Granted – it’s not all about the money. But for many people, cutting costs on a funeral is important for their own lifestyle and welfare. Let’s look at some of the ways you can manage the costs. In my humble opinion, these tips seem pretty reasonable.
(1) A cremation is generally cheaper than a burial.
(2) Shop around.
Compare online prices as they may be cheaper than physically visiting the same funeral directors to obtain their price lists. In fact, obtaining an itemised price list prior to signing up for a package may be worth the effort as service packages with an unexplained total cost are more likely to include inflated profit margins. Obtaining a breakdown is the best way to see exactly what you’re purchasing which is important given that the funeral director’s service fee can account for nearly 40% of the price on average.*
(3) Compare prices from the major brands which may actually be centrally owned by a large listed corporation.
(4) Check if the funeral operator advertises prices online as these can be lower than contacting the funeral provider directly.
(5) A wake is often cheaper as you are not paying for hire of a venue.
Having the memorial service at home can also be more intimate.
(6) Rather than having funeral cars to transport the mourners, arrange for family members to drive their own cars.
This reduces the hire fees by saving on funeral cars and limousines.
(7) Replace direct advertising notices and instead utilise social media for free.
Notifying friends and family via social media is generally more effective in the modern age.
(8) Choosing a basic wooden coffin rather than an expensive extravagant one.
According to an article by Sandra van der Laan and Lee Moerman for The Conversation, mark-ups on coffins and caskets are commonly between 300% and 500% and have been reported up to 1000%. Based on these numbers, buying an expensive coffin may be a good emotional choice, but is probably not the most cost efficient decision. The coffin price could easily represent approximately 30% of the price of a funeral, even though it doesn’t need to.
People tend to plan for the birth of a child, for weddings and even overseas trips, but not for funerals. People accessing funerals services are driven by circumstance rather than choice, which creates the conditions for significant service fee and mark-ups on coffins.
If you can’t cover the cost of the funeral…
If the dependants or relatives of the deceased are unable to find the money to pay for your funeral, the government may deem a destitute person with no money or assets. They will then appoint a contracted funeral director to arrange a cremation or burial. This is unless the destitute dies in a hospital, in which case the hospital is responsible for the cost of the funeral or cremation.
The government-appointed funeral contractor is responsible for providing a casket and a hearse and arranging for the burial and a minister to attend.
If the deceased is buried, it may be in a common grave with no identification other than a number. Not your TFN, CRN, or even your Medicare number… just a random number.