When It Really Isn’t Your First Choice: Selecting Cremation Because You Cannot Afford Burial

You walk into a funeral home and what do you find on the price list?  You find that cremation is priced at pennies while burial is in the thousands of dollars and up.  In fact, the gap in pricing continues to grow between cremation and burial as funeral homes use ever decreasing cremation prices as a loss leader to draw in customers and grow their brand recognition while at the same time raising burial rates to offset their financial losses.

Daniel Isard argues in the July 2017 issue of The American Funeral Director, “[funeral homes] should price cremation to cover overhead, just as we do for burial.  We should not tax our burial customers to pay for the discounts given to our cremation consumers.  You can’t tax the 49 percent to offer discounts to offer discounts to the 51 percent.”

While cremation customers might not mind that their cremation is being subsidized by burial customers, they would care if they realized that with upwards of 70% of families choosing cremation, that many funeral homes no longer have enough burial customers to subsidize their lower cremation rates and are having to find ways of cutting costs.  Some funeral home owners and staff work full-time jobs outside of the industry and only open the doors of their funeral home when they are called.  Others use cremation mills, leverage the emotional vulnerability of their client families to oversell products they do not really want or need, illegally solicit customers at or near death, or find other ways to make their lower cremation prices sustainable.

And burial customers, well they should care that they potentially subsidize the cost of someone else’s cremation.  Burial customers are seen as the funeral home’s “cash cow” and funeral directors often leverage the emotional vulnerability of their client to oversell them products to increase the burial cost and bring in more revenue to offset their cremation losses.

At Putnam, cremation is priced as Mr. Isard suggests – fairly and in a way that makes us sustainable in a world of ever increasing rates of cremation.  Our role as a funeral director and cremation advocate is our full-time job.  We own the only crematory in the Highland Lakes area and only cremate for Putnam client families.  At Cremation Advocates by Putnam in Marble Falls, Burnet county – our focus is on cremation and we are the area cremation experts.  Turning to Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory in Kingsland, Llano county, in addition to being the area cremation experts, we are also able to offer a burial package that includes services in the option price at a lower cost than any other area funeral home – simply because we do not underprice cremation.  No longer do you have to feel forced into cremation because of the price, you can choose it at either of our locations because you want it and you want our level of service. And no longer do you have to choose the minimum or “disposer” level to afford burial – with Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, you will find that burial includes the Putnam service pledge and visitation and service options as an affordable choice.  There is only one opportunity to do this right, so whether you choose burial or cremation, do so for the right reasons and do it with Putnam.

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Ed N.
Ed N.

I am old school and want to be buried. Interesting to read about the “burial tax.” I am pleased that there is a Funeral Home doing it right and providing affordable options for those of us that prefer burial!


Not something I really want to think about but glad I read this. Disappointing that traditionalists like me are paying for the choices of others at most Funeral Homes. I am sharing this with my children and grandchildren to start a conversation about what I want.