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Comparing the Cost of Cremation vs Burial: What’s the Affordable Option?

After a loved one dies, you want to honor them while still being able to move forward. Compare the cost of cremation versus burial to find an affordable option.
Cremation vs Burial
After a loved one dies, you want to honor them while still being able to move forward. Compare the cost of cremation versus burial to find an affordable option.
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Cremation and burial have been around for thousands of years, but the cremation ovens we use today are only a few hundred years old. Both cremation and burial have become widespread in the Western world, which leaves many of us with a difficult choice.

Funerals can be quite expensive. The costs are so high that many people are considering different options. One of the most common alternatives is cremation.

What is the cost of cremation, though, and is it worth foregoing a burial? The answer can be somewhat complicated, and we’ll talk more about it in the paragraphs below.

1. Basic Costs

Which is the more affordable option between burial and cremation? The simple answer is that cremation is usually less expensive, but the real answer is quite complex. For instance, the costs can increase if you decide to do something special with your loved one’s ashes.

Meanwhile, much of the expense of funerals comes from unnecessary decorations and services. People often buy these when their emotions are running high, and they’ve convinced themselves that spending less means you loved the person less.

A good way to avoid this is to plan your funeral ahead of time, as morbid as it sounds. Planning your funeral ahead of time helps to ensure that every decision is made with a clear head, which can save a lot of money in the long run.

2. Location

The cost of a funeral differs from place to place. Hawaii is the most expensive, with a funeral costing about $14,000. Texas has some of the lowest-priced funerals in the country, with the average funeral costing just over $6000.

Most states tend to fall on the lower end of the spectrum since the average funeral cost in the US is about $7,500.

This is strange since the cremation costs in certain Texas cities are quite high. Houston charges $1,200 for cremation. Dallas charges $1,300.

3. Urns

Much like caskets, urns can vary in quality and price. The most basic urns may cost as little as $100. However, many people want specialized urns, which can go as high as $1000.

It’s still more expensive to bury someone, but if you’re in Dallas, for instance, and you decide to buy an expensive urn, you may end up saving less than you expected.

4. Jewelry

Suppose you have your loved one cremated, but don’t want to leave their ashes in an urn for all eternity. This happens quite a bit, and it has led to some creative ideas.

One such idea is to have the ashes turned into an imitation diamond and have it put into jewelry. As beautiful as this idea is, it can be very expensive.

Having the diamond made often costs $1,000 at least. A more expensive diamond could surpass the costs of a funeral and burial.

However, you can forego the diamonds and have the ashes put into jewelry in some other way. These can cost a few hundred dollars, but they tend to cost a lot less than diamonds. If you want cremation jewelry that doesn’t break the bank, it may be best to skip the diamond.

5. Tattoo

Some prefer to keep their loved ones even closer by putting their ashes into ink and getting a tattoo with it. While not as expensive as jewelry, this can add a few additional costs.

The average cost of a tattoo in the United States is $250. Mixing ashes into tattoo ink is a more specialized process, so a cremation tattoo costs even more. The costs can be even higher if you get a larger tattoo or go to a different business to get the ink.

The ink mixers will charge a few hundred dollars themselves, so the total cost of the tattoo can be over $500. It’s still well below the cost of a traditional burial, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

6. Going Green

Eco-friendly funerals and cremations are growing in popularity, and there’s a good reason for this. Not only do these types of burials help the environment, but they’re often more cost-effective.

A ‘green burial’ means that the casket is biodegradable or is replaced with a simple shroud. All of this will eventually be broken down by microorganisms and used to feed the plants and soil.

Since many expenses of traditional funerals aren’t included in a green one, the cost can drop to half or even a quarter of the traditional price.

There are also biodegradable urns, which are fairly affordable when it comes to urns. Many of them cost around $300.

7. Viking Funeral

While you can’t put dead bodies in a boat and legally set them on fire, you can put their ashes in a tiny wicker ship and set that on fire. Some companies, such as Cradle to Grave in the UK will make Viking ships out of wicker specifically to carry ashes.

The ships are biodegradable and everyone loves a Viking funeral. This can be a costly way of sending your loved one-off. In addition to the cost of cremation, the ships and their transport cost can be up to $700  or more.

The Cost of Cremation

The cost of cremation varies quite a bit depending on where you are and the specifics of the cremation. For the most part, they’re far more affordable than burial. There are still a few things to know and consider.

We’ve talked about some of these things in the paragraphs above, but there are others out there. We encourage you to do more research on your own if you’re interested.

If you want more information and advice on cremation, especially green cremation, please visit our site. We can tell you all about the process of cremation and how it happens.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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