Choosing certain types of funeral or cremation arrangements can eliminate many unnecessary funeral costs.  Choosing wisely will prevent you from being charged for lots of “extras” no one told you about.

Since most families do not plan funerals very often, they usually don't realize what's included (or excluded) in the decisions they make.  All too often a family simply agrees to the funeral director's recommendations - only to end up surprised when their final bill is 30% higher than expected.

Even though many of the goods and services offered by a funeral home are priced on an individual basis, certain selections you make will automatically trigger additional costs.  Unfortunately, most families don't find out about these additional costs until after the service is over and they get the funeral director's bill.

Here's an example of how this works:

When meeting with the funeral director he might suggest a "traditional" funeral priced at $500.  You agree....thinking $500 isn't too bad.  However, what you didn't realize (and what the funeral director failed to mention) is that a "traditional" funeral also means that you will need:

    • embalming (another $500)
    • casket ($1,500)
    • viewing or visitation ($500)
    • cemetery space ($1,000)
    • open & closing the grave site ($750)
    • outer burial container ($1,000)
    • headstone ($1,500)
    • announcing the funeral in a newspaper ($250)
    • use of a hearse ($200) when the funeral director said the "traditional" funeral service costs $500 - he meant it would cost $500 to hold the actual 45 minute funeral service.  But, by choosing a "traditional" funeral service, you were also agreeing to purchase all of the other things that are required to conduct a traditional funeral.

In this case your total cost would be closer to $7,700.  This is a realistic example (the average traditional funeral costs nearly $8,000).  Simply understanding what's included in the decisions you make can help you avoid such a nasty financial surprise.

You can use a resource like the Funeral $aver’s Kit to learn about the types of funeral, burial, and cremation arrangements from which you can choose.  Section 2 of the kit identifies costs associated with each service and clearly shows which expenses will be included (or excluded) based on the choices you make.

Generally, your least expensive options (in order of increasing price) are:

    • medical donation
    • direct cremation
    • immediate burial
    • cremation with service
    • traditional funeral

If you would like to save money the next time you need to make funeral arrangements, you can search and compare local funeral home pricing at

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