Skip to Content (Press Enter) Skip to Footer (Press Enter)

Affordable Caskets & Urns: Your Guide to Cost-Effective Funeral Choices

Learn how to navigate the complexities of choosing caskets and urns within your budget. This guide covers factors influencing costs, practical tips for shopping, and understanding your rights to ensure a dignified selection for your loved one.

For decades, families who planned a loved one’s funeral had to be content with the caskets and urns offered by their local funeral home. Today, consumers have a wide variety of vendors and resources when they purchase a casket or urn outside the confines of a traditional funeral home. Depending on whether you choose burial or cremation, knowing how much caskets and urns cost can help ensure you find the best item within your budget.

Understanding Casket Costs: What Influences Price?

Caskets tend to be the biggest single-ticket item in funeral arrangements, leading many to wonder how to save money on caskets effectively. With a wide range of options available, caskets can vary significantly in price. Understanding these options is the first step in making a cost-effective choice without compromising on dignity or preferences.

Materials

High-quality materials like solid wood, bronze, and copper are generally more expensive. The following is based on today’s costs and should not be taken as actual prices:

  • Metal caskets range from $800 (20-gauge steel casket) to $15,000. Some high-end bronze and copper caskets are as much as $30,000.
  • Wooden caskets are between $600 and $10,000, although top-quality exotic wood caskets cost more. 
  • You may also rent a casket for viewings and funerals from $500 to $1,500. This option allows cremation families to have traditional services but without excessive cost. 

Size and Dimensions

Standard casket dimensions typically measure 28” wide x 89” long x 24” tall (and interior specifications of 24” wide x 79” long). Oversized caskets generally have interior dimensions ranging from 27 to 30” wide. If you need a larger casket, you pay extra for additional materials. 

Design and Craftsmanship

You can upgrade a plain casket with many customized touches like these, but expect to pay more:  

  • Shell Design – Casket exteriors can be wrapped in high-quality images, engraved, or include custom artwork to make them truly unique. 
  • Interior Linings – Most linings are polyester (including the crepe designs in many modern caskets), but velvet, silk, and satin fabrics are also popular. 
  • Custom Interior Panels – Besides the lining, you can add panels that reflect your loved one’s faith, belief, profession, and even their favorite sports team. 
  • Exterior Features – You may opt for fancier handles, personalized corners, or ornamental medallions on the casket’s exterior. 
  • Half or Full Couch Casket Lids – Half couch lids come in two pieces to display the deceased’s upper body during a viewing or visitation. A full couch lid allows for the entire body to be viewed in the event of an open-casket funeral.
  • Memory Tube – Some caskets feature a leak-proof memory tube in the lid, which is useful for identifying remains without reopening the lid if the casket is disentombed.

Choosing Affordable Urns: Key Price Factors and Budget-Friendly Options

The crematory will provide a temporary container containing the ashes in a heavy, sealed plastic bag with an identification tag. This assures you that the ashes are those of your loved one and not someone else. However, the temporary container from the crematory is not suitable for long-term storage, burial, or interment. Most of us would prefer our loved one’s remains to be in a more suitable, dignified container.

Urn Prices Vary for Several Reasons

Like caskets, urns can vary considerably in price depending on the material, design, and craftsmanship. You can buy an urn for as low as $19.99 at a discount store or spend as much as $2,250 for one made from exotic or precious materials. 

Materials

Compressed wood, metal alloys, ceramics, or biodegradable options are the cheapest options compared to: 

  • Exotic woods like mahogany, ebony, and rosewood
  • Stones, including granite, marble, onyx, and alabaster
  • Bronze, brass, or copper have higher purities than steel or alloys 
  • Hand-blown glass, porcelain with intricate designs, or urns with precious metal accents

Size and Dimensions

The typical adult urn has a 200 cubic inch capacity. Larger urns cost more. Also, the urn’s shape drives prices from those shaped like hearts, crucifixes, or even animals. 

Design and Craftsmanship

The more extras you choose for an urn, the higher the price. However, customization allows you to create a memorial that captures your loved one’s unique spirit, beliefs, and legacy: 

  • Engravings – This is a common way to personalize an urn with inscriptions like their name, dates of birth and death, a short epitaph or poem, or even a special message. 
  • Emblems and Symbols – You may add emblems or symbols, such as religious symbols, military emblems, sports team logos, and nature motifs.
  • Images and Photographs – Many funeral homes and urn retailers can etch, laser engrave, or transfer a photo of your loved one onto the urn. 
  • Finishes and Colors – Urns come in various colors and finishes, like metallic (bronze, silver, gold), matte or glossy finishes, and natural wood tones. 

Smart Shopping for Affordable Caskets and Urns: Practical Money-Saving Tips

Grief can lead to emotional spending. We recommend bringing a trusted family member or friend who can offer a clear-eyed perspective to help you avoid exceeding your budget during this difficult time.

Here are more practical tips to help you avoid overspending.

Ask for Price Lists Before Your Visit

Funeral homes have limited space for displaying caskets and urns. Ask for a price list of available inventory before you visit the funeral home. This can help prevent you from getting upsold on a more expensive item you don’t want or need. 

Get a Written Estimate

Always request a written estimate for both caskets and urns. The estimate should be valid for a reasonable period and include details like:

  • Customization options (if any)
  • Materials used
  • Sales tax
  • Item or model number (ensure it matches the actual casket or urn)

Know Your Rights

Funeral homes must provide a General Price List (GPL) outlining service costs. You also have the right to request and review price lists for caskets and urns, including those not displayed on-site.

Consider Alternatives

Bring Your Own – Funeral homes cannot refuse externally purchased caskets or urns. Explore retailers like Walmart or Costco (availability may vary). They cannot charge handling fees for your own casket or require your presence during delivery.

Alternative Cremation Containers – Many states allow for less expensive cremation containers. Funeral homes must provide a price list for these options. You can also purchase them externally.

Green Burials – For burials, some cemeteries permit green burials that eliminate caskets altogether. These utilize biodegradable shrouds or compostable containers. However, local regulations and cemetery policies might restrict this option.

Biodegradable Urns – Made from recycled paper, cardboard, or natural materials like bamboo or seagrass, biodegradable urns are eco-friendly and often more affordable. They are ideal for scattering ashes or ground burial.

Keepsake Urns – These are smaller than standard adult urns and cost less. Keepsake urns are designed to hold only a portion of the ashes.

DIY Urns – If you're crafty, you can create your own urn using sturdy containers like wooden boxes, ceramic vessels, or hand-crafted textiles.

Considering cremation containers on a budget is key for those looking to manage funeral costs effectively. Many states offer affordable alternatives that comply with regulations, allowing families to honor their loved ones without overspending. It's advisable to compare options from both funeral homes and external suppliers to find the best value.

As you navigate through the difficult time of planning a farewell for a loved one, understanding the cost of caskets and urns is crucial in making informed, budget-conscious decisions. By exploring affordable options and knowing what influences these costs, you can ensure that your choices reflect both respect for the departed and financial prudence. For more guidance on planning a dignified, budget-friendly funeral read Creative, Affordable Alternatives to Traditional Funerals or find affordable funeral service providers near you.