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How Much Does it Cost to Die?

Even after you die, there are expenses to take care of. Lots of them.


funeral costs

You’d think death would be the one thing that would free you from the bill collectors, right? Not quite. Even dying is an expensive proposition these days.

The average funeral is far from a cheap affair. Fortunately, many people plan for this by socking away money for their own burial services. This might seem like a morbid strategy, but it actually makes sense. Funerals can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Many people don’t want to place the burden for paying for these on the backs of others.

Just how costly can funerals get? Take a look at some of these numbers:

Burial clothes for men can run from $170 to $400, while these clothes for women can cost $95 to $350.

Caskets, of course, aren’t cheap. Fiberboard caskets run from $80 to $500. But that’s as cheap as you can go. Most people opt for higher-quality coffins or caskets. For instance, wood or metal caskets or coffins can cost anywhere from $345 on the low end to $12,000 for a deluxe model.

Clergy don’t come free, either. If you’ll have a member of the clergy presiding over your funeral, expect it to cost from $50 to $500.

Embalming fees run anywhere from $225 to $1,212, while flowers can rack up costs of $100 to $600.

Funeral homes aren’t cheap, either. The basic services, and this doesn’t include any frills, of a funeral home cost $480 to $3,000. A grave plot itself can run from $400 to $10,000, while storage and refrigeration fees for a body costs $35 to $510 a day.

Not surprisingly, the funeral business is a profitable one. The average funeral director boasts a yearly salary of $139,112.

There are signs, though, that the burial business is changing. The most important of these? A growing number of U.S. residents are choosing cremation over traditional burials. Cremation has two main benefits: It requires less space than does a traditional coffin-based burial, and it’s less expensive.

According to the latest statistics, 51.12 percent of U.S. residents will choose cremation over traditional burials by the year 2025.

Of course, not everyone is concerned about price when it comes to funerals. In fact, some people have had downright ostentatious funerals. Consider Alexander the Great. If the costs of his funeral were to be added up in today’s dollars, his burial would have run an incredible $600 million. This ranks Alexander the Great’s funeral as the most expensive in history.

Some celebrities haven’t even been content to keep their burials on earth. LSD-taking professor Timothy O’Leary and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry both had their ashes shot into space. This wasn’t cheap, either. It cost $4,800 for each of these ash space capsules.

People, of course, aren’t the only ones who receive funerals. More than 10,000 mourners lined up to attend the funeral services of Lazarus, the pet dog of Emperor Norton 1. The big event took place in San Francisco in 1862. This still ranks as the most people to attend a funeral for a pet.

By the way, did you know these two facts about funerals? The slow pace of today’s funeral processions stems from the days when caskets held lit candles. People couldn’t move the caskets too quickly, or the candles would blow out. Also, people traditionally wore black at funerals as a type of camouflage. The goal was to keep the spirit of the dead from reentering the bodies of the living.

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