Shopping for a coffin isn’t something we do very often. This is an occasion that happens maybe once or twice in a lifetime, so it’s understandable not to know where to begin. With so many types of caskets to choose from, how do you find an affordable coffin for burial or cremation?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How Much Do Caskets Cost?
- What Are the Different Types of Cheap Caskets?
- Tips for Buying a Cheap Casket Online or at a Funeral Home
Whether you’re planning a burial or cremation for yourself or a loved one, you’ll quickly discover that these final resting places don’t come cheap. If you’re trying to plan an inexpensive funeral, the casket is likely the best place to save money. These can range from hundreds to even thousands of dollars, so it’s important to cut costs anywhere you can.
However, finding an affordable coffin for burial or cremation is easier said than done. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the top tips for finding a casket that fits your budget without compromising on function.
How Much Do Caskets Cost?
First, you might be wondering how much a casket typically costs. This will depend on your location, the size of the casket, and the material. In general, a casket costs anywhere from $900 to $5,000+, depending on all of these things.
With a price like that, it makes sense for many to look for inexpensive alternatives. This is especially true if the casket is going to be used for cremation. When a body is cremated, it’s typically placed in a type of coffin that’s placed within the incinerator. Because this casket is only going to be burned and not buried, many families choose not to spend too much money on this.
There is no right or wrong price point for the casket or funeral. It’s simply up to the family to decide what works for them when paying respects to their deceased loved ones.
What Are the Different Types of Cheap Caskets?
Though it’s true you can find caskets upwards of $10,000, this is far from the norm. There is a wide range of cheap caskets that suit all price ranges, even those on a shoestring budget.
Like funerals, caskets or coffins are for the living. For many, it’s not worth a lot of money on something the deceased person won’t notice or appreciate. Luckily, there are many different types of inexpensive caskets like these explained below.
The first type of inexpensive casket involves more than a little bit of elbow grease. If you’re crafty and good with wood or other natural materials, it’s actually possible to DIY a casket for yourself or a loved one.
Before modern times, it was common for the family to craft their own caskets for loved ones. There are several guides and blueprints online to make this process simpler. It’s a highly personal, intimate choice. Creating a loved one’s final resting place can be a source of peace, creativity, and love.
A lot of people don’t realize that cardboard can be a practical, inexpensive option for a casket. Cardboard is sturdy and biodegradable, making it an easy choice for a green funeral or a cremation.
You can source unadorned cardboard caskets at around $200, and they’re easy to customize.
Another inexpensive option is a wicker casket. This natural material can be strikingly ornate, though they do cost more than other affordable caskets. With prices starting at around $800, this is a good compromise.
Wooden caskets are a traditional choice, but they can also be affordable. Though this will depend on the size of the casket and the type of wood used, there are inexpensive options. A pine casket starts at around $500, for example. The finish, extras, and size will affect the price from there.
For someone looking for simplicity, you can’t get any more basic than cloth. Humans have used cloth to bury their dead for thousands of years, so this back-to-basics approach can be very meaningful.
While it depends on where the body is buried (or if it’s to be cremated) and the type of cloth, this option is very affordable. In some cases, the family can even source the cloth themselves.
Last but not least, hemp has risen in popularity in recent years. A hemp casket costs around $1,000, so they’re a good compromise compared to more expensive options.
Hemp caskets are built with a lightweight pressed hemp board, and they can be colorfully painted or left plain. They resemble traditional caskets, but they have a bit of artistic flair that symbolizes a return to nature.
Tips for Buying a Cheap Casket Online or at a Funeral Home
If you’re in the market for a cheap casket, you have a lot more options than you think. Most funeral homes can guide you through this process, working within whatever budget restrictions you might have. That being said, feel free to shop online, call around, and use the tips below to get the best price.
1. Look outside your funeral home
While it’s easy to purchase a casket at your chosen funeral home, you’re not limited to their selection. The funeral home tends to be the most expensive place to source caskets. Since they act as a middle-man for bigger casket wholesalers, you’re not likely to find the best deal.
That being said, they sometimes offer discounts and promotions, so it never hurts to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for transparent pricing, call around to other locations, or even search online. This is a big purchase. It shouldn’t be made lightly or under too much pressure.
2. Explore big-name retailers
It’s surprising to learn some of the places that sell caskets. Big-name retailers you’re familiar with for other types of shopping likely have their own selection of caskets. While you’re unlikely to find caskets near the grocery aisle while doing your weekly shopping, you will find them online.
Because these large retailers have more buying power, they often offer better prices. Though you’ll need to include shipping costs in your estimate, don’t be afraid to look for coupons and special offers.
3. Search for financial assistance
If you or your deceased loved one was part of any specific government groups or organizations, they might be eligible for financial assistance paying for the casket. Under the Social Security Act, any Social Security recipients are eligible for a death benefit, which is $225 that can be used for an inexpensive casket.
In addition, if you or your loved one was a veteran or member of a local organization, it’s worth reaching out. These groups often have special funds available for those who need financial assistance affording a proper burial.
4. Consider online sellers
You don’t have to shop at big-name retailers or funeral homes if you’re more flexible with what you want. Aside from making your own DIY casket, you can also shop online.
A quick internet search will yield numerous results on Etsy and Amazon. Many people across the globe are passionate about creating handmade, inexpensive caskets. These will be far more special and unique than anything purchased at a store.
5. Find a discounted casket
Did you know that some funeral homes and casket providers have discount caskets? These are usually known as scratch and dent caskets, but they also might be discontinued styles no longer in use.
Both funeral homes and casket retailers sell these at a reduced cost to help get them off their hands. A small scratch, discoloration, or flaw in the casket is likely not a big deal and will go unnoticed. It could be well worth the extra savings.
6. Choose a green cemetery
Last but not least, you’ll need to pay close attention to local laws and cemetery regulations. Most traditional cemeteries have requirements about the types of caskets that can be used, and this could limit your options when choosing something affordable.
One way around this is to choose a green cemetery. Green cemeteries often allow eco-friendly burial caskets or cloth shrouds. They are less likely to have specific requirements for the type of caskets, burial vaults, and so on. They are also more affordable in general.
Save Money on Your Casket
Many first-time funeral planners are shocked at casket prices. With prices upwards of a thousand dollars, it makes sense to look for more inexpensive options. When you’re struggling with your budget, it’s easy to worry that you might not find something that’s both beautiful and functional.
Luckily, with these tips above, it’s possible to find something that’s respectful at any price. You can honor your loved one’s wishes without an extravagant price tag. As mentioned before, the casket is really just for the living, not the dead.
Your loved one will find peace no matter how their body is laid to rest. As long as you choose something that suits your needs and budget, you’re working in their best interest.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the funeral to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
- “Death Benefits.” The Social Security Administration. SSA.gov.