Lowering the cost of a funeral: How much should you pay for a funeral in 2018?

Funerals today are expensive.  The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recently reported that the average price for a funeral in 2017 was $8,755.  This included a burial vault but no cemetery fees.  So, it is fair to say that the total cost of the average funeral service, when adding a cemetery plot is likely to cost in excess of $10,000.

Now, not many folks have $10,000 available to pay for a funeral these days, especially if the deceased had not made a funeral plan or had no life insurance.

So, what options do you have to lower funeral costs?

Find a lower-priced funeral services provider

low cost cremationFuneral prices can vary tremendously, depending on the funeral home, and the type of funeral service selected.  It is important to compare funeral prices from a funeral home’s General Price List (GPL) or Funeral Service Packages, before deciding.  You will find that even the same funeral package service can range in price between different funeral service locations.

Typically, corporate funeral companies and full-service funeral locations with high overhead have higher funeral pricing.  If they have share-holders, expansive premises to up-keep and a large fleet of vehicles, they need to charge funeral fees commensurate with maintaining a certain revenue.

Often smaller, family owned and operated funeral homes can afford to offer funeral service packages at a lower cost.  There are independent funeral locations that are very focused on their role in their community, and in offering affordable funeral packages.

All funeral service providers are required by FTC legislation to disclose pricing from their GPL when a consumer makes an inquiry about funeral costs either online, by phone or in person.  This is known as the ‘funeral rule’ but despite this legislation being in place to protect funeral consumers, many funeral locations still will not openly disclose prices.  Some funeral home websites will include pricing information or have a copy of their GPL for you to download.  However, there are still far too many funeral home websites that disclose nothing about their prices.  And many funeral homes seem unable to openly disclose funeral prices by phone either, especially when their objective is to get you in person into their funeral establishment to better complete a ‘sale’.

So, choose a few funeral homes and call around and compare funeral prices. If they will not openly discuss pricing, then that is probably an alarm bell.

If you locate a lower-priced funeral services provider, he or she will generally be very happy to discuss pricing with you.

Eliminate some of the more expensive funeral services and products

Everything adds up for a traditional funeral service.  The funeral director’s basic service fee may not seem too expensive, but then everything becomes itemized.  A few funeral products can really hike up your overall bill.  It can seem overwhelming when you have to make so many decisions about the funeral, choosing a casket, memorial pamphlets, whether to hold a visitation, for how long, what type of funeral service to hold, how many funeral vehicles are required.  This is also how your overall funeral bill can expand, and having to make all these decisions when you are feeling distressed can mean you do not make the best decisions!

Consider choosing cremation instead of burial

Cremation now accounts for almost 54% of dispositions in the U.S.  It has overtaken burial as the preferred funeral option for Americans.  One of the main reasons why Americans are now choosing cremation is cost.  Choosing a cremation service can provide a much lower-priced funeral alternative to burial.

As I have mentioned, eliminating some of the main costs associated with a burial can have a big impact on the funeral price.   Opting for a cremation means that these services and products are not required anyway.

Cremation can eliminate the need for embalming, a casket, a burial vault and a cemetery plot.  On the whole, a cremation service can cost at least half the cost of a burial service.

Lowest-price funeral option: Choose direct cremation

How to save money on a funeralIf you need to trim the cost of a funeral down as much as possible due to very limited resources, then a direct cremation is the least expensive cremation option.

A direct cremation is where the funeral home or crematory only handle the cremation of the deceased and then return the remains to the family.  It is also called a cremation without ceremony, or a simple cremation.

A direct cremation can take care of the immediate need to conduct a dignified disposition of the body at an affordable cost.  The price of a direct cremation varies between funeral service providers, but it is possible (in most metro areas) to arrange a direct cremation for between $795 and $1,495 with a funeral home that offers affordable options.  However, do be mindful that some funeral homes still charge in the region of $2,000 to $3,000 for a direct cremation.  Again, it is important to check the cremation pricing from more than one provider.

If you need immediate assistance, and do not want to make numerous phone calls to cremation providers, DFS Memorials has undertaken this task.  Our aim was to be able to connect you with an independent affordable direct cremation provider near you.  Use the state links to on this page to find your state and city and locate a provider near you and their price for a direct cremation service.

5 Reasons that Families are now choosing Cremation

Cremation has overtaken burial as the American ‘preferred’ option for death-care.  In 2018, it is forecast that 53% of Americans will opt for cremation over burial.  The cremation rate is increasing year-on-year exponentially, and forecast to reach almost 80% over the next 17 years.

Why is cremation becoming the preferred choice for families?

Funeral & Cremation Trends 2018#1 The cost of cremation vs. burial

Choosing cremation instead of burial is likely to reduce a funeral bill by half, if not two-thirds.  Whereas a typical burial funeral will cost a family between $8,000 – $15,000, a cremation funeral cost in the region of $3,000 – $8,000.  This all depends upon the funeral products and services selected.  However, without question, cremation is cheaper.  There is no requirement for a casket, burial vault or cemetery plot, and embalming of the deceased.  All of which add thousands of dollars to a funeral bill.

#2 Interest in more environmentally-friendly alternatives

Some families see cremation as a friendlier alternative to a traditional burial, where embalming fluids, concrete and steel are deposited into the earth.  Gas & omissions are still an environmental concern, but less so, especially with the newer cremation machines that cremate faster and use less gas.  In some cases, families are seeking out greener alternatives, such as burying ashes in a tree pod.

#3 Families are more dispersed

People have moved around so much more today and families are often dispersed across states, or even countries.  This can make it so much more difficult to coordinate a funeral burial service and bring people together at short notice.  Families are not so tied to the notion of a family burial plot if relatives have moved away, and the notion of it being a memorial site to visit is not of the same significance if families live far away.

Cremation Memorial Services#4 The ‘unconventional’ and personalization are key aspects of funeral tributes & memorialization

Cremation is gaining acceptance, and even popularity, as we all become more accepting of the unconventional.  We are moving into a new era where traditional values are not held in as high esteem.  New ‘norms’ are being embraced…. and being, or doing, the unconventional is popularized.

We have seen examples of this emerging within funeral services, as families opt for non-traditional services, and lean towards services as life celebration events.

Today, we seek personalization in our everyday lives, so why not take this ‘to the grave’…..so to speak!  Cremation offers much more versatility in what kind of memorial services can be held, ……when, where and how.

Even the options of personalizing artifacts with cremated remains is becoming a new industry, with a whole plethora of creative ways to design cremation tributes and scatter ashes.

#5 We need more flexibility in arranging funeral services

Cremation offers much more flexibility in arranging a funeral.  Firstly, it can enable an immediate disposition of the deceased without the immediate need to arrange a funeral service.  One of the hardest things when unexpectedly faced with arranging a funeral service, is the need to make so many decisions quickly.  Often families can find this so overwhelming, and later regret that they didn’t have more time to think through the choices they made.

Choosing a cremation can help remove that immediate need to make decisions about holding a funeral service and what to do to memorialize the remains.  A cremation memorial service is where the cremation is conducted first, and then a memorial service held afterwards.  Of course, with a cremation, there is no ‘rush’ to hold the funeral (or memorial) service immediately.  This can allow time for families to reflect on exactly what kind of memorial service to conduct.  With time to prepare and grieve, families can then find that a memorial service held later is much more meaningful and up-lifting.  It can provide time for families to plan to get together, especially if family are dispersed.

Considering these key reasons why families choose cremation can help us to understand why the cremation rate is increasing.  Cremation offers an affordable, flexible, environmentally-friendly and personalized option to approach death-care.

Why do people choose cremation?

Cremation is taking the death care industry in the USA by storm!  From a nation once entrenched in the tradition of burial, within a decade our nation has shifted to prefer cremation, with the cremation rate overtaking the burial rate this year.

So why are families now opting for cremation instead of burial?

The most popular reason is driven by the consumer demand for more affordable funeral services.  Since the economic downturn of 2008 more and more families simply cannot afford the cost of a full-service funeral.

According the NFDA a typical burial costs $7,045 (and this is without the cemetery costs).  Many families today living paycheck to paycheck cannot afford this cost, especially if no provision or life insurance was in place.

Thus the demand for cheaper alternatives has grown, and cremation can save thousands on the cost of a funeral.

Direct cremation costs even less than a memorial cremation service, and in most metro areas in the US a direct cremation can be arranged for between $600 and $1000 complete.

Check out this infographic gives a useful overview of why people are choosing cremation.


The eroding tradition of funerals – Is cremation the new vogue?

We are at an interesting time in culture and society.  The industrial revolution changed culture fundamentally, just as the “information revolution” is still redefining culture as we know it today.  We see this impacting upon the funeral industry as it attempts to understand what these changes mean to it.

Firstly I see more funeral homes coming online with a website, something that many resisted when the Internet first started impacting on us as consumers.  The progressive funeral homes are even actively positioning themselves within the social media platforms, in attempts to communicate their ‘brand’ and the value of their services.

But fundamentally the tradition of funerals is changing, and this is where the essence of a revolution is based.  The “information revolution” has enabled the general public to become much more informed about their death care choices.  This recent article discussing the high cremation rate in Maine, encapsulates how our attitudes towards the rituals in our lives, is shifting how we regard the ritual and traditions surrounding funerals.

In discussing this changing culture Peter Neal, a funeral director and member of the Maine Funeral Directors Association, says “Fifty years ago, everyone went to church, everyone had a big wedding, no one moved in before marriage, and no one got divorced. Now, all those traditions have eroded a little. Funerals are no different.”

It is true.  Funerals are not necessarily somber, black-colored, wailing widow events these days.  Many of those that ARE choosing to have a service or ceremony are opting for the more uplifting life celebration type of ritual.  So yes, traditions are eroding, but in some way they are being replaced with new traditions.  Cremation is the most significant change in the funeral tradition.  The national rate in the U.S. is now at 41% and rising fast.  The choice of cremation has created a whole new tradition of ash scattering.  Dove, butterfly and balloon releasing are becoming a feature of memorial services, just as they had become a part of life celebration events like weddings.

The great bonus to the average individual is that a simple cremation costs much less than a traditional funeral service.  It puts control of the ritual back into the domain of the family as opposed to the funeral director.  A family can arrange a direct cremation for less than $1,395 and then perform their own memorial service or ash scattering.  A traditional funeral costs on average $7,300.  Whether people don’t have the money, or simply don’t want to waste money, the cremation option certainly saves a family money and at the same time empowers them to feel in control of the ritual.

As the cremation rate continues to grow, I am sure that we will see the percentage of direct cremations increase also.  Several funeral homes we have spoken with already report that over 30% of their cremations are direct cremations.  DFS Memorials believes that every American should have the choice to select their own death care ritual.  As a consumer society, we have become very adept at making our consumer choices and seeking out best-value deals.  Why should our funeral purchases be any different?  Tradition is defined as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation”. The Baby Boomer generation has rebelliously reshaped customs and rituals throughout their lives, and now they have reached their retirement years, they are challenging the inherited way of regarding funeral care.  Yes, I think this is likely to erode the custom of the ‘traditional funeral’ but at the same time it will mark an epoch change in the culture of death care.

So is cremation the new vogue?  How do you feel about what kind of funeral you want?