How Much A Funeral Costs In America
When people start to have conversations about funerals, the first question that is asked is, “How much does a funeral cost?” This is also by far the hardest question to answer and should almost be answered with a question by asking, “How much do you want it to cost?” From a budgeting perspective, having a funeral is like having a wedding… it can cost as much or little as you want it to.
We’ve compiled information on the average costs associated with a funeral from the NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association). These averages also leave a lot of room for additional costs that may not have been factored in.
How Much Does It Cost To Be Cremated?
The average cremation cost in 2019 is $6,260. This includes a service and cremation along with an urn, and memorial prints. This does not include flowers, Urn Plots or an Obituary.
If you were to do it at a private residence, direct cremations often cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 depending on where you live.
How Much Does It Cost To Be Buried?
According to the NFDA, the average cost of a funeral and burial is $7,360. If you get a vault, that average rises to around $8,755.
It’s very important to point out that this does not include a plot and headstone. A burial plot typically costs anywhere between $700 and $2,000 for public cemeteries and $2,000 to $5,000 for private cemeteries.
Vaults, mausoleums, and upright headstones can add thousands of dollars to your end cost as well.
How much does a headstone cost?
Grave marker and headstone prices vary widely between $1,000 for a basic marker and as much as $5,000 for an upright headstone.
What Is The Average Cost of a Funeral?
When you add it all up, an unexpected funeral with the cost of the full services, grave plot, and marker, can easily cost between $9,000 and $15,000. This cost can be extremely unexpected to many. If so, you should consider a burial insurance policy to cover the costs.
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Summary Of Funeral Expenses and Fees
As you can see, a funeral has many moving parts. Whether you want a burial or cremation, each service has different elements that make up the total cost.
Here is a break down of expenses:
Professional Service Fee ($2,100):
This fee covers the cost of their labor and equipment, storing the body, etc.
Transportation of Remains to the Funeral Home ($325):
This is the charge for the transfer of the body to the mortuary.
Embalming is often required for open-casket services or if the body is going to be transferred interstate.
Miscellaneous Cosmetic Preparations ($250):
This fee covers the cost of applying makeup, clothing, and hairdressing.
Facility Usage for Viewing ($425):
This cost will apply if you wish to use the funeral home’s chapel for the service.
Funeral Home Staff for Service ($500):
You will only pay this if you choose to use the services of the funeral home staff to assist with the funeral ceremony.
This is the vehicle used to transport the deceased from the funeral home to the cemetery.
Service Car/Van ($150):
This vehicle can transport family members or may be used to transport a body instead of a hearse.
Printed Memorial Package ($160):
Funeral homes will often print pamphlets and prayer cards honoring the deceased and detailing the outline of the service.
Metal Casket ($2,400):
How much does a casket cost? Casket prices can be one of the costliest line items of a funeral, depending on what you go with. Online stores have caskets as low as $500 but you will want to read a lot of reviews before committing to purchasing such an important item that needs to be shipped to you and might show up damaged or with a quality that’s less than advertised. On the other end of the spectrum, copper or high end finishes can run a casket cost of over $10,000.
This is the enclosure the coffin rests in to protect it from the weight of the ground and heavy maintenance equipment that will pass over the grave.
Cremation Casket ($1000):
This is a fully combustible container a body is placed in to be inserted into the cremation chamber.
Cremation Fee ($350):
There is a basic cost to complete the cremation of the body.
The container that holds the ashes of the deceased can be pricey.
Funeral Plots (~$2,000):
Depending on the type of plot and your location, prices can range from $1,000 to $4,000 for a public plot; private cemeteries tend to be more expensive.
Urn Plots ($250-1,000):
Just like a burial plot, many cemeteries offer plots for the urns of loved ones. These plots are usually much cheaper as the urns do not have the same space requirements as the burial plot. Just like anything else, geography or space availability can still have a big impact on this number.
Grave Markers and Headstones (~$250-$6,000):
Plain, flat grave markers usually cost hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands, while custom upright monuments or statues can cost more than $10,000 depending on the project’s complexity. One of the deceiving parts about this number is that there might also be an “Installation Fee” that is charged separately. Most of research showed that you could find a Marker for as low as $250-500 but you would then pay an additional $500 for installation.
Typically the family will want to buy a casket spray or wreath, which will vary in cost depending on the types of flowers in question. (For example, orchids, lilies, and roses can be very expensive.)
How To Save On Funeral Costs
It’s very important to understand these expenses and have a budget or burial insurance plan in place as soon as possible. Even basic funeral services can lead to unexpected debt without a plan in place.
Here are some simple steps to significantly reduce funeral expenses:
1. Decide on your budget
This is a moment where unfortunately you’re probably not going to be making the most levelheaded decisions due to the emotions your going through. Before walking into anywhere, calling anywhere or going to a website…you need to stop, consult with a family member and decide what you are even willing to spend. A lot of times, if you can take a few moments to really figure that out first, everything else will be decided based on that. You would not believe the number of items that can be added to a service for a “small but noticeable fee.” We were even told that we could have white doves released at my mother’s service if we wanted….
2. Shop Around
Once you know your budget, you need to shop as much as possible to get the numbers as low as you can for each item. The reason is that, just like any other event you’ve ever had to plan before, there are going to be unplanned cost that come up. Call four to seven funeral homes to get estimates on the services you are interested in. If you can have friends buy the food and flowers from Costco/ Sams Club, go for it. There are already several items where the cost will be out your control somewhat, so you need to have a friend/ family member help you take control of the items that you can.
3. Keep Your Budget a Secret
Don’t tell the funeral homes how much money you are working with. If they ask you what your budget is, simply say, “I’m not sure, but it won’t be much. What’s the best you can do?” If you tell them the budget, they’ll end up finding a way to make sure you spend every penny of it.
To sum it all up, it’s vitally important to think about how much a funeral actually costs and plan ahead of time. The longer you wait, you or your loved ones may become overwhelmed when seeing the costs of a funeral for the first time.
If you’re planning ahead of time and would like more information, you can call us to speak to an agent and we will be more than happy to see if a funeral insurance policy makes sense for your budget. Our goal is to make all of this as simple as possible to navigate.