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The Business of Death: How Much Money Funeral Homes Makes

The Business of Death

It is a scary thought, but we’re all going to die someday. It’s not something we can avoid, it is certainly not something we can hide from, so we might as well embrace it, right? Well that’s exactly what many businessmen and women are doing, profiting from an incredibly lucrative industry that is worth billions a year.

Every day over 150,000 people die. There are diseases sweeping through major populations, there are new cases of suicide every minute and then you have the many truck accidents and car accidents that kill thousands of people a day (click here to learn more).

So just how are people profiting from all of this?

The Funeral Business

A funeral is a ritual that most of us in the Western world go through, and it’s a very expensive one. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that we will all need and don’t mind spending a lot of money on. Also, unlike weddings, a funeral is the end, not the beginning, so for many it’s the last chance they will have to blow the money they spent their life earning.

This, combined with the millions of people that die every year, is why the funeral industry is worth over $11 billion in the United States alone. The average funeral costs over $6.500. This is a fraction of the cost of the average US wedding but for many of us it will still be one of the ten biggest expenditures of our entire life.

This money is spent on coffins, burial plots and a service that takes the stress out of the situation. A lot of it is profit, with people paying for a service, but it’s one that is shared out between a number of people, from the funeral home to the landowners and coffin makers.

Is a Rethink Needed?

One of the biggest changes in this industry right now is the shift toward environmentally friendly funerals, as well as funerals that offer something a little different. People are tiring of the traditional, and when you consider how much waste is involved, this could be a good thing.

Since 1960, the number of Americans choosing cremation has climbed from 3.56% to 42%, taking a chunk out of the 104,000 tons of steel that are used to build caskets every year, not to mention the acres of land that is taken up by those resting in peace.

Wicker coffins, ash scatterings, memorial diamonds, cardboard coffins and even viking burials are all helping to reduce the damage done to the environment by the business of death, but at the same time they are helping more businesses to earn their slice of the pie.

As gory as it sounds, this is a very lucrative business and with the population ever increasing, it’s only going to become more lucrative. It’s something that many businessmen and women just can’t bring themselves to do, which means that the number of potential customers is climbing at a far greater rate than the number of companies that can cater for them.

In that sense, it’s the perfect business and one that is just waiting for an intrepid entrepreneur to clean up. But, understandably, many are staying clear and focusing on the living instead.

Five Fast Rising Industries that Will Shape the Future

Five Fast Rising Industries

Trends come and go. They rise in popularity and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. If they can withstand the additional weight, they will last and help to shape the future. If not, they will collapse in on themselves and become a footnote in history. You can predict the future based on current trends that seem to be holding against the strain of popularity, and these are the industries that are currently shaping the way we live and the ways in which they are doing it.

Competitive Gaming

Also known as eSports or Pro Gaming, this is basically playing video games as a sport. It has grown in popularity considerably over the last few years and players, teams and organizers make millions from it. It is the fastest rising global sport and could topple soccer within 2 decades.

This will lead to great things for the entertainment industry, but it will also lead to a future where the world’s biggest sports stars, as well as the kids who aspire to be them, learn their craft through years spent sitting in chairs hunched over keyboards or controllers. Stimulant abuse, carpal tunnel syndrome and insomnia is rife among pro players and already there is a generation of kids aspiring to follow in their footsteps, neglecting the great outdoors and active pursuits in favor of TV screens and chairs in their bedrooms.

We’re all for gaming and we’re big gamers ourselves (see our pages on NaughtyDog and Bethesda), but practice makes perfect and more practice is key as industries become more competitive. That could lead to disaster here.

Personal Injury

The United States has always been a very litigious society. Every year it seems like there are more lawyers, more cases and more reasons for the media to moan. In actual fact, the media are just exaggerating most of this and frivolous cases are on the decrease. However, personal injury law is still strong and highly profitable, while medical malpractice, dog bite attorneys and other areas are growing in popularity (click here to learn more).

To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) the rest of the world is now following suit. The UK is more litigious than ever, most first-world countries are adopting the USA’s attitude and before long we’ll all be the same. This will make the world a better place for consumers and it will force big business to stay clean, but it could also cripple many smaller businesses following small mistakes.


The healthcare sector is always growing and this is the case worldwide. Medical science is getting more advanced with each passing year. More illnesses and diseases are becoming curable, we’re all living longer and this means that there are more patients and more demands on healthcare providers.

This is increasing the profitability of private hospitals, it is increasing the number of insurance companies and is is also forcing governments to rethink the way they operate. The US is being forced to consider more universal healthcare, ensuring those with little to no income don’t get left behind. While the UK is on the other side of the fence, with it’s free universal healthcare system becoming crippled by the increased demand.

Supplements, Teas and Diets

We’re far more concerned about our health than we have ever been and for the first time in generations there are more people concerned about feeling good and staying healthy than just simply looking good. Tanning beds, steroid injections and fad diets are being phased out in favor of superfoods, healthy detox teas and well-being supplements.

This has shaken up the healthcare industry in many ways. On the one hand, there are more weight-loss scams than ever, but on the other hand there are also more regulations, more companies focusing on quality, organic products and more research being done into products that are effective and potentially life-extending.

That’s why we now know about the many benefits of turmeric tea, why we know about the potential life-extending benefits of resveratrol, and why so many more superfoods are being discovered with each passing day.

Estate Planning Basics for Business Owners

Estate Planning

Business owners and entrepreneurs who focus all of their time on growing their business and none of it on installing backup plans, run the risk of developing serious issues and inescapable problems when something goes wrong. Estate planning is one of the ways that they can avoid such a calamitous occurrence, so make sure you have all of the following in check while you grow your company.

You should also take a peek at this guide on 10 estate planning documents you could be missing created by legal experts who deal with this sort of thing on the daily.

A Will

Even if you have a next of kin who will receive your assets when you die, you should still create a will. It avoids probate issues and makes the process very straightforward. This is even more important if you have multiple beneficiaries or if you have family members, associates or friends that you want to receive specific assets, and others that you want to leave out altogether.

Families fall out, grudges are formed, and few of us want to think that when we die the people we hate the most in our family end up staking a claiming to our assets ahead of the people we love the most.

Creating a will doesn’t need to be a big legal mess and it is actually quite straightforward. But by avoiding this simple process you are creating a potential legal mess for your loved ones after you die and they are forced to pick up the pieces of your life.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is often thought of as the person who will decide whether to pull the plug or not if you are in a vegetative state with little chance of recovery. However, it goes much deeper than that. If you run a business then the most important aspect of electing a power of attorney is having someone who will take over business affairs when you are not in a fit state to do so.

You might be incapacitated, comatose, or otherwise in a position where you are unable to choose someone to run your business for you. Having a power of attorney elected beforehand simplifies this process and eliminates that risk.

Buy-Sell Agreement

This is an agreement that helps to redistribute your assets in the event of your death. A dead person can’t run a company and the person in receipt of their shares may not want to run it either. By creating this agreement you are giving your business partners the right to buy your assets from whoever receives them, or even from you. This means that the money can go to your next of kin instead of shares and the business can remain in control of your former business partners.

Succession Plan

This helps to initiate a seamless transition, moving the ownership of the business from one party to another. It will be used to establish new owners, new shareholdings and anything else that needs to be changed in the event of your death.

Estate Planning of All

It’s worth noting that these plans should be initiated by everyone in the business, not just yourself. You also want to be covered in the event that your partner dies. It works both ways, so if you get your estate planning in order then make sure you business partners do the same thing.

The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the United States

Most Expensive Cities in the United States

The United States is the richest country in the world, but there is a huge disparity between its richest and its poorest, which is why it tops the list for overall wealth, but still struggles with homelessness, unemployment and severe poverty, the likes of which you usually don’t see in such grand first-world countries. But where is all of that money going—where are the richest cities in the US and where are the most expensive ones to live?

Washington, D.C.

The seat of government is also one of the most expensive cities in the US. It’s big on tourism and this industry is part of the driving force behind rising property, grocery and entertainment prices. After all, those restaurants charge those premiums because they know tourists will pay them, but it means that the locals also end up footing the bill when they decide to enjoy a night on the town.

Boston, Massachusetts

The biggest city in the country is also one of the most expensive. One of the things that makes Boston so expensive is healthcare, as you’ll pay between 1/5th and 1/4th more than you will in other major cities. The cost of living is also very high and there is a premium charged on groceries and on eating out.

Unlike other expensive cities in the country, the median household income isn’t quite enough to cover the cost of basic living and this city is a long way from allowing the average resident to live comfortably within their means.

Honolulu, Hawaii

This is one of the tourist capitals of the United States, so it only makes sense that it is also one of the richest and most expensive cities in the country. They also have to import a lot of the products you see in grocery stores, which is part of the reason you’ll pay nearly twice the national average for staples like eggs and milk. Utilities cost over 70% the national average as well and that’s before we even touch upon the cost of eating out.

It’s a beautiful part of the country, but you pay a premium to experience it every day.

New York City, New York

This is the financial capital of the United States, if not the world. New York is home to the world’s two biggest stock exchanges, some of the biggest companies in the country, and so much more. It seems like everything in the Big Apple is grand and rich. Personal injury in New York is a colossal business and one we’ve covered before; sport is even bigger, with several teams in the NFL alone; shopping is massive, with customers traveling from around the world. There’s just so much to see and do. It really is the embodiment of the American Dream and that’s why it is and likely always will be the richest city in the United States.

It’s also one of most expensive when you factor in things like the cost of food, but if we’re talking about property and several other things then one city tops it.

San Francisco, California

This is the richest city in the US and the one where you’ll pay more rent than anywhere else. In fact, a one-bedroom apartment here costs more than the same apartment in New York. At more than $3,500 it’s the most expensive rental price in the US and it even tops some of the world’s biggest and richest cities.

San Francisco is a grand and glorious place to live. It has so much to offer, with rolling hills, glorious sunshine and a bridge that is instantly recognizable. You might get what you pay for, but it all depends on your perspective and we’re sure many of you would prefer to be living in New York and paying a little less for the pleasure.

Is a Rolex, Tag or Omega a Good Investment? (Investing in Watches)

Investing in Watches

This is a question that has personally always interested us. We love to collect and invest and if we can combine that with a hobby, purchasing something we like and enjoy and potentially profiting from it further down the line, then even better. But is this possible to do with premium watches like Rolex, Tag and Omega?

That’s the question posed for this investment guide and it’s one we will look at here, seeing how watches like Rolex’s have held their value over the years and establishing whether or not they are a worthwhile investment.

Stocks vs Watches

Stocks vs Watches

Before we look at each of the big brands in turn and at the merits of investing in timepieces, let’s see what happens when you compare watches vs stocks over the last few decades.

Brands like Rolex really came into their own during the 1960s, when they began to be perceived as a brand of the rich, the famous and the wealthy, and when their value began to rise significantly to reflect this.

In the mid 1960s and early 1970s Rolex were releasing timepieces such as the Explorer, which had a retail price of less than $200 back then (before your eyes pop out of your skull, this was still considered a lot of money. According to DollarTimes  it equated to about $1,400 in today’s money)

However, that watch today has a price tag of between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on the model and the state of the timepiece. If we suppose that you bought the first release and that you kept it hidden from harm for 50 years, then you’d be making a 100x return on your initial investment.

This equates to an annual increase of around 9%. If you invested in the S&P 500 instead then your return would be closer to 10%. Based on that, stocks would be the better option, but only just, and what would you prefer to have owned for 50 years, a piece of paper or one of the most expensive watches in existence?

The Cons of Investing in Watches

The main issue with investing in these watches is that big brands seem to have their heyday. This is when their products retain the most value and can go on to be worth significantly more than they were at the time of purchase.

The 1970s and 1980s were the best time to buy Star Wars memorabilia; the 1920s through to 1950s was the best time for comic books; the 1950s and 1960s was the best time for Gibson guitars. That’s not to say that they don’t continue producing valuable products, because they do, but rather that they will never replicate the sort of price increases you could get during those specific eras.

This is especially true in the modern world, where there are more brands than ever and where every successful company is producing more stock than ever. Take comic books as an example. The reason the headline-hitting million-dollar comics sold for so much is not just because they were the first in a series, but because they signaled a breakthrough for the company and the medium in general, and they came at a time when very few books were produced.

Watches like Rolex and Omega are similar. They have had their heydays and those vintage pieces will likely always increase in price, but the new watches probably won’t have as much of an impact in the future. The world will move on to new brands and new trends and while the classics will continue to hold the public’s interest, the new stuff won’t.

Of course, you could just invest in the vintage pieces, but even then there are problems. If you buy a watch that is 50 years old and keep it in very good condition then it will probably be worth more than it is now in another 10 or 20 years, but the value will not rise as sharply or as swiftly, because you’re now selling a valuable collectible that you paid top dollar for, as opposed to a vintage piece you got for retail price.

Of course, another con to investing in watches is the fact that you are unlikely to make anything at all in the short term. You will likely need to be sitting on a time piece for at least 5 or 10 years before the value starts to rise significantly, assuming it ever does.

The Pros of Investing in Watches

Investing in Premium Watches

There are some benefits to investing in watches. It’s not all doom and gloom. For instance, if the watch was produced in limited numbers, was once owned by someone famous or contained precious metals, then it has inherent value that will always attract interest from buyers.

What’s more, while stocks can be high one day and gone the next, a watch with a strong inherent value will always be worth something and even if it’s not, at least you can still use it for the reason it was intended.

Watches from established, historic brands will also always appeal to a certain demographic, even if they have fallen out of favor with the general population. The current trend towards vinyl and old-school cellphones like the Nokia 3310 is a great example of this. Simply put, in a world of mass production and machine made products, people yearn for something traditional, something nostalgic. If you have a handmade or hand finished watch from a legendary and traditional brand, it could be akin to holding the first print of the first Pink Floyd vinyl today.

And whether you make money or not, the best thing about investing in watches is that you also get to own and experience these timepieces for yourself. So much work goes into the watches created by Swiss brands like Rolex and they are a true joy to behold. If you have a passion for them like we do, then investing in watches will be as much of a hobby as it is an investment opportunity.

So, put your money where your mouth and your hobby is and start investing in premium and vintage timepieces today.

The Financial Cost of Divorce (Rates, Stats and Facts in the US)

Cost of Divorce

Divorce can be expensive. You probably didn’t need us to tell you that. It is a common trope in TV sitcoms and romantic comedies and it’s something we also see everyday with celebrities and business owners whose divorces result in massive settlements and all kinds of resentment. But just how much does the average divorce cost in the United States, what is the divorce rate here and how does the US compare to other countries around the world?

Cost of Divorce in the United States

Before we get to the divorce rate in this country and its individual states, let’s look at the average cost of filing for a divorce. You will pay a filing fee to initiate the process and you will also need to pay for an attorney, typically by the hour. This can run-up a rather large bill, the total of which will depend on which state you reside in (as discussed below).

The average cost of divorce across the US is between $15,000 and $25,000, most of which ends up in the lawyer’s pockets. This is the amount that both parties will pay to get through the process and it does not include any possessions or money that changes hands. It also doesn’t include any assets that changed hands, any child support that was ordered to be paid, etc., So for many couples in the US this amount could just be the start.

What’s more, a huge number of Americans put themselves through this process every single year, helping to fund an industry that is said to be worth over $28 billion for the legal firms that help couples in this situation.

The US Divorce Rate

The rate of divorce in the United States is often quoted as being between 40 and 50 percent. However, this doesn’t apply to all states. California, for instance, has a higher rate at 60%, which is inflated by states like Orange County, which has one of the highest rates of divorce in the United States. It also doesn’t apply to all marriages, because if the couple have been married before then the rate increases even further.

When you take a closer look at marriage and divorce, the statistics are a little less doom and gloom. It is true that the average marriage in the US has at least a 50% chance of ending in divorce, but it’s also true that there is nearly a 70% chance that it will last for at least ten years and the odds that it will survive more than two decades is greater than 50%. Also, while the stereotype is that men stray and women stick, the stats seem to suggest the opposite and it is women who are more prone to ending the marriage. In fact, the odds of a marriage lasting 20 years are 52% for women, but 56% for men.

The Lowest Divorce Rate in the US

Divorce Rate

If Orange County has one of the highest divorce rates of all US counties, then which county and state has the lowest? You might expect it to be a religious state or a state in the Mid-West, but it’s actually New Jersey. The odds of the average couple ending their marriage in divorce

The Cost of Divorce in the US is lower here than in any other state. What’s more, second on the list is neighboring New York, followed closely behind Washington D.C.. Pennsylvania is also in the top five, just behind fourth placed Hawaii, suggesting that New England is a haven of sorts for marriage.

Most Expensive States to Divorce

Based on the average hourly fee of local divorce attorneys and the cost of filing for a divorce, the state with the most expensive divorce in the US is California, which is probably less of a surprise than the stats quoted above. The average hourly fee for an attorney is just over $400 in this state, and you’ll pay between $400 and $500 on average to file for a divorce.

The attorney fee is actually the third highest in the US, but only just, and the divorce filing fee is the highest, which is why the Golden State sits top of this list.

Cheapest States to Divorce

As for the cheapest, Wyoming tops this list, with an average attorney fee that clocks in at less than $200 an hour and a divorce filing fee of just $70 in many counties. North Dakota is also very cheap and South Dakota is only marginally more expensive, putting these two states in the top 3.

The US Divorce Rate Compared to Other Countries

The US is probably the most litigious country in the world. You don’t have to go far to find a quality, fully licensed attorney in this country. There are thousands of specialized lawyers for all kinds of sectors and family law, which focuses on divorces, annulments and other issues, is one of the most saturated sectors.

As a result, you could be forgiven for thinking that the divorce rate was higher here than in other countries and that the average settlement was also higher. But that’s not quite the case.

The divorce rate in the US is actually on the short side of average when compared to Europe and it’s much less than countries like Belgium, where the divorce rate is as much as 70%.

If you focus just on the cost of divorce in the US, then it is quite a bit more than most other countries. Take the UK as an example. It is very easy to settle a divorce for free or with legal aid in the UK, but even if you go down the paid route you will pay less than £1,500 (about $2,000) to cover the basics of filing, settling and getting consent. In Scotland it is even cheaper. Not only is it just as easy to do it for free north of the border, but the paid options can ensure everything gets settled for less than £500, or about $750.