral home as a beneficiary. This is a good choice especially if you aim to pay the funeral expenses over a period of time.
Sell assets after death
If you have no other mean to pay off your funeral expenses, you can sell your assets. This process take a long time as the assets have to go through the probate process before they are accessible.