Cents and Sensibility

Five Ways to Save on Funeral Costs

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Funeral directors can talk grieving people into more luxurious purchases, such as a more “comfortable” casket, for their deceased loved one. Grief aside, however, the truth is that you should treat funeral costs the same as you would any other purchase.

Check out these five tips to save on funeral costs:

1. Say “no” to the “flossy” casket: Most of these caskets claim to protect the deceased’s body once it’s in the ground. These special flashy caskets cost families at least $700 — and the funeral home much less. I have to ask: Why does a casket need to be fancy six feet deep? Just what are we protecting the body from, anyway? When making decisions on the casket, think with your financially savvy mind and not your emotions.

2. Donate to a medical facility: If you and your family aren’t interested in having a memorial service, donation of the body may be the way to go. Typically, there are no costs the family members if they donate the deceased’s body to a medical facility or school. Also, many medical schools facilitate memorial services for the families at a later date, if the family is interested in such a service. Furthermore, the family can ask for the cremation remains, if they so desire.

3. Opt for wood: There is no law that requires purchase of a casket for cremations. If you decide to cremate your loved one without a funeral or viewing of the body, you don’t have to purchase a casket. You can simply have a direct cremation and place the ashes in whatever you wish. This is one of the most cost-efficient options.

4. Say “no thanks” to embalming: The average cost for embalming is $750. If you plan to have a funeral that will happen within a day or two, save $700 by skipping the embalming process and ask for the deceased body to stay refrigerated for $50 per day. There is no law that requires embalming for funerals. Save your money with nearly the same results.

5. Do your research: Just like any purchase, shop around before you spend your money on a major item. Doing your research for funeral costs can save you thousands of dollars. By law, funeral homes have to give you prices over the phone; therefore, you don’t have to physically go from place to place. Don’t automatically pay for the services for the neighborhood’s funeral home, which may be the most expensive. Do some calling around and narrow your search.

About Dr. Karen Ratliff

Karen Ratliff

Credit: Dr. Karen Ratliff

Dr. Ratliff is a certified life coach and professional educator, assisting many people in accomplishing financial, career, and educational goals.  She is also the author of “Tightening Your Bootstraps: 104 Tips to Kick Your Debt to the Curb Now.” Keep up with her budgetary advice via Twitter @drkarenratliff  her website at, and her facebook fanpage “Financially Focused with Dr. Karen Ratliff.”