Forget Cremation – Here’s How to Save Money on Your Funeral

There are few things in this world that are guaranteed. Taxes and death are two of them.

Speaking of death, have you seen the commercials with those lousy actors that want you to buy extra insurance after letting you know just how much the average funeral costs.

The commercial might be bunk (at least in theory simply because they want you to buy more life insurance) the cost of the average funeral is not.

It’s really about $5,000. Before you say it, you really don’t save that much by being cremated.

So what can you do to defray some of your final expenses AND help someone out?

Are you sitting down?

Donate your body to science!

Hold your horses before you give yourself a heart attack. Yes, you read the last sentence correctly. Donate your body to science.

Are you worried about funeral costs? Do you want to ditch your life insurance policy? Read this article about donating your body to science and how it can save you and your family some money.

How Donating Your Body to Medical Science Works

Scientists need bodies in order to understand how things work AND you get to completely forgo any of the costs associated with the handling of your remains.

  • No embalming costs (this damages the tissues and prevents certain tests from being performed),
  • no coffin costs (you can rent one from the funeral home for the memorial service, if you choose to have one),
  • and no cremation fees.

As a matter of fact, you don’t have to pay one dime in final expenses if you choose to go this route and have a private memorial service. Here’s how.

The easiest way to do this is to pre-register with your local medical teaching hospital. In order to complete this step, you’ll have to complete the forms included in the registration packet those wonderful people at the school give you.

Sign the consent form and whatever you do, don’t forget to add this language to your will so that your family won’t get into a big argument over whether or not you were kidding. (Check out Fabric if you don’t have your last will and testament already written.) Make sure that the folks handling your final affairs are well aware of your directive so that they will actually tell the funeral service to call the school when you kick it. Proper arrangements will be made by the service in charge of your body so that you are properly preserved. 

You might want to ask to see what the hospital or school plans to do with your body after their done with you, if you or anyone in your family cares. Most will cremate you at their expense and turn you back over to your family after you have served your purpose.

Donating Individual Organs to Save Lives

If you would rather your organs be used to help save someone else’s life instead of being used as a practice surgery cadaver, you have to register with the Network For Organ Sharing as well check the little box on your driver’s license. Just checking the box won’t get it done. Then, your family can choose to have the memorial service of their choice at the venue of their choice and spend as much or as little as they choose.

Related: Get Paid to Donate Bone Marrow for Transplants

Donating Your Body to Science for Money is Illegal

One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much the school or organ network needs your body, they won’t pay you for it. By law, they are unable to actually purchase bodies to use for science. Can you imagine what life would be like if they did? Talk about a new perspective on grave robbing.

Donating your body to science is a noble (and cheap) way to make sure that you are properly taken care of after you’ve taken your final breaths. The work done on your body can mean saving the life of someone else. Plus, it’ll save you a boatload of cash.

What about you? Would you consider donating your body to science?

Avatar About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Avatar Gail Berdahl says

    My husband & I both signed up to donate our bodies to science, to help mankind.My Husband died on March 18,2019 & he went to “Science Care” in Philadelphia.They were so kind to me while I gave them information on my husband.I will be giving my body also when I die.Its very humbling to know we can help mankind after we are gone. THANK You Gail.

  2. Im truly thinking about this so I do not have to put that worry on my family. I have no insurance that will cover it. I have talked it over with the family that it would matter to and they are o.k withit. I explained it to them that by doing this I will be helping 100 to 10,000 people by what they can discover from my body. So I think that Im going to donate my tired body to sicence.

  3. My friend and her brothers looked into this for their mother, who has Alzheimer’s and is in hospice care, because they wanted to help Alzheimer research (donating only the brain was not an option with the particular medical school they talked with). They were told that they would receive the creamated remains back in 3 to 5 years. They ultimately decided against donation because none of them wanted to deal with an additional emotional upheaval years later, especially after spending 10+ years watching their mother go down a very slippery slope of decline. Actually, depending on where you live, if you have enough land and are a certain distance away from any septic tanks or water supply, a family cemetary is legal, and bodies don’t have to be embalmed. I am not clear on the legalities of vaults, probably again depends on your location, but this is something my ex-husband and I discussed and briefly looked into, having a small family cemetary on the back of our acreage with a simple wooden casket in use. There are options besides your standard funeral home.