Funding a Funeral: Cremation vs Burial Costs

A recent study found that 82% of its participants agreed that funerals were a crucial part of mourning a lost loved one. While 69% of the participants also stated that they would prefer to pre-arrange their own service, only 17% had actually done so.

Making funeral arrangements can be stressful and it doesn’t help that funeral costs can be pretty steep.

Of course, you want to arrange a beautiful service that properly honors your loved one’s life. In a perfect world, money would be no object at a time like this, but unfortunately, it is.

One thing that can help you make the best decision for yourself and your budget is knowing the difference between cremation vs burial costs. Read on to learn more about your options!

Why Funerals May Add Up More Than Necessary

Undoubtedly, funerals are expensive. But it’s not uncommon for families to dish out more money than they need to. Why?

For starters, the emotional impact of loss can complicate our ability to make decisions. On top of that, it may be more difficult to shop around for better offers when you’re working under time constraints. And, of course, many people are inexperienced when it comes to making funeral arrangements.

Another concern is that dishonest or shady funeral homes and cemeteries may try to take advantage of your grief. They may try to charge more for services that they know they can offer at a lower price or talk you into expensive add-ons by appealing to your desire for a nice funeral.

Knowing exactly what you need in advance can help you to avoid this outcome.

Deciding on Necessities

Before you start contacting funeral homes, decide on the kind of service you wish to have and keep a list of the things you’ll need to pay for.

Expenses and Services for a Burial

The following is a list of things you will most likely need for a traditional burial.

  • A casket: Caskets can cost anywhere between $1,200 and $35,000, depending on the material and quality you desire.
  • Embalming: Unless you plan to do an immediate burial, you will likely need to have the body embalmed, which costs several hundred dollars.
  • A hearse: It is difficult to gauge exactly how much a hearse will cost until you know the distance that needs to be traveled.
  • Funeral home service fees: Most funeral homes will charge separate fees for the time they have the deceased in their facility and the time that their facilities and staff are in use for the service.
  • A burial plot or mausoleum space: On average, burial plot costs run between $1,500 to $2,500. Mausoleums cost significantly more, starting around $4,000 and going up to more than $8,000. However, the deceased may have already selected and paid for their burial space before they passed.
  • A tombstone or grave marker: The cost of grave markers varies widely. Above ground stones will typically cost more than in-ground stones. Engraving costs tend to be by the letter.
  • Opening and closing of the burial plot: Even if a plot has already been paid for, you will still have to cover the fee to have the grave opened (dug up) and closed (buried).

If you wish to have a viewing before the burial, you will have to pay for any additional preparation to the deceased in addition to embalming. It is recommended that you have a mortician apply cosmetics to the deceased to make them look more recognizable and lifelike.

Expenses and Services for Cremation

There can be a lot fewer expenses if you choose cremation, although many of the options can remain the same. The following is a list of things you will most likely need for a cremation and funeral.

  • An urn: Urns can be very pricey if you want rare stone or embellishments and engravings. However, basic urns can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
  • Cremation: The cost of cremation may vary depending on the crematorium, but the minimum will usually cost as little as $800.

Cremation costs are lower than burial costs, although the fees for services can be fairly similar.

Some families choose to have viewings before cremations, which will require a rental casket and embalming. The use of the funeral home will also apply, although a hearse won’t be necessary for funerals without viewings.

Cremation vs Burial Costs: A Price Comparison

Even when you know that more services are required for a traditional burial than a cremation, it can be hard to determine how much more money a burial will cost you.

The average cost of funerals and burials in America is approximately $7,360. The average cost of funerals and cremations is about $6,260.

Cremation, however, gives you the option of hosting a memorial service at home. This can lower your cost by thousands of dollars, especially if you intend to keep the urn at home rather than a cemetery.

Before you make a decision based on price, alone, remember that there are a few other factors you have to take into consideration.

Deciding Between Cremation vs Burial: Beyond the Dollar

If the deceased left behind written wishes for their afterlife, it is important to honor them. In fact, in more than half of the states in America, you legally have to honor them.

Even if you’re not legally bound to the deceased’s wishes, it may be the right thing to do. Oftentimes, if someone feels strongly about burial vs cremation, it is for religious or cultural reasons.

That being said, there are situations that arise in which it makes more practical sense and is more sanitary to choose cremation. For example, if the deceased passed away in a state other than the one they are to be buried or memorialized in, the toll it will take on their body while traveling may not be worth it. Cremation may be a necessary choice.

Remember What It’s All About

As stressful and costly as funeral arrangements can be, try not to lose sight of what it’s all for–to honor your deceased loved one. Don’t get too caught up in the bells and whistles and stay focused on creating a service that will allow you and your family to say goodbye.

For more advice on all stages of life, check out more articles on our website!