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5 Ideas for End-of-Life Planning on a Budget

northern lights orb with cremation ash

Many people are shocked to discover how much end-of-life expenses can actually be. At last check, the average cost of a funeral tops out around $11k – and that number is expected to rise in the coming years. So, what happens if you don’t have lots of cash stashed away, or a life insurance policy that’ll cover those costs? Rather than leaving the burden of paying for your final arrangements to your loved ones, here’s how you can get everything taken care of, even if you’re on a budget.

Determine your final wishes.

Some things would be nice to have, while others may be deal-breakers. Sit down and make a list of how you’d envision your perfect funeral or ceremony. List out every aspect, from the type of ceremony you’d like to the kind of burial you prefer to the way you’d like your loved ones to celebrate your life after the fact. Then, go through that list and divide it by must-haves and niceties. The must-haves will help you determine a base amount that you’ll be looking at spending.

Consider cremation.

Being cremated is typically a much more economical end-of-life plan. If you’re on a budget, this may be something worth considering. And don’t worry – your loved ones can still lay you to rest by burial, if that’s what you’d prefer. Other options are to keep your ashes in a decorative urn, spread them somewhere or even have them turned into a piece of remembrance art or cremation jewelry. The possibilities are practically endless.

Shop around.

Once you’ve decided how you’d like to be laid to rest, the next step is shopping around to find the best rates. Not all funeral homes or crematories are created equal. Some are much more expensive while others offer more affordable options. Ideally, you’ll want to find someone who would be willing to work with you to create a plan that you’re comfortable with but that also falls within your allotted budget. Don’t be shy. You are in control, so put your negotiation cap on and get to work.

Cut out the middle man.

Most funeral homes offer complete packages, which include things like the casket or urn, tombstone, flowers, etc. At the end of the day, these are businesses, which means they are in it to make a profit. And one of the most effective ways they do so is by purchasing these items at cost and then selling them at a premium to the customer. It’s perfectly acceptable to purchase your own end-of-life materials, which is something you may want to consider doing if you are trying to save some money.

Skip the funeral.

There’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to host your end-of-life services at a funeral home. Some people choose instead to host celebration of life ceremonies at locations that are much more affordable, such as in a church or rental hall. Keep in mind, however, that if you do choose to go with a religious space, it’s customary to make a donation in lieu of payment. This amount will generally be much lower than what a funeral home might charge, but it’s still an expense, so be sure to adjust your budget accordingly.

Planning for end-of-life activities can be complicated and overwhelming. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right approach, some flexibility and a little bit of thinking outside the box, it’s entirely possible to have your final wishes carried out without breaking the bank in the process.




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