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How To Save Money On Funeral Costs: Beating The High Cost of Dying

Updated on March 27, 2011

This is a rather macabre subject, but let’s face it.....having a funeral can be really, really expensive.  When I think about my own funeral, I think I might literally turn over in my grave or something if I thought of my family paying a bucket load of money to see me off into the hereafter! 

Most people only think about funerals when the need arises.  It’s just something we put off discussing and put off planning for because let’s face one wants to think about dying and no one certainly wants to think about their loved ones dying.

Funeral planning has to be at the low end of the spectrum on things to plan for I suppose but then on the other hand, when it comes to budgeting for the ultimate goodbye, wouldn't it be a good idea to save money if we could?  Or at least have some knowledge base to go on so we don't get taken to the cleaners?

My husband's niece is married to a mortician and they run a funeral parlor in Michigan.  During a recent conversation, she was kind enough to point out some of the ways these days that people are trying to save money on funerals. 

Here's some of the information I've gathered in talking to her (thank you, Lisa) and also in doing some more research! I think it's worth considering.


You can rent a casket! Renting a casket is quite commonplace....who knew this? They have special caskets with a liner inside so that you can have a traditional funeral in terms of viewing the body and having a service. However, after the service, the body is removed along with the liner and then cremated. You can receive the ashes back and then do what you want with them or have them stored in a crematorium.

How does this save you money? Caskets are probably the biggest ticket item in a funeral! You can of course shop around......again who knew this? You can actually buy caskets on-line or some Costco stores carry them!

Also not having to transport the casket to its final resting place, i.e. the cemetery, buying a vault (which is required by law now), openings and closings for viewings, vehicles for the funeral procession, etc. add up to a huge savings.

In other words, you can have the service with all the trimmings and eulogies, you can view the deceased and say your goodbyes, and then that’s the end of the "show". The deceased is then get the ashes.....end of story.

Cremation is becoming the funeral wave of the future because it’s so much less expensive. But renting a casket and having a funeral service is important to many people because it represents closure and satisfies many people’s religious beliefs in terms of a proper goodbye.

It is estimated that about 60% of people will turn to cremation in the next few years because of the outrageous cost of having a "standard" funeral.

I had already decided that cremation would be my funeral of choice, but I do like the idea of having a service and allowing people to have closure. Memorial services are great.....I’ve been to quite a few.....but sometimes they don’t feel the same as an actual funeral for a person that you have loved and treasured.


A mortuary sometimes won't even tell you that you can save on these things. It's usually after the fact that most people find out how much money they could have saved.

When death knocks at your door, even if you’re prepared for it, you are at your most vulnerable. It’s always a good idea to know in advance what your options are and hopefully this will help you decide in your time of need.

  • Caskets R’Us. It may sound a little sacrilegious but it’s can buy caskets anywhere you can find them…on-line, at the casket store (where are these places?), or even at Costco. You do not have to buy a casket from the funeral home, though they will try to sell you their caskets because they are making major bucks off this high ticket item. They also try and sell you (usually) the Cadillac of all caskets by employing a bit of arm twisting such as "just how much did you love this person?"

    In my humble opinion, either the deceased knew how much you cared about him or her before they died or they didn’t....and a high tech casket "with all the bells and whistles" isn’t going to make a hill of beans any way you look at things now. And what will the dearly departed do with a casket with all the "bells and whistles" on it anyway? That's just creepy~!

    The funeral home has to accept an "outside" casket...they cannot refuse to use one you’ve purchased elsewhere. They might even (if they’re smart) try and match the price though.
  • Embalming is not mandatory! Who knew this either? Public visitation and viewing require embalming but family members can still visit and say goodbye to their loved ones without them being embalmed. This is a private viewing. For any public services without the deceased being embalmed, the casket would remain closed.
  • Don’t rent but buy. You can buy cremation caskets rather than pay for the rental casket. This is another option and again, saves you from spending thousands of dollars on a casket for burial.

    It's also important to note that you cannot get away with just the burial casket either. There are many hidden fees and the service cost goes up and up. A regular casket these days has to be sold with a vault that it will reside in.

    Rental caskets and even cremation caskets for purchase are in the hundreds of dollars versus thousands of dollars for a regular casket. For the rental caskets or the cremation caskets, there are no other costs involved except the service.
  • Take the party elsewhere. You can hold visitations of the body and even the service at a church....not the funeral home.....and you can hold it at other places, such as a nursing facility. Holding it at the funeral home will cost you money whereas if you are a member of a church, it may only require a donation....and will probably be more to everyone’s liking in a more soothing setting.
  • Become a science experiment. If you donate your body to science for study, you can be cremated for free. You can even have your ashes returned to your family though it might not be instantaneous......generally within 30 days. Some of the facilities even take care of removal of the body, filing the death certificate and the cremation. There are thus no funeral home expenses at all!
  • National cemetery burial. If you are a veteran, you are entitled to be buried at a national of charge. All you have to be is an honorably discharged vet. Your spouse and any dependent children no matter what age are also entitled to a free burial at a national cemetery. Sometimes there is a fee for a spouse but it is substantially discounted. For more info on this or to find a VA cemetery in your area, check out


In short, there are many ways to save money on funeral expenses. 

No one likes to think about this ultimate event in one’s life but the reality is, it’s going to happen one of these days and why pay more than you need to? 

Isn’t it more important to spend money on living rather than on dying after all?

I believe that the final act should not burden anyone financially.  I would hate to think of my family trying to "put on" an elaborate funeral. 

To be honest, I would much rather them use the meals I have in the freezer and all the goodies and have one heck of a great dinner in my honor.....and maybe toast me as the cook of all time!

Think ahead a bit and keep some of these money-saving ideas in mind. 

There really is no need to get into debt when saying goodbye to a loved one. 

They can’t participate and I think it is much more important to concentrate on the life that they lived rather than on their death. 

Spend the money before they’re gone to honor them and don’t worry about throwing it at them when they’re gone.


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks HG-that is a great resource as well. It certainly is sad that at such a sad time, people have to worry about costs and expenses but you really can get taken. Sad commentary on society in general in my humble opinion~!

    • hurdlesgreetings profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information Akirchner!! I just wish I had this information in front of me when my friends mother passed away 4 years ago. The high cost of a loved one passing will never get smaller per say, we just have to find the ways to save where we can. is also another great option for low cost obituaries.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      LS - thanks so much for stopping by - I liked knowing there were options once I researched this more!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      9 years ago from United States

      Great hub with valuable information. What a helpful hub too for those who cannot afford the great debt of funeral costs.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a great hub - especially given the tough economic times most of us are facing. If you do research and plan ahead you can not only make things easier on those left behind but also save a ton of money. My grandmother was very clear about being cremated and went so far as to buy the urn we placed her ashes in and state as much in her will because she wanted her ashes to be returned to the ground. It made the entire situation much easier to handle in some ways as we all wanted to be sure and respect her wishes and she made them very clear what they were. I know it's not an easy subject but if you think of your family and the heartache they'll already have to deal with it puts things a little more in perspective I think.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the post! A great way to lower the costs of your funeral is to plan ahead. Take the time to compare life insurance, you'd be surprised how much you can save.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Sid~!

    • sid_candid profile image


      10 years ago

      This is another great Hub akirchner. I am impressed at your ability to produce one masterpiece after another at hubpages. Very Well done! Congrats on the win.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      LTC - That is a great idea and hope that it "pays off" there in France? Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Chin Chin - I appreciate the kudos and I agree here as well - it is just too darned expensive to die!

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 

      10 years ago from Philippines

      For a conservative country such as the Philippines, it is surprising that many are already going for cremation as an alternative to death burial. It is really getting more expensive especially the memorial lots.

      Great information in this hub. Congrats on your win.

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      10 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      I'm passionate about NOT having my hard-earned cash end up in the hands of funeral professionals, I want my son to benefit from it. To this end my husband and I have left our bodies to science. They will be used to train doctors to help the living, then, after they've finished, THEY pay for the funeral. I'm not sure that it's going to work, though, if we die in France.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks TKI - I appreciate your kudos!

    • toknowinfo profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Hub! Lots of good info, especially on a subject that that most people don't like to broach. Congratulations on your well deserved win!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Katie - You are too kind - and I agree....I would not want the big funeral either because I'd be worried something would go 'wrong' - after all, it would be Lucille Ball in the 'you know...thing'...I don't really even like to think about being in one of those! Maybe I'm claustrophobic and didn't know it!

      I definitely think money can be better spent so I'm all about the cremation way of thinking.

      Thanks so much for your vote and mostly for your great comment!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is great information and timely as we really need to look at other options. I'm going for cremation as space on our great earth is much needed. It just seems to me that change is a must when it comes to how we deal with funeral costs. I know I don't want money wasted on my death. Put me in a coffee can and do what me as you will, preferably fertilize a garden of flowers.

      Death is always an issue people don't want to talk about, thanks for this much needed conversation and congrats on your entry. I def voted for you!

      :) Katie

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      I hear ya.....crazy times, Nell, eh? I guess whatever it takes to save some dough....and thanks as always for being a pal!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      10 years ago from England

      Hi, Audrey, rent a casket? Wow, never heard of that, I am not sure if that amazed me more or the fact that you can buy caskets from amazon! seriously though I know how expensive funerals are, after having to deal with my elder relatives funerals so this is fantastic information, voted and clicked!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Laurel~! It is kinda creepy indeed.

      Loren's Gem - Thanks for stopping by and thanks so much for the kudos!

    • Loren's Gem profile image

      Loren's Gem 

      10 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      Great share! This is not an easy topic to write about - but you managed to write it very well. I'm very impressed! Rated it useful and voted it way up high! Cheers! :-)

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      10 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Beautiful job writing about such a creepy topic!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Om - I'd probably like to be a happy ghost too. Maybe I'd be a pranking ghost though and do things to other people to make who I cared about laugh! Thanks for the warm comment, Om!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      10 years ago

      This is a strange topic but you've executed it very well. I hope I can become a happy ghost after I die. I would tickle people at my funeral so they wouldn't look too sad. Congrats on the win. You rock, girl! :)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Darski - you are too kind....seems that all my 'dark side' hubs were the best....but that's okay - they're all important subjects and we need to address them as you have!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      10 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Audry I'll be darned if you didn't do it again, this is excellent and very important, I think it is a must read for everyone. I have insurance policies for my children, a living well, and all details in my will. I don't want to burdon my family with this. Rate up love & peace darski

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Purple Perl....You are too kind - thanks!!

      Pamela - Thanks so much for your kind words and I so appreciate the win.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very good hub and congratulations of your 3rd win. This is such a thorough hub on the topic that it is easy to see why it was chosen.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Esther Shamsunder 

      10 years ago from Bangalore,India

      I never tire of congratulating you! Love your hubs! This one really is useful!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Another great win! Funeral costs (boo) - I am watching members of my extended family trying to budget end of life care vs. funeral and internment costs. Lots of great information here Audrey.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Izzy - you too!!!

    • IzzyM profile image


      10 years ago from UK

      Super hub on something that will affect us all! Congrats on your well-deserved win :)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much oceansnsunsets~

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      10 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Great Hub Akirchner, and congratulations on your Staff Pick Win today! Thanks for sharing this valuable information.


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