How to Plan a Funeral on a Budget


    A lantern specializes in pre-planning and post-bereavement services, providing guidance and support in navigating life before and after death. For eligible Haven Term policyholders, full pre-plan premium membership and personalized post-loss advisory services are available free of charge through the Haven Life Plus rider, a suite of bonus services. Learn more here.

    Disclaimer: Funeral, cremation and burial are regulated by individual states and laws vary. Check with your funeral home or cremation service before making plans.

    When a loved one dies, there are many reasons you can reduce expenses. For example, you may not know the state of your loved one’s finances or the legacy they left behind. (For example, did the person have term life insurance policywith a payout that can be used for funeral expenses as well many, many other things.) Or you may know the state of your finances and realize that you cannot afford to overspend on a funeral. Or maybe you just don’t want to commit to an expensive funeral and then regret it when the bills come.

    If so, you are not alone in worrying about money during immediate stages of grief— as the cost of a funeral in America rises, families are now spending more than $10,000 on even simple funerals.

    Saving money for a funeral can be a daunting task – you want to give your loved one the way they deserve, and you may find it hard to pinch pennies. But that doesn’t mean you have to mortgage your home, or there are things you can do in the meantime the funeral planning process to ease the strain on your bank account. We asked at end-of-life planning experts to Lantern for advice. Here’s what they told us.

    In this article:

    Know your rights

    The Federal Trade Commission requires all funeral homes keep an updated master price list on file and make it available to consumers upon request. Many funeral homes also post their main price list online. Study the list carefully and don’t be discouraged from buying. While you may not end up choosing the cheapest option, it’s worth understanding how much different funeral homes charge for similar services.

    Bring your own materials

    One thing the FTC makes very clear is that funeral homes are not allowed to charge you extra for using a casket or urn that you purchased elsewhere. As long as it meets the requirements of your graveyard, you are allowed to use it. Considering the markup on caskets, this is a great place to save money. Costco, for example, sells caskets for a fraction of the cost of funeral homes. (We know it’s Costco, but resist the urge to buy in bulk.)

    If you choose cremation, your options are even wider – any container that safely holds cremains will work.

    Choose direct burial or cremation

    Apart from being better options for the environment, direct burial and cremation are also much less expensive than funerals and burial ceremonies that involve embalming the body. Note: Direct burial is different from choosing simple burial. A live funeral means that the funeral director conducts the funeral without the family present.

    Don’t be afraid to customize

    When working with a funeral home, you may find that you don’t need all the bells and whistles they offer. One place where it often makes sense to consider saving is in viewings – many funeral homes offer four hours, while it may only make sense to have two.

    Stay close to home

    Rather than an expensive event after the funeral at a restaurant or event space, consider hosting a meeting at home. You’ll save on food and drink, especially if you ask guests to bring a dish or bottle of wine to share. If you don’t feel good asking, remember – people want to help and in many cases will be grateful that you include them.

    Don’t pay for flowers

    Even if you don’t have any funerals at all, or explicitly tell people not to send flowers, or send everyone you know links to your loved one’s favorite charity, the fact is that some people won’t be able to stop themselves from sending a flower or plant. Take advantage of this! If someone wants to send flowers, include them in the funeral arrangement and bring them with you to the cemetery. You have no reason to spend money on something that so many other people will be willing to give you.

    Our editorial policy

    Haven Life is a customer-focused life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that making decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being can be very simple.

    Our editorial policy

    Haven Life is a customer-focused life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that making decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being can be very simple.

    Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they fit your situation.

    Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon as, tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are advised to seek advice from their own tax or legal advisor.

    Our disclosures

    Haven Term is a term life insurance policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in some states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In New York, Term Haven is DTC-NY 1017. In California, Term Haven is DTC-CA 042017. Simplified Term Haven is a simplified term life insurance policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in some states, including NC) issued CM Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy numbers and specifications and rider forms may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our California agency license number is OK71922 and our Arkansas license number is 100139527.

    Best AM Company rates MassMutual as A++ (superior; highest category out of 15). Rating as of April 1, 2020 and subject to change. MassMutual has received various ratings from other rating agencies.

    Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider included in the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits for free or at a discount. Rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual is responsible for the provision of benefits and services available under the Plus Rider provided by third-party providers (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

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