The Ultimate Funeral Savings Guide: Everything You Must Know 

| 8 min read Fundraising Strategy

When a loved one passes away and you’re overcome with grief, it can be difficult to even think about planning a funeral. And the added stress of unexpected funeral costs doesn’t help, especially when these costs stretch your budget. Fortunately, there are resources available to you and your family. Use this funeral savings guide to help you honor your loved one without bringing on financial stress.

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How expensive is a funeral? 

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a traditional funeral in 2017 was $7,360. For a funeral with a viewing and cremation, the median cost was $6,260. The cost of funeral services can differ based on the type of services requested, the funeral home and cemetery you choose, and the type of casket or urn.However, all of these costs can be negotiated—if you take the right steps.

How to save money with the Funeral Rule

The Funeral Rule by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is designed to protect consumers when making funeral arrangements. The Funeral Rule allows you to keep your information private while comparison shopping, and applies whether you are planning a funeral after the loss of a loved or planning for the future. You also have a right to all of the following:

Ask for price quotes on the telephone

Funeral directors are required to give customers price information on the telephone if they request it, and customers do not have to provide their name, address, or telephone number.

Pay only for the funeral-related goods and services you want

You are under no obligation to purchase a package for funeral-related goods and services, and have the right to purchase items separately. For example, you don’t need to buy a casket from the funeral home if you don’t want to—you can purchase it online instead.

Get a written, itemized price list

If you visit a funeral home, ask them for a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep. And if casket prices are not included in this list—ask for them. Many funeral homes maintain separate price lists for caskets and urns, which can include lower-priced options that are not always on display. 

Get a detailed funeral quote

Once you have decided what you need, get a written statement before you pay. It should show exactly what you are buying in detail, including an itemized cost of all goods and services. 

Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn

The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else—or charge you a fee to do so. The funeral home must also offer and honor alternative caskets, such as those made from unfinished wood.

Make funeral arrangements without embalming

No state law requires routine embalming for every death. Some states require embalming or refrigeration if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time, though some states don’t require it at all. Some funeral homes have a policy of embalming before a public viewing, though this is not required if the viewing is private and for family only.  

How to lower funeral costs

In addition to consumer protection offered by the Funeral Rule, there are a few other ways you can ensure low funeral costs and ease the financial burden on you and your family. 

Avoid taking on debt

Consider all of your options, like starting a memorial fundraiser, before using a credit card or taking out a cash advance. Avoid high-interest personal loans, as these are typically difficult to pay back and can negatively affect your credit.

Compare prices from two funeral homes

Asking for a second opinion can save you money. We know how stressful these situations can be, and we know that every little bit helps. Compare funeral costs from at least two funeral homes, and you could save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. 

Get a good faith estimate

If the funeral provider doesn’t immediately know the cost of certain items or services, he or she is required to give you a written “good faith estimate.” This statement also must disclose any legal cemetery or crematory requirements that may require you to purchase specific funeral goods or services.

Don’t overspend

Resist pressure to buy goods and services that you don’t really want or need, even if they seem attractive at the time. While we know planning a funeral is challenging, remember you are under no obligation to overspend—take your time, and make the best decision for yourself and your family.

Government help for funerals

In addition to organizations that help with funeral expenses, the federal government also offers some financial relief for those grieving. If you need assistance with funeral or memorial costs but don’t know where to start, you may be eligible for help from these government agencies.

Social Security Administration

For best results, visit your local Social Security Administration office and discuss your situation. If your deceased loved one has created a burial fund, you can put the money toward the costs. The surviving spouse, or the children of the deceased, may also be eligible for a death payment which can be applied to funeral or memorial costs.

Veteran Memorial Benefits

If your loved one was a veteran, make sure to check with the Veterans Affairs. Veterans have special benefits and burial allowances that can be a great financial resource. The VA burial allowance is a benefit you will definitely want to look into, since the VA is required to pay the maximum amount eligible for memorial or funeral costs.

Fundraising for funeral and memorial costs

Unfortunately, paying for a funeral can be a challenge for many. You may be wondering, how do you pay for a funeral with no money? Your close friends and family can help share the burden of these costs through the power of crowdfunding. Through online fundraisers e, starting a memorial or funeral fundraiser is fast, easy, and a beautiful way to celebrate the life of a loved one. The following funeral and memorial fundraising tips will help you honor your loved one and pay tribute to their life and memory.

  • If you’re wondering how to get help with funeral costs for a parent, make sure to tell their story with fundraising images. Fundraisers with at least five photos raise more money than those with just one.
  • Through your fundraiser, you can also help someone who is grieving. A memorial fundraiser is a safe space for loved ones to gather and offer their support and condolences.
  • If you have already written an obituary, include a link to it as a fundraiser update. This can help keep donors in the loop, and remind them that their donation makes a difference. 
  • While difficult, if you are planning your own funeral and need help raising money for burial expenses, consider building a fundraising team of close friends or family to help and provide extra support. 

Funeral fundraiser examples

Take a look at the examples below of how others are using GoFundMe to help raise money for funeral and memorial costs. And if you’re wondering how to ask for donations for funeral expenses, one of our email templates can help. 

Victoria & Ava Ericks Scholarship

When Christian Ericks, age 46, unexpectedly passed away, his friend Marsha stepped up to help establish the Victoria & Ava Ericks Scholarship Fund. Chris’s two beautiful daughters were the pride and joy of his life. Due to unforeseen circumstances and the untimely death of Chris, there was no support or college fund for his daughters. By banding together, friends, family, and coworkers were able to raise over $8,000 in one month.

Sterling Jr.’s Homegoing Services

Sterling was only 3 years old when he passed away. Everyone who knew Sterling knew he was always thrilled to go to school each day. He was full of life and made his presence known in any room he entered. As the organizer, Jennifer knew she could make a difference, so she started a fundraiser for the family. They set a goal of $15,000, and in one month, they raised over $18,000 for his services and to help the family.

Offset funeral costs through crowdfunding

Losing a loved one is never an easy time, and no one should have to endure the added stress of struggling to pay for high funeral costs. Through fundraising, you can quickly raise the money you need so you can pay attention to what matters most: spending time with your loved ones during the grieving process. Sign up today and start a funeral or memorial fundraiser, so you can stop worrying about high costs and focus on healing.  

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Written by GoFundMe