Cost of Funeral vs. Cremation

Even though it has been there for many years; cremation seems a new and fresh option. Since it has no heavy associations with the traditional burial, it may seem less overwhelming to family members left behind. Cost is a major consideration with many families.

As a general rule Funerals cost $7650 on average vs the National average of cremation at $350. However, it’s not automatically true that the cost difference between burial and cremation is this substantial. The prices can be closely similar, based on the family’s option. Some funerals home offer in house cremations which brings down the average cost. If a family chooses to have a funeral or buy a urn slot at a cemetery thousands will be added to the total.

How Much Do Funeral Services Cost?

The type of burial you select can significantly impact the funeral cost. While the average national funeral, including burial and viewing, costs $7,650, the median funeral costs climb over $9,000 when the vault is included. On the other hand, a cremation average cost is about $350 since several funeral homes may handle this by themselves. National Funeral Directors Association project that by 2025, 63% of the funerals will be handled through cremation instead of 31% of the traditional burials due to its cost.

Whether you’re planning for your funeral beforehand to ease your family’s costs or for a different person, having information regarding the price of a funeral and possibly how to relieve them enables the process to be a bit easier.

Funeral costs to consider

There’s a wide range of fees related to a funeral:

  • Basic service fee: This is a standard service fee linked with a funeral. This general fee covers the planning fees, with any administrative and permit fees.
  • Merchandise & Service fees: These fees cater to funeral home fees for memorial and viewing and any additional equipment used for graveside service, embalming, and preparation of the body and transporting. You’ll also be required to pay for a burial container or casket or the needed services necessary for interment or cremation. We’ve written additional posts on interment and cremation so you have all the information you’ll need.
  • Cash advances: There’re several services which your funeral may help you with, like organists, clergy, and funeral flowers. You may need to pay an additional service fee or even marked-up prices to make up for the efforts of the funeral home; however, as per the funeral rule, these underlying fees need to be disclosed to you in written form. Learn more about the Funeral Rule in our Understanding the Funeral Rule post.
  • The median cost of a casket: is around $2,000, whereas other superior caskets from mahogany, plastic, wood, and fiberglass can cost up to $10,000. We wrote more about caskets here.
  • Other buyers buy a casket on their own as a way of avoiding third-party markups. But you’ll be responsible for transporting the casket to the funeral home, which may be a bit expensive. If you select cremation, you can always stay at the cost of a new casket. Many funeral homes will rent you a casket if you wish to hold a viewing or even better for the funeral as one cost-effective method if you have other plans for the burial.

Below are some of the average costs you may have to pay for a funeral, as per NFDA.

  • Funeral Service Fee: $2,100
  • Funeral Home Rental: $500
  • Funeral Home Staff: $500
  • Vault: $1,395
  • Cremation Casket: $1,000
  • Embalming: $725
  • Urn: $275
  • Cosmetic services: $250
  • Hearse: $325
  • Transportation: $325
  • Transportation for the family: $150
  • Pamphlets and materials: $160

Cremation seems to be cheaper than a burial, even though other areas are, of course, cheaper than other areas. If you reside in states like Oklahoma or Colorado, you’ll highly pay less than those living in states like North Dakota or Kansas.

How Much Does A Funeral Plot Cost?

The cost of a burial plot is based on many factors. The type of cemetery, space type, and place of residence are all factors you need to consider in how much you’ll need to pay. Averagely, the cost of a burial plot for caskets starts from $530 to $5,000 and $300 to $3,000 for the urn having cremated remains. Read more about how to buy a plot in this post.

Burial Plot Types

Selecting a burial plot is a critical part of funeral planning, and we have several options you need to choose from.

Single spaced

This space can only support one casket. This option is the standard type in most cemeteries.


These spaces are ideal for burying two people side by side. These are often used for couples.


This is a designated area for family members. The plot is often bought in square-, rectangle-shaped or a row area of the cemetery.

Plots For Cremated Remains

Many cemeteries feature urn gardens with plots to enable people to bury urns. Such spaces are significantly smaller than those used to bury coffins; therefore, they are not expensive. Plots for the urns are at times of the same standard spaces purchased for caskets. With this option, you can always bury over two urns in one single plot with this kind of option. In any case, you may need to acquire an outer burial unit for the urn.

Lawn Crypt

This plot is cemented, steeled, marbled, bronzed, or lined using any other solid material on the grave. With this type, caskets are fully protected, particularly in places with a high tendency to experience floods. This option can be used in a single, family, and double depth plot. Learn more about crypts in our Types of Burials post.

The average Cost Of Plot Cost

The median cost of a plot relies on a wide range of factors. These include plot size, whether the cemetery is private-public, the space in the cemetery, and where you live. Check out the average cost of the plot type.

  • Public cemetery plot: $525 to $2,500
  • Public burial plot for cremated remains: $350 to $500
  • Private cemetery plot: $2,000 to $5,000
  • Private burial plot for cremated remains: $1,000 and $2,500
  • Green burial plot: $1,000 to $4,000

How To Raise Money for A Funeral (GoFundMe)?

Raising money to cater to your family member isn’t an easy task. This is because no ready people are willing to campaign or mobilize for the funds fetched by strangers. You’ll need to use different methods to ensure you attain the target to finish anything related to funeral expenses. You can crowdfund and fundraise, but it is essential to clarify the details. But what if we told you that there is a simple and better way you can use to ensure the target is met even within a short time.

Now, GoFundMe is one of the best places to fundraise as an organization, group, or individual. The process of getting started is simple and easy. You need to fill in the required details and leave it to do the fundraising for you. Here is a simple step that you’ll need to get started with GoFundMe.

#1. Start your fundraiser

  • You’ll need to set your fundraiser goal in detail and clear format to enable your prospective supporters to get the message well.
  • Next, you need to give a story regarding the fundraiser and the key reasons that make you do a fundraiser. With such a process, your supporters will get to know what you’re undergoing and the reason why you’re seeking financial support.
  • Add a video and a picture.

#2. Share with friends

  • Send emails to friends to enable friends to make their contributions and make them aware of what came upon you.
  • Send text messages.
  • As much as possible, try sharing on social media to reach as far as possible.

#3. Manage Donations

  • Accept donations that all your friends have contributed
  • Thank donors, in a significant way, appreciate them for their support, and ensure to make them know that they have played a crucial role.
  • Get your funds by withdrawing them.
  • The procedure is clear and easy.

Ways to Save Money On Funeral

On average, a funeral can cost you up to $9000. This can be too much money for a family that just lost their own. You can avoid all this by opting for an affordable option. There are various ways of saving money and still coming up with something meaningful. Here are seven ways of saving costs as you honor the life of your loved one.

Opting for cremation than burial

Burial services can cost you so much. Some rough estimates that you can always expect can be around $6000. This includes the cost of the cemetery plot, burial vault, casket, and headstone. These costs do not have the services offered in the funeral home. This means that prices will indeed go up. Cremation can cost you less than $2000 in most scenarios.

Compare price lists of different funeral homes

Different funeral homes charge differently depending on the services they offer. Therefore, most of them do not share prices. Before you can settle on any funeral home, you can contact a few local homes and let them email you their general costs. You can compare them and choose one that suits your needs and budget. Also, you can use the funeral planning tool to get different quotes from different homes.

Save on the expense of a funeral home. Read this post about having a funeral at home.

Prefer direct burial or immediate cremation

You can opt for direct cremation or immediate burial if you do not see the need to view or service the body. Most funeral homes usually offer these basic packages to cover pickup, transport of the body, and the necessary paperwork. This will therefore save you a great deal on costs.

Donating the loved one to science

One way of minimizing costs is giving out the body to science. This will help in medical research, and the prices will be little. Most of these research donation programs usually cover cremation and transport costs. This allows you to save the money that was to be used here. You can also opt to work with a funeral home after donating the body, but it’s never necessary. We’ve covered body donation in more detail in this post.

Forgoing embalming

Embalming is the process of adding some chemicals to the dead body to slow down the rate of decomposition. This entire process can, however, cost you up to $725. It is beneficial. It is one way of reducing the amount of formaldehyde usually released to the ground because it is harmful to the environment. Learn more about embalming in our Embalming Explained article.

Buying a casket or urn online

During the funeral planning process, purchasing a casket can be the most complex decision. However, you can find a good casket online. This would be a bit cheaper compared to visiting those nearest funeral homes. So, you can save some costs by purchasing it at a much lower price.

Conduct the service at a free venue

You can conduct the funeral service at different venues. Most funeral homes can charge extra to offer you their staff and facilities for the funeral service. You can consider having it at a place of worship or a public place such as a favorite park. This will help you save much more because it will cost you nothing to hold the service.

Relying more on the internet

Most funeral announcements are printed and costly. With time, everything is getting digital, and you can do all this online. You can create a memorial website to do all that free. These websites allow you to make announcements, collect RSVPs and share the event details more conveniently. This saves you both time and costs.

What If You Can’t Afford A Funeral?

Not everyone can afford to bury or cremate their loved ones. This situation can happen when you do not have enough money to spend on funeral services. This is what you can do.

Checking on the person’s insurance policy

If the deceased had life insurance, you could check if all or some of the funeral and burial costs are covered. You can talk to the agent to be aware of their policies. This helps you understand whatever is covered. Here, you may find that most of the costs are covered, and you may incur no or little costs. This life insurance could be offered in the workplace, or rather the deceased might have bought it. Learn more about life insurance death benefits in our article here.

Go through low-cost burial options

Cremating a body is less costly than burying it in a casket or urn. If your state prohibits embalming, you can opt for a “green burial.” You don’t incur anything for the vault, casket, or headstone here. Additionally, you can search online for a cheaper casket. We went into more detail about green burials in our What is a Green Funeral post.

Call on friends and family members to help

It can be hard to cater to all the funeral or burial costs. If you have a shoulder to lean on among your friends and loved ones, it can help you. You can ask them to chip and help you out. This requires you to be candid with them and tell them how much the funeral cost. You can also ask them how much they can be able to contribute.

Applying for a loan

If you do not have any other solutions and have good credit, you can consider taking a personal loan. You should be comfortable taking this loan and be sure of how you will pay it back. This could from a bank or credit union to allow you to pay for the funeral. You should try your best to avoid taking a cash advance on your credit card. This is because it has a higher interest, making it difficult for you to pay back.

Talking to coroner’s county office

Whenever you cannot afford a burial or cremation for your loved one, all you can do is to approach the county coroner’s office. You can sign a form that states that you can’t afford a funeral for the deceased. After signing the release, the county and state will come by and decide whether a burial or cremation will be done. Additionally, the county can offer you the ashes at a smaller fee. However, if this is not possible, they can bury the ashes with other not claimed ashes.

As mentioned above, the cost of a funeral depends mainly on several aspects. There are several ways to save money in these cases. Undoubtedly, nowadays, cremation of a body helps to save money and other expenses. It is said that the burial of a person undoubtedly causes a special feeling and helps nature. If your family member does not want to be cremated, then burial is the best option.

Whether you opt for a funeral or cremation, the cost of either should be a concern. As we have pointed out, the cost of cremation is far less than a funeral, and it is clearly becoming a trend. But that should not make you abandon the funeral option because you can seek fund support for the burial of your loved ones. If you can check out GoFundMe websites, you can quickly get burial support.


Readinform is a Wisconsin based writer for funerals explained. They have come to understand the struggles of death and loss. Through life experience they have gathered the knowledge to help others and answer questions related to the funeral industry. When not writing readyinform focuses on learning new things and exploring the differences society offers.

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