Reducing the cost of funeral expenses is not typically a conversation many people have because it almost seems disrespectful to the one you are burying. Unfortunately, oftentimes it is necessary to talk about such unpleasantries. Those left to bury their loved ones have much to think about including the items to choose for the wake and funeral. Sadly, for many families the cost of the funeral is simply out of reach and many go into debt in order to pay for the viewing and burial. Although, you may not want to talk about it or think about it, there are ways to reduce the costs without depriving the loved one of a proper funeral.

 Shop Around

Comparison shopping between funeral homes may seem bad mannered or impolite to the dead, but in reality, you are doing the best you can. Don’t feel embarrassed by the questions, ask away. According to the law, funeral homes must provide you with an itemized list of costs. Many people don’t know you can inquire about the cost of the casket, find the one that fits your budget and use the casket at any funeral home. You do not have to buy the casket from the funeral home where the viewing will be held. After receiving the itemized list, go through it line by line and decide what you want and can afford and choose from there. You care not being disrespectful by cutting the costs on the funeral, you are doing the best you can under the circumstances.


Funeral directors embalm bodies and would lead you to believe it is a necessary step. However, embalming is not always necessary. Another fallacy funeral directors perpetrate is embalming preserves the body. Embalming does not preserve the body, it slightly slows down the body’s natural decomposition process. Embalming is necessary under only a few circumstances including if the body has to be sent across state lines. Other than a very few reasons – embalming is not required according to the law.

Professional Hair and Make-Up

Professionally coiffed hair and heavy make-up oftentimes does not show your loved one as they were in life. The make-up artists and beauticians don’t know your friend or relative and end up putting their twist on the hair and make up leaving many to say “wow, that didn’t even look like so and so” – how many times have you heard that? You do not have to have the make-up and hair professionally done. Typically professional make-up artists and hair stylists charge a minimum of $750. The costs can be much higher depending on the area in which you live.


You see it all the time in the obituaries – “in lieu of flower please donate to xxxx” – you can add that to the obituary and ask those attending to donate the money they would have spent on flowers to the funeral home to help defray the cost of the funeral. Many funeral homes will help the family or friends set up and word this arrangement. Flowers are very expensive and really not necessary for a proper mourning.

 More About Caskets

The price of the casket can run into the thousands. Some are very ornate with expensive fabrics lining the inside. It is not discourteous to the deceased to choose a less expensive casket. All caskets perform the same – they all offer protection to the body. Many funeral directors will show you the most costly caskets and make you feel as if the more you spend the more you loved the person. It is not true. The only difference between the expensive caskets and the less expensive is the outer finish, metals used and fabric lining. As morbid as it may sound – you can buy a casket online and save a lot of money. Online casket purchases can save you up to 80 percent. Many companies offer expedited shipping.

Viewing Hours

In order to accept the death of a family member or loved one is seeing the body, which is usually done in the form of a wake. Each session of the wake has a cost. Having one session, typically at night, is all that is really necessary. You do not have to prolong the viewing to two sessions per day over the course of two, three or four days – one viewing is enough to give viewers time to accept the death. If you are waiting for out of town friends or relatives to attend, wait a day or two to have the viewing rather than conducting a wake for those days.

 Burial Plots and Mausoleums

Call several cemeteries to inquire about the cost of the plot or mausoleum. Of course you want your loved ones final resting place to be appropriate and peaceful, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Typically, burials are much less expensive than a mausoleum internment. Again, choosing what you can afford doesn’t show how much you loved the person, it shows you are caring enough to provide a proper funeral.


If the concept of cremation isn’t against your religious beliefs or your personal beliefs, consider cremating the body. Usually, cremation is the least expensive option. Again, it is not disrespectful to the deceased to choose cremation as long as in your heart, you are at peace.


Renting the limousine and chauffer is expensive. Most times the limousine and driver is used because the close friends and family member are too upset and distracted to be behind the wheel of a car. If this is the case, ask a friend to drive you or ride with someone along the funeral procession.

Headstones and Tombstones

 The headstone does not have to be overly large or ornate. A small headstone with the loved one name, date of birth and death is all the information required. Call several monument engravers to shop around for the best price. Remember – the larger the headstone or tombstone does not show how much you loved the person.

Other Help with Funeral Costs

Contact your local church and ask for help.

Contact the deceased’s local church for help.

 Ask the funeral director for a list of local charities that will help cover the cost of a funeral.