Don’t Rely on the NFDA’s Funeral Cost Statistics

"Regular Funeral" with Casket + Burial = at least $9,000

"Regular Funeral" with Casket + Burial = at least $9,000

Every publication on the cost of a funeral quotes the National Funeral Directors Association’s statistics on funeral costs — $7,323 for a “regular adult funeral”.  But this statistic is incomplete when talking about  funerals involving burial. This sum is based on data from 2006 and does not including the cemetery plot, grave marker, flowers or obituary notices that are typically part of this type of funeral. With those added expenses and inflation the “regular adult funeral” is more realistically around at least $9,000.

The NFDA would probably argue that their number is complete from the funeral director’s perspective.  The cemetery costs and fees are often separate from the funeral home’s costs and fees but the average consumer doesn’t know who does what and wants to know the bottom line.  How much does a funeral cost — from start to finish.  How much?   I wish reporters dug a little deeper than simply quoting the NFDA’s statistic without reading the fine print.

The other gaping hole in the NFDA’s funeral costs information is cremation.  The cost of  cremation services  is completely ignored! The NFDA mentions that cremation is growing fast and has become a very popular method of disposition. Cremation was the method of disposition for 34.89 percent of deaths in 2007.   The NFDA then lists the states where cremation is most and least popular, but no mention of how much funeral homes are charging for disposition by cremation.

We’ve taken a long hard look at funeral costs and believe that our article How Much? Funeral Costs – a detailed price breakdown is the most current and comprehensive information on funeral costs available.

The quality of a funeral is not pinned to the amount of money spent.  Whether the loss is sudden and unexpected or the result of a long illness, it’s important to honor the life of someone who has died and to come together as a community to share grief and get support from each other. This can be accomplished by spending a few hundred dollars on a direct cremation with private memorial gathering or by spending $100,000 on an elaborate funeral. Both can be dignified and meaningful choices.

There are less expensive options. (Take a look at my new article on Cost Saving Funeral Tips)

The least expensive direct cremation we’ve found is $540 offered by a crematory in Los Angeles, California. This includes only the basics – transportation of the body to the crematory, cremation procedure and placement of the ashes (cremains) into a simple container for pick-up. You can invite friends and family over for a private memorial gathering.

Prices for identical products and services can vary tremendously depending on whose selling the product and geographic location.

The price for funeral services and products is sometimes difficult to determine. Vendors often require you to contact them for the price, making comparison difficult and time consuming. However, as you’ll see from our analysis, it’s worth taking the time to call around to compare prices before committing to any particular funeral home, product or service.

Research your options, think about it and make the best decision for yourself and your loved ones.

– Anna


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