A loved one dying is always difficult and the stress can be overwhelming. Despite your grief you will probably find yourself asking, “How much does a funeral cost?”
You may have life insurance  to cover funeral expenses, but average funeral costs are still pretty steep. Researching the costs before planning your loved one’s funeral will help set forth a sensible plan to help you through the funeral process.
Average Funeral Costs
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the average funeral costs in the United States can be well over $10,000 by the time you add floral arrangements, prayer cards and family transportation. Traditionally, when people think of funeral expenses they think of things like a casket and flowers. However, there are other items to take into consideration when planning a funeral, especially if you already cashed out your life insurance policy .
Cemetery Cost. Most people understand that cemetery costs can be profound. Headstones often start around $500 and run upwards of $4000. The materials used for construction contribute to a wide price range. An average granite headstone in 2009 cost about $1500. If your loved one did not already have a cemetery plot, you will need to purchase one. Prices of cemetery plots depend on location. They start as low as a few hundred dollars and can be upward of a few thousand. Also, be prepared to pay someone to open the burial ground, and vault used to reinforce the grave site. Opening the grave and vault preparation are around $600 and $1000 respectively.
Casket Cost. Another major funeral cost is the casket. There are many choices of caskets available from cardboard to stainless steel. According to the Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America, metal caskets were the predominant choice with 65 percent of all caskets sold in 2007. The average cost of a metal casket then was around $2300 as specified by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) price list survey.
Funeral Home Fees. Some items that people neglect to consider are services the funeral home will charge to prepare the funeral arrangements. Most funeral homes will charge a basic services fee. This fee includes expenses such as housing the body, retrieving the death certificates, and collecting burial permits. These fees vary depending on the funeral home used. They average around $1,595.
Ways to Reduce the Cost of a Funeral
Consider Cremation. If you are worried about costs, cremation might be a more sensible choice. It can cut down on funeral costs by eliminating the need for a casket, vault and headstone. If you decide to go with direct cremation, you may be able to eliminate the need for embalming as well. Cremation is becoming a popular choice for many families. In 2008, the U.S. cremation rate was over 36 percent and projected to rise steadily. Cremation services usually start at $1000.
Buy Online. Many online floral shops have funeral service flowers  that can be ordered and delivered for a fraction of the cost. In addition, you can order various funeral items online, like caskets and stationary.
Preplan Your Own Funeral
Another way to prevent your family from worrying about how much a funeral cost is to pre-plan your own funeral. Many funeral homes now allow people to pre-plan and pre-pay for their own funerals. Not only does it relieve your family from the stress of having to plan a funeral during a difficult time, it allows them to honor your final wishes.
Economically speaking, it also locks you in at the current prices instead of the inflated prices your family would pay. Though it is hard to think of your own mortality, it would benefit your family both financially and emotionally.
Pre-planned funerals also allow you to concentrate on the grieving process, which is priceless.
I realize this probably isn’t a popular personal finance topic to discuss, but it is one we should discuss. Obviously, spending money during a time of grief isn’t the best time to shop around, so we should force ourselves to think about it sooner rather than later.