How to Plan An Affordable Yet Respectful Funeral

Planning a funeral is a stressful thing to do—especially since it always comes at an unexpected time. You want to be respectful, but you don't want to spend unnecessary money on funeral expenses. According to National Funeral Directors Association, the average funeral in the United States costs around $7,045. However, there are many things you can do to keep the cost of your friend or family member's end of life ceremony from breaking the budget.

1. Opt for direct cremation. One of the best things you can do to reduce the cost of a person's funeral is to choose direct cremation rather than having their remains embalmed and buried in a cemetery plot. With cremation, you save not only the embalming and related expenses, but you don't have to pay for a cemetery plot or a headstone. Cremation is also kinder to the environment as it doesn't require a large plot of land to be set aside to house your friend's or family member's remains.

2. Skip the fancy coffin. The coffin is the single largest expense in most funerals. Coffins cost anywhere from $995 to $30,000 or more. However, if you opt for direct cremation, you may not need a coffin at all. With cremation, you can use a reinforced cardboard container or even a specially-designed canvas bag.

3. Host a memorial service at your church or favorite park. Funeral homes such as Sturtevant Funeral Home charge a fee for the using their facilities for the funeral or memorial service. However, the cost might include other services or things that cost money in a funeral. Talk to them about their pricing. If you would rather save more money, consider talking to owners of local churches. While it's customary to offer the church a donation for using their sanctuary, there is rarely a set fee.

If you're not a church-goer, you might consider having the ceremony at an outdoor setting that was special to the deceased, like a park or a beach. Most such facilities will allow you to use the site for free.

4. Do your own flowers. Flowers are a traditional part of any funeral service. However, florists charge high prices for floral blankets and arrangements, especially if you order flowers that are not native to your part of the country or are out of season. Instead, consider making your own floral arrangements, either from flowers out of your own garden or by purchasing loose flowers from a farm market and making your own arrangements. You'll not only save money, but you'll be adding a personal touch to the event. 

While planning an end of life service can be stressful, you don't have to resign yourself to spending a lot of money on the arrangements.