With the average cost of even the most basic funeral exceeding $6,000, according to 2010 statistics released by the National Funeral Directors Association, finding low-cost alternatives to expenses like tombstones can help with the costs of burying your loved one. An inexpensive tombstone monument doesn't have to look cheap. A number of elegant and respectful alternatives will save you money.
Purchasing the tombstone from a mortuary will usually cost more than purchasing it privately. In the article "The Lowdown on Funeral Costs," Kiplinger recommends purchasing the tombstone directly from the monument company that makes it. This cuts out the middle man, the cemetery or mortuary, and creates instant savings. Also, shop around. There are multiple grave marker companies online and most large cities have several tombstone manufacturers. Choose the basic style you would like and then phone around or shop online for the best price.
A larger monument will cost more than a smaller monument. Reduce the size and you'll automatically reduce costs. For example, a single headstone is cheaper than a double headstone. The tombstone should also be in proportion to the size of the grave. Those buried in a vault may only need an engraved metal plaque, while those with grave sites on the lawn need an actual headstone. According to Dimensions Info.com, a typical lawn headstone has a base that measures 600 millimeters by 1 meter.
Intricate details like fleur de leis and etched faces add to the price of your tombstone, as most engravers charge by the hour. Stick with a simple memorial that states the person’s name and date of birth and death. Expect to pay about $9 per character for basic engraving. Keep in mind that you can add more letters at any time and the engraver will likely go to the grave site to complete this work. Use the bare minimum for now and add information as your budget allows.
While a headstone is the typical marker for a lawn grave site, other options cost less. A bronze or granite flat runs between $100 and $300, as of 2012, on three different online grave marker sites. Pillowtop markers add a bit more bulk but are still less expensive than an upright. Consider options like concrete memorial benches, which can be purchased from lawn and garden suppliers, with a bronze plaque or engraving added.
Lori Soard has been a writer since 1995, covering a variety of topics for local newspapers and magazines such as "Woman's World." For five years, she served as a site editor for a large online information portal. Soard is also the author of several published books, both fiction and nonfiction.