It's common to feel overwhelmed when you find yourself having to plan a funeral, especially if the death was unexpected. Most people don't plan very many funerals in their lifetimes, so everything is unfamiliar and confusing when you're thrust into it for the first time. It's easy to end up spending much more than what you intended to spend, and not all funeral homes will go out of their way to tell you how to save money. However, it is possible to keep funeral costs reasonable while still honoring the deceased. Take a look at a few tips that can help keep funeral expenses down.

Ask for Itemized Prices

Most funeral homes offer their customers burial or cremation packages. In fact, a package will often be offered before you get a look at the a la carte price list. In and of itself, a package funeral deal is not a bad thing. It can save you a lot of time and eliminate difficult decisions. The problem is that not every funeral home package is a good deal. Some are unnecessarily expensive, or they're padded with items that you probably wouldn't want if you were ordering them separately.

The only way to know if you're getting a good deal or getting taken to the cleaners is to ask for an itemized price list. The Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to give you specific prices and written, itemized price lists upon request. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into a package deal without looking at the prices list first.

Shop Around For Caskets

A casket is one of the more expensive items that you'll have to purchase for a funeral. It's a good idea to look at as many of them as you can before making a decision. The caskets in the showroom at the funeral home are very strategically placed. Funeral directors know that overwhelmed family members often buy one of the first few caskets they look at, usually opting for one that's priced in the middle of the most expensive casket and the least expensive casket they look at. That's a pretty good incentive for funeral homes to only put their high-end caskets on display – even if every customer opts for the mid-priced one, they're still paying more than they would be if they were looking at a display of high end, medium, and low-end caskets.

Ask to see a catalogue with the models that aren't showcased in the showroom. And if you have the time, look around at other options as well. You aren't required to buy a casket from the funeral home that you're using. You can purchase one directly from a manufacturer or online from a warehouse if you prefer.


Funeral directors aren't heartless – they understand that death sometimes comes at inconvenient times and it happens in families that are not particularly affluent. Much of the merchandise in a funeral home can be discounted at the director's discretion.

It never hurts to ask if something can be discounted, or if they can match a lower price offered by another funeral home. In some cases, you may be able to save several hundred dollars just by asking for it, especially if the alternative is that you'll take your business elsewhere. As long as you're polite and reasonable, many funeral home directors will be willing to work with you on price.

The important thing is to take your time. Don't rush through the funeral planning process. The more time that you take to plan and shop, the less likely you are to put undue strain on your finances.