Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF® | Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on January 05, 2023

Cremation is the process of converting a deceased person's corpse into bone fragments. using high heat and flame, which results in “cremains”.

Cremation is neither a funeral ceremony nor is it the final disposition of the remains. It is an environmentally friendly method of disposing of bodies by burning the remains until they turn ashes.

This process reduces up to 70% of body mass and volume, freeing up space in landfills. However, it does produce smoke and heat pollution.

What Takes Place When a Person Is Cremated?

Cremation is done in crematoriums, which are large industrial-type buildings with muffles or furnace chambers used for the high-temperature process of burning human remains.

Different types of cremators exist such as rotary kilns and coke-fired. Extremely high temperatures are applied to the body until all organic matter has been destroyed. This can take from one to four hours, depending on which method of cremation is used.

The crematorium operator sifts through the ashes and removes any bone fragments that are left behind after processing, which can be as small as a fingernail or tooth fragment. 

The remains are then typically ground into a fine powder and placed in an urn for the family to use for the scattering of ashes, which is also known as "committal."

Why Cremation Is a Good Choice

More and more individuals are choosing cremation these days.

What could be the reasons behind this trend?

Here are some of the reasons why:

Affordability Cremation is generally a more affordable option. There are people who cannot afford the high costs of a funeral, no matter how simple it is.  Plus, there are lower maintenance costs after the funeral. No need to buy a plot and arrange for a headstone or grave marker.

Environmental Reasons There are several environmental benefits to cremation. It uses very few resources and saves space in landfills. It decreases the risks of contamination. As technology advances, the detrimental effect of cremation on the environment decreases.

Convenience Cremation allows individuals who wish to hold a memorial ceremony would have flexible time to do so. Because an urn is so compact, it needs minimal effort to handle and transport. Ashes can also be stored at home if desired.

What Are the Cremation Options, and How Much Do They Cost?

  • Traditional Cremation

This is just like the conventional funerals that involve a wake or visitation within two or three days of death.

A memorial service is commonly carried out before the cremation. Because this includes traditional charges like the coffin, embalming, and wake expenses, and additionally the actual cremation fees, this is pricier compared to the other types.

A traditional cremation might cost up to $4,000 or more.

  • Memorial Cremation

The body is cremated soon after death, so during the memorial ceremony, just the cremains are present. Because there are no traditional fees involved in this type of cremation, it costs less than a conventional or traditional one.

A memorial cremation could cost between $2,000 and $4,000.

  • Direct Cremation

Also called an "immediate burial" or "direct disposer".

The body is cremated soon after death, and there's no visitation or ceremony. This is the least expensive option of any type of cremation; it could cost as low as $700. There may be additional fees for transportation and paperwork.

How Can I Cut Cremation Costs?

  • Decide what kind of cremation you want

Before you begin, it is crucial to be aware of the different types of cremation available. This will help you to choose which type is most suited to your requirements and budget.

Always ask questions and get all information in writing. This will help you avoid any problems later on with billing or services rendered. It is easier to resolve concerns if everything is presented openly at the outset.

  • Look around for the best deals

As with most services, crematories provide their services at different prices. Shop around and look online to find the best deals in your area.

If you live near a larger city that has more than one crematory, then it would be advantageous for you to compare prices and facilities before choosing a cremation provider or facility.

Using coupons, discounts, and specials can help reduce cremation costs significantly. Most funeral homes have various packages available with different levels of service included.

  • Consider a direct cremation

Direct burial is usually less expensive than a cremation urn.

If you plan on burying the body directly, then you may want to consider doing so before the cremation, as it will save some time and money as opposed to waiting until after the cremation process occurs.

  • Think strategically about the funeral schedule

Schedule your service on the most cost-effective day. Saturday is usually the most expensive day to cremate a body and Tuesday or Wednesday are generally the least expensive. Schedule early morning or late evening services for less money.

  • Pre-plan your own cremation beforehand

Preplanning your cremation at an opportune moment can save your family a considerable amount of money, and can help to ensure that your wishes are understood and will be carried out properly. This will give you peace of mind.

Many funeral homes offer pre-planning packages. It would be advantageous to make use of this service and lock in what you think will be a fair price for the services that you want.


Opting for cremation is definitely economical, but it helps to do your homework and check around. Take the time to look up prices and compare plans before making any decisions that you may later regret.

Every family's needs and budget will be different and it is important to take these things into account when planning. An ideal rule of thumb is to plan ahead of time for your final preparations. 

When planning ahead it becomes easier to budget for the process you wish to happen. It will give you comfort and security to know that you or a loved one will be cared for when the time comes.


Cremation FAQs

What is cremation?

Cremation is the use of extreme heat and flame to reduce human remains to bone fragments. It is a reasonably priced burial option.

What are the types of cremation?

There are three main types: traditional, memorial, and direct cremation.

Is there a way to save money on cremation?

You can choose direct cremation, which is the process of cremating a body as soon as legally possible, with no ceremony or rites.

What are the cremation costs involved?

The average cost of a cremation is $2,000 - $3,000. To get an idea of what to expect in your state, check out our state-specific cremation cost guides.

Are there any types of payment plans available?

Some funeral homes offer their own payment plans. If they do not, ask if the funeral home can refer you to a third-party financial institution that does offer this service.

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

Find Advisor Near You