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A Baby Boomer’s Final Expense: Burial or Cremation?

by Ray Gregoire

As a child, I remember going to someone’s wake or funeral at least a dozen times each year, and I now contemplate my own funeral with a bit of humor and frugality.

I recall my dad saying, whenever a funeral procession to the cemetery went by, “I guess that person had only a few friends,” if there were only 2 or 3 cars in the procession, or “Wow, look at all those cars. He must have been a real popular guy.”

Well, I’m a Practical Guy

At every wake, people used to say how the deceased look so good, and I thought, "Really? He’s dead." I remember how everyone compared the after-burial party food (a tradition in many French and Irish families) to the food at other wakes. There was real competition as to who had the best spread.

I say, let Subway cater it and get a keg.

In the not too distant past, I had discussed setting up a trust fund for my first wife (now deceased) in case something happened to me, as she was not very good at managing money. Well, she told me, “If you do that, I’ll piss on your grave.” So, that is when I decided to make my own final arrangements and take away the opportunity for ANYONE to piss on my grave.

how much is cremation?

Keep Expenses Down on Your Final Expense

I started thinking about my future funeral by doing, as I do on everything, a cost analysis of the true cost of a traditional burial, as found below:

Caskets cost from $2500 to over $10,000, although you can find discount caskets online for a little as $995. These caskets can be delivered in only a few days, as needed, or they can be kept in your garage and pimped out by you with surround sound, beer and cigarettes for your final journey.

Then, there are the funeral home expenses for showing, embalming, etc., which can run into the thousands, not to mention the cost of the burial plot, headstone and the after-burial party, which would run several more thousands of dollars. And, there is the mandatory burial suit for $400, but you could always just get a jacket and forget the pants. No one would ever know.

What About Cremation?

I researched being cremated, which runs from $150 to $350, plus the cost of an appropriate urn, which runs as low as $89 at Costco or up into the thousands, depending on what you desire: bronze, silver, gold-plated, etc. Or, you can use an old shoe box for free.

If cremated, you can still have a showing, a headstone and a funeral plot if you desire, but I ruled that out and opted for five small urns at $25 each.

how much is cremation how much is funeral

You may ask, “Why five urns?” I’ll tell you why. If you’re buried, no one will ever (or seldom) visit you. But, with five children and five urns, each of my kids can have part of me for the rest of their lives and hand me down to their children. If they don’t like it, they can donate their urn to a house of prostitution. This way I can keep an eye on them and no one can piss on my grave.

Other Funereal Options

Another idea was to revive an old family tradition that dates back to Christmas 1985 when I asked my (first) wife what she wanted for Christmas and her answer was “something impractical.”

“What in the world does that mean?” I said to myself as I went shopping. I ended up at The Christmas Shop where I spotted an old decorative (fake) brass horn, which I told myself she could hang on the fireplace to add to our house’s colonial theme. Well, as you guessed, the decorative horn was not appreciated and my wife returned the horn to the store.

My oldest daughter thought this was hilarious and went to the store to buy the horn back and the next Christmas that horn came back via UPS. Every year thereafter the horn was shipped to another family member and, over a 16-year span, was repeatedly shipped to Alaska, Idaho, Maryland and Texas.

So, I could save money, buy one URN and have it shipped to one of my kids. Then, I could be the "Christmas horn" forever.

It's your funeral, as they say. It is your choice - $5000 plus or a few hundred dollars. So, do it now, while your final outcome is still in your hands.

More Articles for Baby Boomers:

How to Live a Longer and Healthier Life: Lessons From 90-Year-Old Ginnie Wilder

My Mother Had Alzheimer's - Will I Get It Too?

Aspirin May Delay Alzheimer's

Coping With the Loss of a Parent

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Ray Gregoire is a retired executive from Johnson & Johnson.

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1 Comment

  1. Tina

    Yep, that's my husband.