Planning a funeral is emotionally difficult and can be overwhelming.
The pain of losing a family member or loved one is what makes planning difficult. It also doesn’t help that funeral home prices can seem hazy or completely confusing.
Despite a regulation passed in 1984 that requires funeral homes to provide detailed price lists, many funeral homes disguise their prices by promoting packages during the sale process. NPR He even published a two-part series exposing the death care industry, stating that families could pay hundreds less, if not thousands less, simply by crossing the street to another funeral home.
There is no question that funerals are an emotional burden, but they don’t have to be a financial burden as well.
By understanding the average cost of funeral expenses, you can experience greater peace of mind as you plan to commemorate the life of your loved one.
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Why are funerals so expensive?
Before breaking down the average cost of funerals, it’s important to understand why they are so expensive in the first place.
Unfortunately, the death care industry can be predatory. In general, there are two main reasons why grieving families are easy to take advantage of:
- It is (hopefully) a rare event. Most people only plan a funeral a handful of times in their lives. Due to this lack of frequency, consumers do not know which costs are normal and which are not.
Think of it this way: You usually have a general idea of how much your groceries will cost before you even walk into the store. How? Because you buy these foods frequently, month after month, year after year. Even if you don’t buy a specific item every time you go shopping, you probably have an idea of what the price will be due to your familiarity with the market.
However, when it comes to funerals, that sense of familiarity disappears. Suddenly, families find themselves in uncertain territory. This unfamiliarity makes it easy for bad players in the death care industry to raise prices.
- Families are emotionally overwhelmed. When you are tired, exhausted and exhausted, your sense of judgment suffers. It is not uncommon for families to make hasty decisions because they are in the middle of an emotional moment.
Due to emotional trauma, families fall into the “cost equals quality” trap. In other words, the more expensive a funeral is, the more we honor and remember our loved one, or so you think. When this perspective is at stake, it is easy for families to feel guilty and spend more on a funeral than they can actually afford.
At the end of the day, funeral homes are businesses, not non-profit organizations. But there is a difference between charging fair prices and taking advantage of a vulnerable market.
We’ve outlined the average cost of funeral expenses below so you can plan with peace of mind.
What is the average cost of a funeral?
Today, the average cost of a funeral in the United States is on the order of $ 7,000 to $ 12,000. Whether the cost of the funeral is at the lower or upper end of the spectrum depends on many factors, including where it is located, the services you choose, and where the body is buried or cremated.
However, the average cost of a funeral (the number right in the middle) is $ 7,640. This includes a visit and a burial. For burials that require a vault, as is often the case with cemeteries, the median cost increases to $ 9,135.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an excellent breakdown of the costs you can expect when planning a funeral. Additionally, the FTC also describes your rights throughout the process:
The average cost of a casket is just over $ 2,000. However, high-end caskets, especially those made of mahogany, bronze, or copper, can sell for more than $ 10,000. The 1984 Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to show you a list of all caskets the home sells. This list should include descriptions and prices. Statistically speaking, most families buy one of the first three caskets shown, so it is critical to have this list of prices before the caskets are displayed. Because funeral directors know that you are more likely to buy one of the first three caskets you see, it is in their best interest to show you the more expensive models in advance. Having this list will help protect you and your family from being exploited.
The expected cost range for a basic cremation is between $ 800 and $ 3,000. This is mainly based on where you live. The lowest cremation cost in Las Vegas is recorded at $ 495, while the highest cremation cost in Houston, TX is recorded at $ 6,800. If you are looking for a cheap cremation, ask for a “direct cremation”. However, a direct cremation means there will be no funeral, memorial, or display. You will receive the ashes of your loved one directly.
Embalming and preparation.
The average cost of embalming is $ 600. Many funeral homes require this if you are planning a visit or visit. However, if you opt for immediate post-death cremation rather than an open casket funeral, then you are not legally required to embalm. As a consumer, you have the right to decide. This means that a funeral home cannot provide embalming services without explicit permission. If they embalm without permission, they cannot charge you for those services.
Funeral director service fee.
This is a standard fee charged for funerals and covers the cost of fees and administrative services. Families can expect to pay $ 1,500 for this fee. It’s also not uncommon to pay an additional $ 1,000 for the funeral ceremony itself, as well as the viewing. The additional fee may cover funeral home rental, staff, and brochures and supplies.
According to the FTC, the majority of funeral costs are generally attributed to the cost of the casket. However, there are several minor miscellaneous costs that can add up quickly. Do you want an obituary written? How about a hearse? That is an additional fee. Unfortunately, a death certificate also costs money.
When planning a funeral, it is important to remember that costs do not stop once the funeral is over. It is important to save some money in your cemetery budget.
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The average family will spend $ 2,000 for the cemetery in addition to what they paid for the funeral. This includes the space of the grave, as well as the cost of digging the grave, which is sometimes referred to as the “open / close fee.”
Finally, the last important financial consideration is whether you want a headstone (averaging $ 2,000) or a headstone (averaging $ 1,000). A headstone is a granite rock that rests on the grave. They are usually two feet tall, although there are many options available. A headstone, on the other hand, lies flat on the ground and is usually a granite or bronze plaque.
Is it possible to save money on a funeral?
While funeral and burial costs can add up quickly, there are still ways to stay on budget and remember your loved one with honor and dignity.
First, it is important to remember your rights as a consumer. For example, you have the legal right to a detailed breakdown of costs. Thanks to the 1984 Funeral Rule, you are also entitled to a complete list of caskets sold by the funeral home. This list should include descriptions and prices of the individual caskets.
Lastly, don’t feel guilty about shopping. Because this is an emotionally difficult time, families often feel pressured to choose the first funeral home they go to. Or sometimes they just choose a funeral home without asking others why the family has used it before.
Knowing your rights, comparing prices, and being aware of average costs will help ensure that your family only pays what it should.
It’s daunting to think about it, but one of the ways to soften the blow of funeral costs is to plan ahead. While some deaths are unexpected and premature, there are others that we can plan for, such as the eventual passing of elderly parents. Of course, this doesn’t make the situation any less tragic or emotional, but planning ahead can help relieve stress at an emotionally charged time.