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How Much Does a Funeral Cost? 

average funeral cost

It seems like just about once a day, we’ll have someone give us a call here at IBUSA, wondering how much it would cost to purchase a burial or funeral insurance policy on themselves.

Which shouldn’t be…

Too surprising given the fact that we pride ourselves in being able to offer a wide variety of different burial life insurance policies provided by many of the best final expense insurance companies in the industry.

What is surprising is…

How unprepared many folks are to learn just how expensive it can be to bury or cremate someone nowadays. Especially in a respectable and dignified manner.  

This is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss how much it might cost to bury a loved one so that you can gain a better understanding of why you may want to consider purchasing a final expense or burial life insurance policy.

What are the costs involved with a funeral?

Here at IBUSA, when we talk about the cost of a funeral, we really mean the cost of death. Because whether we like it or not, just about everything in this world costs money.

And even though the deceased may not have to pay any bills once he or she is gone, his or her family probably is going to have to find a way to cover at least some debts left behind.

Some of these costs…

Will be fixed and there’s not all that much one can do to avoid them. While other costs will be entirely up to you and what you’re willing to pay.  

It’s sort of like a wedding. 

Sure, you can be married at the courthouse for just a few bucks, or you could spend a small fortune.

Either way, at the end of the day, all you’re doing is saying…

“I do!”

And in…

A somewhat morbid way, it’s the same way in death.

You could be cremated or put into a pine box at a minimal cost, or you could have a large funeral in a church, synagogue or other religious setting with hundreds of guests spending thousands of dollars!

And while…

It may seem like we’re exaggerating here, the sad part about it all is that once you decide that you don’t want to pursue the bare minimum route, it’s often quite difficult to avoid spending a small fortune!  

 “Don’t believe us?”

Not a problem, because now we’re going to take a look at just some of the potential costs you may encounter when burying someone which should help shed some light on why the average price of a typical burial in America is approximately 9,000 dollars!

So here are the costs associated with a funeral & dying: 

  • Funeral Home Service
  • Embalming
  • Body preparation (cosmetics and hair)
  • Viewing fees
  • Service fees
  • Transportation for close family members
  • Programs
  • Photo display 
  • Flowers
  • Catering
  • Casket
  • Vault
  • Burial plot
  • Tombstone
  • Hearse
  • Cremation
  • Urn
  • Burial plot

Now clearly…

Not everyone will have all of these expenses when they die (for example, you will either need a casket or an urn, not typically both), but most of the items on this list will add up.

And of course, there are options.

How Much Does the Average Funeral Cost

Cremation vs. Burial

This is the one major choice that usually lies with the deceased. Hopefully, it has been discussed and decided upon before death because it’s very personal.

Many things, like religion and belief systems, can influence the decision.

In addition to it playing a vital role in deciding where a person’s final remains spend eternity, it also impacts the cost.

In general…

What you’re likely to find is that cremation is going to be much more affordable than a traditional burial.

This is because when you cremate a body, you don’t have to account for a burial plot, casket, transportation of a casket, and embalming.  

You see…

With cremation, all you have to account for is the cost of cremation, a cremation casket, and the cost of an urn. This is why a cremation can cost as little as one-third the price of a burial.

The average cost of burying a body is roughly $7000, and the cost of cremation is about $1800-2000. These costs can and often will vary depending on one’s location.

Service Fees

If you are an active member of a religious community, you may not have to pay – or at least the fee will be nominal – to use the religious building for the service. However, this is only likely the case if you are truly invested in the community.

Most people, however, do have to pay for funeral service, whether it be held at a religious or non-religious venue.

On average, this costs somewhere between $500-2000, depending on the type of facility.

Viewing Fees

Body viewings are sometimes on a different day than the actual funeral, which means an additional cost.

Sometimes, even if the viewing is on the same day as the funeral, the facility where you have the funeral will charge additional fees because they have to make further arrangements to allow for the viewing.

On average, body viewing fees range from $300-500.


Caskets are kind of like cars – they come in all categories, from basic to luxurious. Hemp caskets are a new, affordable option, and they can cost as low as $1200.

However, the average cost of a mid-range casket is $2,500. High-end caskets can even cost as much as $10,000 or more.

This is one area where grieving family members might get convinced into spending more money then is necessary.

After all…

When you lose someone, you want to do anything you can, and the casket business is a business just like any other – they’ll do their best to upsell.

This is why some people decide to choose their casket prior to their own death – to ensure their family doesn’t spend a ton of unnecessary money on the “best” one.

Burial Plot

Burial plots are just like real estate. In cities where land costs more, so do burial plots. In small towns or rural areas, the cost of a burial plot is significantly less.

The average cost of a burial plot can be anywhere from $200-3000.


The price of renting a hearse and renting transportation for family members is again an area that can vary significantly.

If you want a brand-new hearse, it’s going to cost more to rent.


If you want to transport your relatives in limos, that too is an expense. Now it is not mandatory to provide transportation for close family members, but it’s often done because people are too distraught to drive themselves.

In total, transport rental fees can cost between $300-1500. 

Embalming and Prep Fees

Embalming a body is very common in America. This is because funerals typically happen a few days after the person dies. However, in many cultures, it is mandatory for a funeral to occur within a short window of time, thus there is no need for embalming a body. If you want to avoid this expense, you can try for a rush funeral; however, it’s probably difficult to accomplish in the United States.

In general…

People aren’t used to it, and even funeral homes likely won’t be able to pull it off. Thus, you’re likely to be stuck with at least basic embalming fees.

Prep fees will depend on whether or not you want an open casket. This is something you should think about long and hard before your own funeral – and it’s something to discuss with loved ones you may have to one day bury.

It’s a very personal thing to have people looking at your deceased body. Some people may not even feel comfortable with it.


The cost for embalming a body is roughly $700-800, and basic preparatory work is roughly $300 (if the body is in normal condition i.e. there are no wounds to cover or repair). 

General Funeral Service Fees

Funeral homes take care of the basic things such as processing death certificates, filing for benefits, directing the funeral, and communicating with the cemetery and other venues.

On average, this costs about $2000-4000.

The cost of funeral service fees generally varies greatly depending on location. If you are in New York City it’s going to be a lot more expensive than if you are in Mobile, Alabama.

Printed Materials

Most people like to give a program to every person who attends a funeral. The cost of this will depend on things like: paper quality, number of guests, embossing, color vs. black and white.

On average, people spend around $50-200 on printing for funerals. Also, if you want to make a big photo of the deceased, this will be an additional cost.


After the funeral, people gather to share their condolences. During this time, most people offer light snacks such as sandwiches, coffee and tea. Sometimes, this occurs at the funeral home and is included in the costs. Other times, this happens at the home of the deceased or a relative.

You can make these snacks at home, buy platters from the grocery store, or hire a catering service.

Again, this cost will depend on the quality of food, and the number of people you need to serve. An average food budget for a funeral is around $300.

Ways to Save Money on the Cost of a Funeral

Many options on how to save money were mentioned above, but to recap:

  • Choose cremation over burial.
  • Do not provide transport for family members.
  • Do not have a separate viewing.
  • Choose an affordable casket or urn.

Some things to keep in mind to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of during this time of loss include:

  • Shop around: It might not seem like the ideal time to find deals, but just because you are stressed doesn’t mean you have to go with the first funeral home you call. You can call a few.
  • Enlist the help of someone you trust: In this stressful time, it’s good to have a friend or relative who can be the voice of reason when making these financial decisions.
  • Don’t feel pressure: Though you just lost someone you love, it’s no time to go into debt. Your loved one would probably want to make sensible decisions.  

What happens if you can’t afford a funeral?

Many people in the United States simply do not have the money to pay for a funeral. Though none of them ideal, there are a few options.

Charge it:  When presented with unexpected costs may folks will turn to their credit cards to help get them by. And while this certainly is the “best” way to approach a problem for some it will be an option worth considering.

Get a loan: if you have good credit, then you might qualify for a personal loan. This is going to be a lot better than taking it out on a credit card. You can finance the loan in a way that won’t have exorbitant interest rates piling up.

Reach out to loved ones or the community: Often, people will turn to friends or family to help pay for an individual’s burial. 

Kickstarter or GoFundMe Account: It is possible to set up a Kickstarter campaign to pay for a funeral. Notably if you incurred a lot of medical bills leading up to the person’s death or if the person who died was the bread earner of the family, many people will contribute. It may not cover all your needs, but it will include some.

Speak with the County: If you really cannot afford a funeral or even burial or cremation, then the county coroner’s office may make some or all provisions. You may have to prove that you cannot afford it before this happens.

Of course, they will not pay for a funeral where friends and family gather to pay their respects, but they may pay to handle the body.

Have an alternative funeral: If you do go the county coroner’s route, or you just really want to save money, you can do an alternative funeral, where you simply invite those close to the deceased home for a small remembrance gathering. This informal setting can even wind up being more memorable, more special.


You could just contact the insurance company that you purchased your burial life insurance policy from, and inform them about you’re loss.

That way they could expedite their payment to you and your family so that you wouldn’t need to worry about how you’re going to bury your loved one with dignity.

You see…

This is why choosing to purchase a small burial life insurance policy can be such a good idea for many families.

Especially if you’re not financially prepared right now to take on the burden of paying for something like a funeral.

So, if you’d like to learn more about what kind of opportunities might be available for you and your family, just give us a call and give us a chance to help you out!

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