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 this 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.
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.
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 aslo 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.