I recently had a conversation with a friend about the various costs associated with her relative’s funeral. Having never had to organize or pay for a funeral myself, I was shocked to learn just how many fees were involved. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to minimize burial expenses.
1. Get Insurance in Advance
If you’re able to plan ahead then the best way to minimize burial expenses is to get the proper insurance in place ahead of time. This includes life insurance as well as burial insurance. Talk to your parents, in-laws, and spouse about the types of insurance everyone has and needs. Even if you find yourself in the position of paying for an unexpected funeral, you can minimize burial expenses in the future by addressing this issue with other family members before it’s too late.
2. Skip the Burial, Donate the Body
You can donate a loved one’s body to medical schools instead of burying them. If this in line with your personal values and beliefs (as well as those of the deceased) then it can be the most effective way to minimize burial expenses. After all, you typically don’t have to pay anything at all. Plus, you’re doing a good thing by allowing your loved one to advance medicine after their life has come to an end.
3. Skip the Casket, Opt for Wood
One of the big choices that you’re asked to make when planning a burial is which casket you want. Some funeral homes will try to upsell you on the best (most expensive) casket. However, did you know that there’s no requirement that you have a casket for burial? You almost certainly don’t need one if you’re opting for cremation. So consider skipping the casket all together. Choose a wooden box. It’s the ceremony and the message and the grief and the family coming together that matters – not the box the person is buried in.
4. Skip Embalming and Gasketed Caskets
Most states don’t require embalming of the body. If you’re having a burial quickly after the death, you don’t need it. Ask the funeral home to refrigerate the body in lieu of expensive embalming.
Similarly, you don’t need to buy special equipment to “protect” the body from the elements. For example, minimize burial expenses by hundreds of dollars by refusing the gasketed casket option.
5. Get Someone To Help You Make Decisions
More than anything else, what I took away from my conversation with my friend was how hard it was to make all of the decisions associated with a funeral. She was in shock from the death and beginning to grieve. She wasn’t in the right mental space to make big financial decisions. And yet, that’s exactly what a funeral and burial requires.
Therefore, one overlooked but critical way to minimize burial expenses is to get someone you love and trust to assist you in making those decisions. It helps if you have conversations in advance about the types of things you’re concerned about. If you have someone who can remind you of your budget and your desires during this difficult time, then you’ll make better decisions. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.
- It’s Time to Speak with Your Parents about Burial Insurance
- Do You Have Life Insurance?
- Finding the Best Family Insurance
Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer with more than a decade of experience writing about healthy living and personal finance. She lives in San Francisco, where she has learned to maximize frugal living tips in order to thrive as a freelancer in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the city on foot with her rescue dog. Learn more about her at www.kathrynvercillo.com. Kathryn also writes about saving money with coupons over at GroceryCouponGuide.com .