Four Ways to Save Money on a Funeral

Four Ways to Save Money on a Funeral

by Hannah Snyder Wernecke, fourth generation funeral director

1) Online Obituaries

Let's face it, most of us get our news online these days. Even though I subscribe to three papers—and I quite look forward to the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle with my husband—I find myself reading the articles online a good bit of the time. Like Snyder Funeral Homes, many deathcare providers offer free obituary hosting on their website for the families they serve. This can save the family $300-$500 in newspaper fees. I've even seen an obituary cost almost $2,000 for the larger metropolitan newspapers!


Consider spreading the news and service information online and ask if there is a free death notice option for your local paper. Of course, if you have the funds, there is a certain romance to seeing your loved one's announcement in the printed local paper. Take comfort in following the wishes expressed by your loved one if that’s an option and you have the financial ability to do so.

2) Consider an Alternative to Flowers

Fresh-cut flowers are beautiful, and to many of us they are a big part of important ceremonies in our lives including funeral and memorial services. But some families have found meaning and savings in using other keepsakes in place of a large flower arrangement. One family used a large handmade quilt to cover the top of the casket and it was later tucked over their loved one in the casket right before the burial. Another family chose to set photographs and certificates of various achievements around their loved one's urn instead of flowers.


For a military veteran using the American flag can be a powerful and patriotic symbol on the casket. Proper flag etiquette does not allow anything (including flowers) to be placed on top of the flag. This is a cost-saving option because as an honorably discharged veteran, the flag is provided by the United States government (and your Snyder Funeral Homes funeral director will take care of filling out the paperwork and getting the flag). Remember that skipping the family flower arrangement doesn't mean there won't be any flowers on the day of the service. Friends will likely send flowers as an expression of love and sympathy and your family could save $250-$500.

3) Select a Weekday Service

Most cemeteries are closed on Sundays, but open on Saturdays for an additional cost. Anywhere from $200 to $1000 in additional fees may be required by your cemetery for a weekend casket or urn burial. This is due to the overtime they must pay the employees to come in on their day off. For the same reason, the funeral home often charges a nominal weekend fee too, though most will not charge a fee if the death occurs on a weekend, only if services are selected on a Saturday or Sunday that could otherwise occur on a weekday. Volunteer groups such as local military honor guards may recommend a higher suggested donation for weekend services as well.


Monday through Friday services are not only cheaper, but they are also typically better attended. Weekends are busy for most people as their personal calendar fills up with those activities that require tickets or are harder to reschedule. Many folks who are retired have lots of time during the week, but the weekends are filled with grandchildren's sporting events and other family get-togethers. I’ve found a late-morning or early-afternoon weekday funeral gives friends who are still working the flexibility to attend by taking their lunch break at the corresponding time. Of course, family members and close friends will be expecting to take a few days off of work to attend all the funeral or memorial events from start-to-finish so they are the most flexible.

4) Have the Service at the Funeral Home

Some people think that having the funeral service at their church will end up saving them money. You may be surprised to learn that it's exactly the opposite! Many sanctuaries are starting to charge rental fees for funeral services similar to wedding events. Plus at the church there are a number of staff members that Emily Post would advise need compensation for their time. In addition to the pastor, we recommend a “thank you” monetary honorarium to: the church custodians, the sound technician, musicians (ie pianist, organist, guitarist), funeral luncheon committee, and anyone who speaks or sings during the service who aren’t immediate family. This can quickly add up to $500 or more.


For those that wish to have services at their church, you will be glad to know that Snyder Funeral Homes doesn’t charge anything additional for transporting, setting up, and packing out all the equipment required for a church funeral. The only fees to consider would be the fees and honorariums to the church and its members.

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