ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Plan a Frugal Funeral

Updated on February 18, 2016

Funeral Expenses Can Be Reduced to a Manageable Amount

The average American funeral costs between $8,000 and $15,000. Such an expense can be a real hardship on a family that is already suffering emotionally. What many people need are inexpensive funerals or funeral alternatives.

There are ways that funeral expenses and burial costs can be greatly reduced. It isn't necessary to spend yourself into bankruptcy to honor your loved ones. It is possible to hold a meaningful and tasteful funeral and stay within a tight budget. A few simple considerations can help make a difficult time a bit less expensive.

photo by Jan Willem Geertsma
photo by Jan Willem Geertsma

Plan Ahead Funerals

Pre-planning a funeral saves money and reduces stress.

Many people don't plan ahead for their own funerals or the funerals of loved ones so the survivors are left to make big financial decisions while emotionally distraught. The grieving process is not a good time to make any big decisions at all. Planning ahead can greatly reduce not only costs but the stress of making decisions related to the funeral and burial.

If you can afford it, you can pre-plan with the funeral home of your choice and pay for funeral expenses in advance. This not only allows you to make decisions and ask questions in a calm and rational mindset, it allows you to lock in a price.

Even if you can't afford to pre-pay for funeral expenses, planning what will be done, where, and by whom will save money and stress.

Provide Your Own Officiate for the Funeral

Spend less and have a more personal funeral service.

Ask a pastor, priest, friend or family member to preside over the services. If you use the services of an officiate provided by the funeral home it will not only be more costly, the funeral service will be less personal. I've been to several funeral services at which I was saddened to hear someone who didn't know my loved one talk about him or her and it made the experience somehow feel too generic to properly honor a person I cared about.

US Navy 030830-N-3228G-005 Cryptologic Technician Operator 3rd Class Evan Allen, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) pours the cremated remains of his grandfather Darrell Allen, a Pearl Harbor survivor
US Navy 030830-N-3228G-005 Cryptologic Technician Operator 3rd Class Evan Allen, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) pours the cremated remains of his grandfather Darrell Allen, a Pearl Harbor survivor

Cremation, an Economical Funeral Solution

Cremation is probably the least expensive funeral alternatives available. It generally costs between one and two thousand dollars for a basic cremation. This is the option I want for myself. I've made it clear to my loved ones that when the time comes, I want to be cremated and have my ashes sprinkled somewhere.

While some people have their ashes buried in a burial plot, sprinkling the ashes somewhere (the ocean, grandma's rose garden, etc.) is the most frugal option. The ceremony for spreading the ashes can be very meaningful for loved ones.

Some people object to basic cremation because it allows no time for family and other loved ones to spend time with the body and to say their goodbyes. For them, there is another cremation option. A casket can be rented and a visitation held before the body is cremated. This will remove the cost of a purchased casket, a plot, and burial charges - thousands of dollars. If a single visitation is held, soon after death, no embalming may be necessary.

Others object to cremation on religious or philosophical grounds so other options need to be found for them.

Supply Your Own Pallbearers

If you don’t supply enough people to carry the casket, the funeral home will charge for the pallbearers that they supply. Supplying your own pallbearers is also a good practice because it is considered an honor to be asked to be a pallbearer.

funeral visitation, photo from
funeral visitation, photo from

Limit the Visitation Time

Even reducing the visitation time by a single day can greatly reduce funeral costs. Also, if visitation is kept short, the body may not need to be embalmed, depending on the law in your area.

Consider a Funeral at Home

The room in the funeral home must be rented every day it is used. Some people save money by having the funeral at their own home or the home of the deceased. It can also allow for a more personal ceremony. This cheaper funeral alternative makes final goodbyes a more personal and intimate experience. For some, a funeral at home is also a religious tradition.

I've attended several funerals and memorial services held at home and I found the familiar surroundings to be more comforting than the often impersonal and commercial setting of a funeral home.

Embalming will be required for most home funerals due to health regulations. While this option reduces the cost due to rental room, transport of your loved one will still have to be arranged.

Learn More About How to Plan a Frugal Funeral

How to Bankroll a Funeral Without Breaking the Bank
How to Bankroll a Funeral Without Breaking the Bank
This short book provides even more suggestions on how to afford to honor a loved one and still have money to live on.
photo by Chris Scott, SXC
photo by Chris Scott, SXC

Supply Clothing for the Deceased

When the funeral home supplies the clothing for your loved one's funeral it will come with a very hefty price tag. Simply choose something from your loved one's closet or purchase something in his or her size and you will save a substantial amount.

It is also a good idea to supply the clothes yourself because it insures that your loved one will be dressed in a familiar way rather than in something that looks out of place. My uncle was buried in a three piece suit and it looked strange because it was really out of character, counter to his sense of taste. I think it would have been better if he'd been buried in one of the suits we'd all seen him wear before.

photo by Jenny Erickson
photo by Jenny Erickson

No Gasket on Your Casket

Find out if it is within regulations to have a non-gasket casket. The gasket hermetically seals the casket. If that isn't important to you, find out where you can avoid it and save on an unnecessary feature.

Skip the Embalming

Find out what the rules and laws are in your area regarding embalming and skip it whenever you can. Skipping embalming can save up to several thousand dollars. My grandmother skipped embalming when she pre-planned her own funeral because she was upset by the idea of it and wanted her body to go more naturally into the earth.

photo by Jenny Erickson
photo by Jenny Erickson

Rent a Casket - Maybe

In some cases, renting a casket then having burial in a basic box can save money, but in others the assorted charges involved can make it cost as much as purchasing one. One such case is when embalming is required for a rental casket but not a purchased casket.

burial plot
burial plot

Find an Inexpensive Burial Plot

Shop around and find a burial plot that won't break the bank. But then there's the cheapest burial plot - one on your private property. But if you decide to bury or be buried on your own property, carefully study the law on the subject and first find out what is and is not legal in your area.

Apply for All Applicable Burial Benefits

There is a Social Security death benefit of several hundred dollars which survivors of people on Social Security can use toward funeral expenses. Veterans also have benefits which apply toward their funerals so be sure to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to find out what they are and how to get them applied to a funeral.

Funeral flowers, photo by Kylyssa Shay
Funeral flowers, photo by Kylyssa Shay

Limit the Flowers

A traditional casket spray or grave blanket will cost hundreds of dollars. Try a non-traditional arrangement such as roses or other favorite flowers just laid on the casket in water tubes or even without a water source for single day visitations. Or even skip the flowers entirely.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)