funerals cost breakdown

How much do funerals cost on average ?

“How much does a funeral cost?” is the first question you hear from people planning for funerals.In this article we will explain funeral costs breakdown. According to the National Funeral Directors Association funeral costs in the United States range between $1,500 and $15,000 with $7,360 being the average burial and funeral cost and $6,260 the cremation cost. With cost of funerals rising since the 1980s, today even the most basic funeral expenses have become difficult to afford.

Families often over spend on funerals. The reasons for this overspending include:

  • Clouded judgement due to the emotional impact of loss
  • Pressing time constraints
  • On spot decisions
  • No prior experience in handling funerals
  • Funeral homes exploiting the situation

In such a situation, the best way to save yourself money is by being aware of the average funeral costs and the cost of each funeral item. This makes it easier for you to decide what you need, what you don’t and what would be nice to have.

Funeral costs breakdown of Burial vs. Cremation

Opting for burial or cremation is a very personal decision. Though burial has been the traditional method, cremation has been gaining popularity over the past few years, making it difficult to decide.

The purpose of this section is to go over the difference burial and cremation, followed by the pros and cons for each.

Either burial or cremation take place after the funeral. With cremation, the body is incinerated. The ashes can then be scattered, buried or kept with family or loved ones. In the case of burial, the body remains intact.  

Pros of Cremation

  • Cost less
  • Less time consuming
  • The funeral service can be held before or after the cremation
  • The ashes are portable
  • Helps with the issue of overcrowded cemeteries
  • Considered environmentally friendly

Cons of Cremation

  • May be against the deceased’s religion
  • Cannot be undone
  • May make mourning difficult

Pros of Burial

  • Gives a burial site to visit
  • Considered more natural
  • Gives loved ones more closure

Cons of Burial

  • Expensive
  • Loved ones may not be able to visit grave site

Breakdown of funeral expenses

A funeral has several parts. You can opt for either a burial or cremation. The purpose of this section is to explain each part for both burial and cremation and the cost associated with it.  

According to the Funeral Rule, funeral providers and funeral homes charge customers a basic service fee. Regardless of your arrangements, this fee has to be paid. This fee includes the cost of funeral planning, sheltering the remains, coordinating arrangements with the cemetery, securing the required permits, etc.   

Funeral Part

Cost for Burial

Cost for Cremation

Basic Service Fee

$2100

$2100

Transfer or Remains

$325

$325

Embalming

$725

$725

Other Preparations of the Body

$250

$250

Use of Staff or other facilities

$425

$425

Hearse

$500

 

Service Car or van

$325

$325

Memorial Prints

$150

$150

Metal Casket

$2400

 

Cremation Fee

 

$350

Cremation Casket

 

$1000

Urn

 

$275

These costs will vary depending on our location in the U.S.

  • Basic Service Fee: This is the fee for funeral company’s labor and equipment.
  • Transfer of Remains: This is the fee for transporting the body to the mortuary.
  • Embalming: The process of embalming is often required for open-casket services or if the body has to be transferred interstate.
  • Miscellaneous Cosmetic Preparations: This is the fee for applying makeup, clothing, and hairdressing.
  • Facility Usage for Viewing: This is the fee for using the funeral home’s chapel for the service.
  • Funeral Home Staff for Service: This is the fee for the funeral home’s services and assistance.
  • Hearse: This is the vehicle used to transport the deceased from the funeral home to the cemetery.
  • 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: This is the fee for pamphlets and prayer cards. Funeral homes print these is to honor the deceased and gives details about the service.
  • Metal Casket:Metal caskets cost between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the material you go for. You can opt for mahogany, bronze, or copper caskets.
  • Vault:The vault encloses the coffin. Its purpose is to protect the coffin from the weight of the earth and heavy maintenance equipment that passes over the grave.
  • Cremation Casket: The body is placed in this combustible casket and then sent to the cremation chamber.
  • Cremation Fee: This is the fee for cremating the body.
  • Urn: The urn is a container that holds the ashes of the deceased.

Other funeral costs include:

  • Funeral Plots: The average cost of public funeral plots is around $2,000 but it usually ranges between $1,000 and $4,000. The cost may vary depending on the location. Private cemeteries cost a lot more. 
  • Grave Markers and Headstones: The cost of headstones usually ranges between $250 and $6,000. If you opt for plain, flat grave markers, it will cost you a few hundreds of dollars. Custom, more complex statues or monuments, will cost you tens of thousands of dollars depending on the project’s complexity.
  • Flowers: Flowers usually cost around $150 but this cost can easily go up depending on the type of flowers. Orchids, roses and lilies, for example, are very expensive.

Will funeral costs vary depending on my state ?

Absolutely! Funeral costs are affected by your state and even your city. You may have to ask funeral homes in your areas for price lists. As the outdated disclosure laws mean most funeral homes do not have to share a price list on their website.

This section will be covering the average funeral costs for the top 15 most populated American cities, followed by a list of the top 10 cities with the most and least expensive funeral, burial and cremation costs. The data listed 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

3) Chicago

$3,948

$6,964

4) Houston

$4,146

$7,443

5) Phoenix

$2,970

$5,961

6) Philadelphia

$3,595

$6,674

7) San Antonio

$3,377

$6,299

8) San Diego

$3,213

$6,133

9) Dallas

$3,882

$7,121

10) San Jose

$3,349

$6,381

11) Austin

$4,059

$7,263

12) Jacksonville

$3,607

$6,869

13) San Francisco

$3,377

$6,779

14) Columbus

$2,747

$5,737

15) Fort Worth

$3,962

$7,147

Top 10 Cities with the most expensive traditional funerals

This section will be listing the top 10 cities with the most expensive traditional funeral services with the cost.

  1. Rockville, Maryland ($9,847)
  2. Bernardsville, New Jersey ($9,265)
  3. Metairie, Louisiana ($9,191)
  4. Stamford, Connecticut ($9,121)
  5. Summit, New Jersey ($8,905)
  6. Chatham, New Jersey ($8,890)
  7. Milford, Connecticut ($8,578)
  8. Narragansett, Rhode Island ($8,565)
  9. Greenwich, Connecticut ($8,525)
  10. Parsippany, New Jersey ($8,480)

Top 10 cities with the least expensive traditional funerals

This section will be listing the top 10 cities with the least expensive traditional funeral services with the cost.

  1. Las Cruces, New Mexico ($4,560)
  2. Olympia, Washington ($4,702)
  3. Moore, Oklahoma ($4,830)
  4. Oak Creek, Wisconsin ($4,940)
  5. Kailua, Hawaii ($4,974)
  6. Kingman, Arizona ($5,010)
  7. Grants Pass, Oregon ($5,061)
  8. Lawton, Oklahoma ($5,084)
  9. Hillsboro, Oregon ($5,185)
  10. Boone, North Carolina ($5,250)

Top 10 Cities with the most expensive cremation services

This section will be listing the top 10 cities with the most expensive cremation services with the cost.

  1. Rockville, Maryland ($6,170)
  2. Parsippany, New Jersey ($6,130)
  3. Bernardsville, New Jersey ($5,920)
  4. Narragansett, Rhode Island ($5,620)
  5. Greenwich, Connecticut ($5,600)
  6. Summit, New Jersey ($5,595)
  7. Metairie, Louisiana ($5,546)
  8. Stamford, Connecticut ($5,540)
  9. Chatham, New Jersey ($5,450)
  10. Kalamazoo, Michigan ($5,313)

Top 10 Cities with the least expensive cremation services

This section will be listing the top 10 cities with the least expensive cremation services with the cost.

  1. Las Cruces, New Mexico ($1,860)
  2. Olympia, Washington ($1,997)
  3. Moore, Oklahoma ($1,999)
  4. Grants Pass, Oregon ($2,178)
  5. Oak Creek, Wisconsin ($2,190)
  6. Kingman, Arizona ($2,210)
  7. Enid, Oklahoma ($2,315)
  8. Starkville, Mississippi ($2,334)
  9. Astoria, Oregon ($2,340)
  10. Hillsboro, Oregon ($2,373)

Am I paying too much for the funeral?

When shopping for funerals or burial insurance, be sure to compare rates within your city and double check for changes. You can use this guide to get an idea of the basic funeral costs but remember that they will vary depending on your location. Remember that funeral homes cannot force you to buy services you do not need. You can also use the Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist by the Federal Trade Commission’s to get an idea of the services involved and use it for comparing costs. If funeral homes have costs that you cannot find on that 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 unforeseen event. It can be very hard to arrange huge amounts for the funeral while you are still grieving the loss of your loved one. With average funerals cost at around $15,000, it is very important that you understand where the money goes. Purchasing services you don’t need may land you in debt.

Here are a few things you should consider when purchasing for funerals.

Ask for price lists

It is your right to ask funeral homes for a general price list. This list will contain a separate entry for each service or goods available. You can select the services you want from the list and funeral homes cannot pressure you into buying services you don’t need.

Compare

Call as many funeral homes as you can in your city to get an idea of the average funeral cost and the services you are interested in.

Don’t tell funeral homes your budget

Don’t tell the funeral homes your budget, ask them for the best they can do.

Buy a casket or urn separately

Purchasing items like flowers, prayer cards, caskets or urns directly from the funeral home can greatly increase your funeral expenses. Buying them separately will save you a lot of money.  

Go for a refrigeration

Embalming is only required if the body is not buried within a certain time after death. According to the Funeral Rule, funeral homes cannot provide embalming services without permission. If the body is to be buried shortly after death, opt for refrigeration, it will save you a lot in the funeral expenses.  

Opt for a direct burial or cremation

With a direct burial or cremation, there is no funeral service or ceremony. This can save you thousands of dollars in funeral expenses. You can host an at-home funeral service instead. But this is a difficult decision for most people as not everyone is willing to host funeral services by themselves.

How do I save up for my funeral?

As you have probably figured out yourself, funerals are not cheap. The mere thought of having your family and loved ones to dealing with it alone can be frightening. Here are a few steps you can take during your life to prepare for funeral expenses.

Purchase burial insurance

Burial insurance is a kind of whole life insurance, designed specifically to take care of your end of life expenses. It offers the advantages of lenient underwriting, small face values, portability and quick approvals.

Burial insurance policies are affordable. Many companies offer senior life insurance where burial is included. If you are under 85, you can easily qualify for one. If you are above 85, you can still qualify for a policy, but you will have fewer options.   

Set cash aside

Start setting aside cash specifically for your funeral now. Do not use it for any other occasion. Also remember to name someone else as the account holder. You can also go for funeral trusts. Funeral trusts will ensure that the money is only to be used for the funeral.

Pre-pay your funeral home

Most funeral homes allow a pre-need policy. Pre-need policies are basically life insurance policies that have funeral homes as beneficiaries. This can be a good option if you want to pay the funeral expenses over a period of time.

Sell assets after death

If you have no other options available, pay off the funeral expenses by having your assets sold. This should be a last resort as this is a lengthy process where the assets have to go through the probate process before they are accessible.

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