The death of a family member is never an easy experience, but it can certainly be an expensive one. That's why families, especially in this struggling economy, have been forced to cut corners on funeral and burial expenses, even if it means not saying goodbye the way they'd like.

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According to Wilson Beebe, executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, families have been making efforts to focus more on "cost containment" since the start of the Great Recession in late 2007.

"A lot of people are choosing cremation as a final form of disposition because the cost of cremation is considerably less expensive than the cost of burial," Beebe said.

Of the 70,000 people who passed away in New Jersey last year, 41 percent were cremated. The cremation rate was around 17 percent just two decades ago.

The typical cost of opening a grave at a cemetery on a weekday is $2,500, according to Beebe. Cremation gets rid of that expense completely.

Beebe said money can also be saved by opting for less expensive "merchandise" like a casket. Prices range from about $1,000 to $4,500.

"There are a lot more options today than there ever were," Beebe said.

Schedule adjustments can be another cost-saver. Limiting on-site hours, or conducting all services in one day, tends to shave dollars off the final bill.

"Any combination of things like that will significantly alter their expenses," Beebe said. "They can get what they need for ceremony and remembrance without breaking the bank."

Click here for a closer look at funeral pricing in New Jersey.