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What’s the REAL Cost of a Funeral?

Close up of female hand on coffin with white flowers in background.

Navigating through the loss of a loved one can be one of life’s most difficult and jarring experiences. It’s only natural to think through how the end of your life will be handled and examine ways to alleviate extra difficulty for your family. So, what does a funeral actually cost and what do you need to set aside to TRULY be prepared?


According to World Population Review, the average cost of a funeral today is $8,094.30. While the expenses can vary by state, the funeral details are typically the same. We have compiled a quick list of funeral figures to reference so you can feel empowered in your funeral research journey. Here’s the breakdown:

Extra Costs to Consider

Beyond some of the basic end-of-life costs, you can take your funeral preparations to the next level. Some people choose to host a reception after a service to truly let guests reminisce and connect with each other. Others choose to stream a live feed of the funeral service itself. You could also think about a modern sendoff like releasing lanterns, butterflies or even display fireworks. There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate your life. Laying out these details in your will and planning for the expenses will help ensure everything will be carried out exactly as planned.

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Ways to Save

Okay, let’s stop here. Funerals can simply get expensive really quickly. Take a minute to decide what is most important to you. Once you have identified your wishes, you can make clearer decisions about where to invest your money and where to save.

  • Identify Priorities: Would your family value spending lots of time together, reminiscing and connecting at your celebration or life? Or would you prefer that they skip the service and viewing altogether and keep it short and sweet?
  • Cut Back: Whether it’s cutting back on the flowers, choosing burial clothing instead of purchasing or finding an independently-purchased casket, there are plenty of ways to save on funeral costs. One common way people are saving is by choosing cremation over burial. This reduces embalming, casket and viewing costs. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) in 2022, the cremation rate was 59.3% and the burial rate was 35.7%.
  • Weigh Environmental Alternatives: Another way to save is by choosing a “green” burial. The NFDA reported 60% of people are interested in green burials due to their environmental benefits. A green burial requires remains to be placed in a biodegradable casket without the use of embalming chemicals or cremation. The cost of a green burial casket is $1,500 versus $2,500 of a standard burial.
  • Gather Options: Lastly, be sure to shop around. Gather some information from multiple funeral homes and cemeteries to truly get the best quality service and costs.

Ways to Pay

  • Pre-paid funeral: Many funeral homes have “pre-need” plans you can use to prepare for your funeral. This is one way to make sure your funeral expenses will be paid. However, there are some downsides. For example, 9 out of 10 funeral homes are locally-owned, so there aren’t many prepaid plans that would transfer to another location. There is also inflation to take into account. The cost of a funeral may increase significantly from the time you purchase your plan, leaving your family with unpaid expenses.
  • CD or Savings: Saving for your funeral the old-fashioned way is another option. Putting money aside in a savings account or CD is a simple way to have designated funds for your funeral. You may need to wait for the case to go through probate court before you have access to these funds, so that is something to keep in mind. Adding a family member to the account is a great way to avoid this problem.
  • Life Insurance: Life insurance is one of the most effective ways to plan for funeral expenses. It is a good way to prepare because beneficiaries can directly use the death payout for funeral costs. Consider talking to an insurance expert to evaluate your life insurance benefits in your funeral research journey. Not sure what a beneficiary is? Click here to read our blog, What’s a Beneficiary? Learn the Process and How it Works. And what if your beneficiary is on Medicaid? Read our blog, Is Your Beneficiary on Medicaid? Learn What it Means for Inheritance

Thinking through your funeral preparations is an act of great love. You’ve taken a huge step in taking care of your family in the future. Now that you have a grasp on the cost of a funeral, think about discussing your end-of-life plans with your family so everyone is on the same page. The topic of funeral discussions can be tricky to navigate, but finalizing an end-of-life plan early on can have immeasurable benefits.

Want to learn more? Check out our blog Finances and the Death of your Spouse: 14 Things to Do Now

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Colonial Penn is a private company that is not Medicare, Medicaid or MaineCare and is not a governmental agency

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