The median cost of a funeral in the U.S. is $7,360, though in Arizona that median drops to $6,681.

Maybe you’re on a tight budget. Or you’re just looking to plan a funeral that’s heartfelt and tasteful but doesn’t break the bank. Either way, these costs can cause some major sticker shock.

Many people dream of making funeral arrangements that are an appropriate tribute to their love for the deceased. With that kind of thinking, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overspending on the service and all of the possible add-ons.

Luckily, planning a beautiful service doesn’t actually require a large investment.

Keep reading to learn how to plan a funeral that is memorable and heartfelt, but won’t leave you struggling with debt.

Start with a Budget

Before you ever start making funeral arrangements, it’s important to set a budget. Otherwise, you may dive right in and begin making costly decisions right from the start.

Costs will add up faster than you’d expect, and you’ll be left with little to finish your arrangements.

Start by figuring out how much total you are able to spend. Don’t stretch to the limits of your finances.

Unexpected costs may pop up during the planning process. If your finances are already maxed out, you’ll be left with nothing to cover these emergency costs.

Once you’ve set your total budget, start considering how much you plan to allocate to each part of the service. This will require you to do some research on the average cost of things like burial plots, cremation, and funeral services in your area.

These budget guidelines may change during the planning process. But they will help guide you as you begin making decisions.

Consider Cost-Saving Alternatives

If you start creating your budget and you’re worried that it’s too low to cover the entire funeral service and burial, it’s time to consider cost-saving options.

For instance, cremation is a less expensive option than a burial.

Caskets can cost $2,000 or more. A burial vault can be over $1,000, while a simple plot will be several hundred dollars.

In comparison, cremation costs a lot less. 

Another major expense involved in planning a funeral service is renting out a funeral hall and the attendants that come with it.

You could avoid this cost by hosting a funeral service in your home. This is also a great way to personalize your service, particularly if you can host it in a family home.

Some states even allow you to bury your loved ones on your own property. Arizona allows home burials, though some local districts may restrict them.

This could not only help cut costs but also allow you to keep your loved one close.

Pay Attention to the Details

Making funeral arrangements without breaking the bank doesn’t need to mean a bare-bones service.

By paying close attention to the details, you can still host a loving, heartfelt service.

Bring framed pictures or create a photo slideshow featuring pictures of the deceased. Compile a playlist of his or her favorite songs to play during the ceremony. If the deceased had a passion for music, ask other musicians in your family to perform during the service.

Not only will these details show how much you cared for your friend or loved one, but will also give you the chance to feel close to them again during your time of mourning.

Invite Friends and Loved Ones to Share Stories

Another great way to ensure your funeral service is heartfelt and personal without spending a fortune is to invite friends and loved ones to share stories.

If you aren’t pressed for time, ask many people to come up, one at a time, to share a story or memory.

You and the other guests will have a wonderful time sharing and enjoying these stories. You’ll be left with new memories of your lost loved one that you’ll be able to hold onto in your grief.

This is a simple, cost-free way to show your love for the deceased and create a memorable, beautiful service that will move everyone in attendance.

Skip the Expensive Add-ons

It’s easy for funeral costs to climb when you start considering all of the possible add-ons.

From expensive flower arrangements to ornate caskets, these add-ons are often overpriced and unnecessary. After all, your choice of flowers or casket doesn’t reflect your love for the deceased.

Instead, both are mostly designed to impress funeral service attendees.

Use the Money You Save to Create a Lasting Memory

While a funeral service is an important, symbolic way of saying goodbye to the deceased, once it is over, you’re left with only memories.

If you’ve chosen to cut costs by skipping expensive, unnecessary add-ons, consider using the money you save to create a more lasting testament to your loved one’s memory.

Print your favorite photo of the deceased on a canvas to display in your home. Plant a tree or other plant in their honor, or donate the money to charity they supported.

You can even order glass cremation jewelry that turns your loved one’s ashes into a beautiful piece of heirloom-quality jewelry.

How to Plan a Funeral That Won’t Leave You Broke

Figuring out how to plan a funeral that’s both beautiful and affordable doesn’t have to be a challenge.

By setting your budget ahead of time, considering cost-saving options, and paying close attention to the inexpensive, heartfelt details, you can say goodbye to your loved one in a way that anyone would be proud of.

If your loved one was a veteran, you’ll have a few additional decisions to make. You may need to seek VA benefits, arrange burial in military cemeteries, and plan a military service.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one who served in the military or fear that you will soon, check out this advice on burial and cremation for Arizona-based veterans.