Money-saving sites and newsletters, such as Money Crashers, are always stuffed with tips for saving on weddings, but you almost never see any for funerals. In fact, the very idea seems almost shocking. People seem to feel as if when a loved one has just died, it's heartless even to be thinking about money. But unfortunately, not thinking about it has a serious cost—about $11,000 for a typical funeral in the US. (And that's just for the service, not including any gathering you might have afterward at home.)
I don't know about you, but when I go, I don't want $11,000 of the money I've left to my heirs being spent just to put what's left of me into the ground. Yes, I want the people who remember me to gather together and share those memories, but that doesn't cost anything. It's the fancy caskets and tombstones that cost the big bucks. At least there's some sense in paying for a nice tombstone if you're going to be looking at it every time you visit the grave, but why spend thousands on a coffin that's just going to get covered up with dirt?
For anyone else who would rather, when the time comes, have a funeral that's truly meaningful than one that's impressive, I've covered this topic in detail in my latest Money Crashers post. I talk about your rights when dealing with funeral homes (and your almost total lack of any when dealing with cemeteries), how to compare prices, the value of pre-planning (so you can do your thinking about money at a time when you're not completely overwhelmed by grief), and some money-saving alternatives like cremation, direct burial, and donating your remains to medical science. I also discuss the home funeral, which is far more traditional than the "traditional" funeral of today: the body is simply "laid out" at home for visitors, and the family stays with the deceased until the end. (I noted in my original draft that many people who have done this say that tending personally to the bodies of their beloved dead gives them a greater sense of closure, but the editor cut this out for some reason.)
The writing in parts of this may seem overly formal and unlike my usual style; that, too, was the editor's decision. But there's useful information in it, all the same. Here's the full article: How to Deal With Funeral Costs – Planning Guide & Checklist