Next to buying a house and a car, a funeral ranks among the most expensive purchase that many consumers will ever make. While cremation offers a significantly lower-cost alternative to traditional funerals, there are a few smart things you can do to keep those cremation costs even lower.
Decide What Kind of Cremation You Want
If you have decided on cremation as a more affordable alternative to burial, then it’s good to know that there are various options for cremation services. A cremation with a funeral service beforehand will still cost between $2,000 to $10,000. A memorial service following a cremation with the ashes stored in a cremation urn will cost less, and a direct cremation with no ceremony or services is the most inexpensive cremation option of them all.
Consider Direct Cremation
- Direct cremation is the simplest form of cremation and is the fastest growing choice for American families because it’s both more affordable and simpler to arrange. Direct cremation will often cost hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars.
- Direct cremation does not include a formal funeral or any pre-funeral events, and so avoids many of the traditional funeral costs. The body is cremated immediately after death, which means you can engage the services of a direct cremation provider rather than having to coordinate everything through a funeral home, which allows for significant savings.
- There is no viewing, visitation, or wake before the cremation, which eliminates the need for embalming or other body preparations. Instead, the body will typically get cremated in a simple container, rather than a casket. A memorial service may be held later, which eliminates the need for an expensive casket and funeral arrangements.
Do Your Homework
- While cremation is a low-cost alternative to a traditional burial, it’s good to understand the options as the costs can vary depending on where you live and what option you choose.
- Costs vary by state, by city, and by the provider. In the northeast states, cremation tends to be more expensive, along with very rural and lower population states. The west coast has a much higher cremation rate, and therefore, costs are generally lower.
Shop Around and Compare Cremation Costs
- Shopping around and comparing prices is an underestimated part of arranging a cremation. Many people don’t realize that costs can vary thousands of dollars between two funeral homes in the same city.
- Ask for a price list or choose a direct cremation provider or funeral home that will be transparent about their pricing from the beginning.
- Be wary of promotional pricing because sometimes the actual price may end up being different than the originally advertised price.
- For a direct cremation, make sure the quote is comprehensive and includes the following:
- Collection of your loved one
- Filing of paperwork and permits
- The cremation container
- The cremation itself
- An ashes container
- Return of the ashes
There are also incremental fees to be aware of when researching cremation cost:
- Coroner fee – can be charged by the day and so this can get costly if not careful
- Death certificates – the number of copies required will depend on how extensive the estate left behind is
- Non-standard collection – if someone passes at home (as opposed to the hospital) or is considered heavy, more staff will be needed for collection
- Pacemaker – pacemakers must get removed for a safe cremation
- Storage of ashes – if you want to store the ashes, you’ll need to purchase an urn
Hold an Alternative Memorial Service
- If you arrange a memorial service through a church or a funeral home, it’s going to be one of your highest costs.
- Think about alternatives that you can coordinate yourself, such as a picnic, a hike, or a dinner party, all of which can still be special but for a much lower cost.
Buy a Cremation Urn Online
- Cremation urns are another area where you can save money by shopping online.
- You are likely to find a wider selection and a lower price than if you buy through a funeral home direct.
Plan Cremation Ahead
- While not always top of mind while you are young, fit, and healthy, making your cremation plans ahead of time can translate to savings.
- You can lock in the price plus take advantage of any promotional or low-cost financing offers.
- Not to mention, you will be removing the burden from your family of fulfilling your wishes during an emotional time.
Select a Green Cemetery
- A green cemetery will likely not require an outer burial container or vault for the ashes, and so you’ll save money by not having to purchase one.
- Green cemeteries are opening all over the US as the demand increases for a cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative to traditional burials.
Avoid Pushy Funeral Directors
- Steer clear of aggressive funeral directors trying to sell you a package.
- There could be extraneous items in the package that you do not want or need.
- Instead, create a custom package by selecting only the things you want.
Donate to Science
- Several non-profit charities accept anatomical gifts in the name of scientific research and to help in the advancement of medical technology, training, and education.
- In addition to the significant benefits that body donation provides to the medical community, the charities will also cover many of the costs associated with the end of life.
And so the final takeaway, is that if you want to save money on cremation costs, do your due diligence, compare prices, purchase cremation merchandise online, plan an alternative memorial service; and to really save, in fact with potentially zero cost—consider donating your (or your loved one’s) body to science.
Smart Cremation is your dignified alternative to a traditional funeral home. Providing cremation services in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, and Arizona, we offer transparent, simple, and affordable direct cremations offered by professional, knowledgeable, and compassionate staff. Whether you have had a death in the family or are planning ahead, Smart Cremation is your smart choice for cremation planning.