Cremation vs. Burial Costs

I’ve been fortunate enough in my life that I haven’t had to plan a funeral so far.  I really can’t imagine the stress of having to do that.  It’s no wonder that it’s an industry known for high costs.  I can imagine you would be willing to pay ANYTHING to avoid having to make those kinds of decisions at a time like that.  It would be very easy for Mr. Slick Salesman and make some quick sales.

“Oh, don’t worry about it dear.  I’ll take care of everything.  It will be very nice.”  Cha ching!

Couple that with the unwillingness of the living to actually plan ahead for the event and you’ve got yourself a double whammy.  But planning ahead now is one way to ease the burden of your loved ones a little bit.  Planning your funeral and communicating your wishes will help your loved ones make those awful decisions when the inevitable happens.  Of course, make sure you are ready to die in other ways too.

Ok, all that said let’s talk about cremation vs burial from a purely financial point of view.  Obviously there are a lot of ways to go here.  I found a site that gives the estimates of funeral costs in all US states.  I’m going to use Arizona prices in this article, cause that’s where I live.

Burial Costs

It costs between $5,500 and $9,500 for a burial.  That price includes a casket, outer lining for the casket, flowers, and transportation.  The driving factor in the price range is the quality of casket and outer liner.  If you want a prettier, higher quality box then you pay more.  The transportation and flowers are basically the same in the more expensive package deals.  Well, you do get a limo for the family and some extra flowers.  But really what does that cost?  $200?  The bulk of the extra $4,000 is in the casket and liner.

Also included in those costs are use of the funeral home for viewing, getting the body ready for burial and into the casket, printed items such as a register book and prayer cards, death certificate, a tent for the cemetery, and clergy.

However, what’s not included is a pretty big deal… the plot.  The cost of a plot varies widely as the cost of land varies widely.  According to Forbes, the average burial plot costs $4,000.  Hugh Hefner paid $1 million for the burial plot next to Marilyn Monroe.

Cremation Costs

It costs between $1,000 and $6,000 for a cremation.  The driving factor in the price here is what type of service you want.  They will do just the cremation for $1,000.  Nothing is included in that package.  For an additional $2,000 you get visitation funeral services and flowers, without the body present.  For the top of the line $6,000 package you get basically everything from the burial package except that after the ceremony they cremate you instead of burying you.

It’s important to note what’s not included in the cheapest cremation package.  Your loved ones are still going to have to have some kind of ceremony.  It also doesn’t include an urn, so that would also be an extra expense of about $200-$300. There would also be additional expenses if the family wants to place the urn in a cemetery.  They could also make some jewelry out of you.  Which is cool… in a creepy kind of way.

If it were not for the plot burial and cremation aren’t that much difference in price.  The cheapest burial and most expensive cremation are basically the same price.  And that makes sense considering you are getting the same basic service.  The only difference between the two is that in one you get a little piece of ground and in the other you get cremated.  The big additional cost of burial is the gravesite, which is understandable.  It’s only a tiny of piece of land but it needs to be maintained for enternity, and that doesn’t come cheap.

If cost is an issue cremation is a lot cheaper.  You don’t even need to have a ceremony at a funeral home.  Maybe your loved ones could do it at church or in their home.  If that’s the case, you could skip out of this world for less than $1,500.

Do you have any experiences planning a funeral?  I’d be interested to hear what you got for the money.

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32 thoughts on “Cremation vs. Burial Costs”

  1. My dad actually is a member of The Neptune Society. You pay one price and when you pass they take care of the rest, wherever you are in the country. He liked that idea since he moved around a lot when he was in the service.

    I would like a green burial with no coffin. I know some areas don’t allow it but I it something I want to look into.

    I don’t know about that jewelry, I often lose things. 🙂

    1. Niki, your in for a very rude awakening with Neptune society, rarely have I seen them charge what the family paid at the time of death. The price WILL go up, guaranteed.

  2. I know I want to be cremated. Not even so much the cost as I don’t want to take up space in the ground in some box that doesn’t decompose. I think cremation is a “greener” option.

  3. I also wish to be cremated, as does my husband. It’s just more appealing to spend my after-life (after-death?) blowing in the wind than rotting in the ground.

  4. Hunter - Financially Consumed

    Cremation is my preferred option, then spread my remains in the ocean on a good rough day. I honestly don’t want a physical memorial, headstone, plague, whatever. My family can remember the good times without that. Plus, I don’t really feel a close connection with any geographical area as we move so often.

    Funeral services are an amazingly profitable business, and there is always a steady supply of customers…sorry, bad joke.

  5. I want to be creamated then my ashes sneaked and dumped into the spice warehouse of the Oscar Mayer Company, That way I really could be an Oscar Mayer Wiener.

  6. I would never want to go from living to zombie but if I were already dead I guess zombie is better than nothing. So take my advice and get buried… cremated people do not have a chance for reanimation.

  7. i work with the site that you recommended on your blog here. It is important to note that the pricing is for today’s price, price doubles every 10 years, a burial in 2000 was around 4,900, now it is well over 10,000 . So wouldn’t you like to help ease your family estate by planning their most difficult day? Make sure that they aren’t guessing what you would like, cremation or burial. Preplanning while one can make small monthly payments is wise and affordable. Complete that process Now, while it is on one’s mind is so critical as we are so busy now adays and who knows when we will die, it is unexpected times when we need to plan out this today, not for us but for our loved ones. fb me edna sains morton

  8. I think there is way to many bodies taking up space in the ground. Everyone should get creamated, that way we don’t polute the earth anymore. I dunno, just seems like a waste of money and space…guess it’s just all up to the person.

    1. Bill Gerrettie Jr.

      I agree. Not only are my wife and I getting cremated but I also believe all the bodies in he ground should be dug up and cremated and the ground reclaimed for the living.

    2. I agree. Ashes in the wind and maybe a cross at my chosen spot. Just don’t want to be underground forever. But lie you said, it’s a choice.????

  9. I plan on having my body cremated. Mainly to avoid my family having to deal with an expensive burial.

    @Edna: The decomposition of living matter doesn’t polute the earth, but actually adds nutrients and materials into the soil that are a large part of our planets Eco-system.

  10. We burried my dad in 2011. He thought his $5000 life insurance would provide for hus funeral expened. We had family in the business who gave us some discount…his service still cost $10,000. We purchased a very nice and beautiful inexpesive amish wooden casket, had viewing and service at church, purchased our own casket flowers and provided his burial clothing. Had very nice funeral, but certainly the cost was a shock!!!!! My poor mom is reeling still from the shock. Add to that cost $5000 for tombstone….I’ll be cremated thank you

  11. Marcus Williams

    OK maybe I’m the weird one. There is another option to the ‘disposal’ of your body. There is the donation to science. Most of your teaching hospitals and medical colleges get their cadavers from unclaimed bodies from the morgue. This option has all the perks of having a funeral, burial or cremation, plus you get to help out science! There is also the added bonus that most places will either pay for your choice of funeral arrangement, I’m sure probably just a base price for the full package, take care of the body themselves. There is only one draw back. If the family wants the body back then they will have to wait till the school is done with the body. My plan is to donate and have the university dispose of the my body. The weekend after my death have a memorial service no body need for that!

    1. Have you read the book, Stiff? It is well written and described in great detail what really happens to cadavers.

  12. I’m going through right now I purchase land for my mother. and decided to take her to Puerto Rico as she wished. where I bought the cremation area they have gave me such a hard time. money makes the monkey dance. places are just too much have no respect for the dead. It’s a business or industry buyer beware…if you decide to buy property for your loved ones prior to their departure do not sign for them. They will take advantage hope the situation if the arrangements change.there is no consideration for the loved ones or the dead these industryare here to make money

  13. tell you about the first place arrangements for my mom. So considerate so honest efficient.even when it came down to give me money back.

  14. now the second place with all the problems they gave me such a hard time. they both used to be affiliated And for some reason they separated the business. I can probably see why now. and when they sold the arrangements to me they made me sign for my mom then held it against me when I change my mind. do not singature their name. For no reason. no matter what have no choice then refund I am the owner because my mom no longer lives. they are a disgrace and I Was truly embarrassed by them…they had no respect for me as one of the owners or my mother ..may you rest in peace mom….

  15. Is there anyway you can force your family to cremate your body? Knowing my family and since I am a catholic, they are definitely going to want and insist to have a burial. My time is ticking and I want to be the least burden to them as possible. Is there any way I can basically force them?
    Doesn’t the reading of your Will only occur after you die and your funeral/cremation is all over? Thats how my mother, along with her brothers and sisters did it when my grandmother died. At least thats how it was done for her tangible good like jewelry and other things. I don’t about what was done with money that may have possibly been in the bank. Doubting that she had any since she came from India, didn’t know any english, and lived in my uncle’s house.

  16. I believe if you are a veteran with an honorable discharge you can be buried at a VA cemetery where there is no cost for the plot or headstone.

  17. My mother and I have been discussing what will happen after she passes. She has never been one to place burden on anybody. We didn’t realize that cremation is a way to greatly reduce the costs of a funeral by reducing the amount of land that’s needed for burial. That’s something my mother will definitely want to know about.

  18. I didn’t know that burials can cost almost $10,000. My dad is writing his will, and he wants to plan an inexpensive funeral for himself. Maybe I should tell him to look at cremation services to see if the more affordable cost would appeal to him.

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