Rising inflation and the increased cost of living has hit products ranging from eggs to automobiles to cereal – but now rising costs are affecting people’s views on death.
According to a survey of 1,500 Americans, insurance agency Choice Mutual found that financial distress due to current inflation and increased cost of living has caused 28% to change their burial, funeral, or insurance plans. If money wasn’t a factor, 68% said they would change their burial plans.
The United States funeral industry takes in about $20 billion per year, according to Marketdata LLC. The price of the average funeral is $7,848.
Choice Mutual found that nearly 50% of respondents are concerned about the cost of their funeral and burial plans. As many as 43% of respondents would even consider a rental coffin for their memorial service to save money on their end-of-life expenses, the survey found.
“Americans are hyper focused on the cost of living and the cost of dying,” said Olivia Newport, research analyst in the Choice Mutual report. “Americans are becoming more educated on their options and are requiring more transparency in pricing and services.”
There’s also a movement away from traditional burials, Newport noted.
The U.S. cremation rate is expected to increase from 59.3% in 2022 to 78.7% in 2040, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The group attributed the rise in cremations to changing consumer preferences, weakening religious prohibitions, cost considerations, and environmental concerns.
“People are less interested in the traditional, religious-affiliated service. They’re interested in what’s most meaningful to your family and what’s not necessarily expected,” Newport said.
For example, 52% of Americans would consider a “DIY funeral” to save money on their end-of-life expenses. DIY, or do-it-yourself, is a broad term that covers everything from at-home funerals to direct cremation followed by a celebration of life, Newport said.
A total of 41% of respondents underestimated the cost of a funeral and 39% said they had been burdened by the cost of a loved one’s funeral expenses, the survey found.
“Cost is a major factor. But a lot of people don’t make plans and the family doesn’t have the time or the emotional stability to investigate their options. That may be why funeral homes charge what they charge,” Newport said.