Life Insurance

Smart Ways to Save on Funerals

After losing a loved one, you may be in charge of preparing the funeral arrangements. In our latest article, we discuss some smart ways to save on the cost of a funeral in Singapore.

Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging time. In addition to dealing with a wide range of emotions, you may be feeling extra stressed if you have to prepare the funeral arrangements. Due Singapore's limited space, 70% of funerals involve a cremation, while traditional ground burials are lent on a 15-year basis before the bodies are exhumed. Additionally, funerals can last a few days and can be tailored to different religious affiliations . Overall, the funeral could cost a few hundred to a few thousands of dollars. Knowing the average prices differences can guide you to creating an affordable, but honourable, occasion. To help you through the bereavement period, we've prepared some tips on how to save money for the funeral so you can make the event as stress-free as possible.

Consider Having a Short Ceremony

With over 800 funeral directors in Singapore that offer funeral packages lasting from 2 to 7 days, you may be overwhelmed with the your options. If you're a little strapped for cash, consider booking a shorter funeral. Longer ceremonies that range between 5-7 days cost 34% more than the average 2-3 day funeral. While a potential downside of having a shorter funeral is that Covid-19 restrictions limit funeral attendees to 30 people, you could host an online live stream of the shorter event to placate your budget and the government restrictions.

Average Cost of Funeral Packages by Duration of Funeral

Book a Funeral in an HDB Building Rather Than a Funeral Parlour

What if you want a longer funeral but the location is negotiable? In this case, you can consider swapping the funeral parlour for your HDB building. Funeral packages where the event takes place in an HDB building cost 13% less on average compared to funeral parlours, leading to potential savings of up to S$1,492. If you have a funeral in an HDB building, note that they're typically held in the open space on the ground floor of HDB buildings. Though this area is usually used for building community activities, these can make a good spot to allow other friends and acquaintances who live in the building to pay their respects. If you choose to have the ceremony in an HDB flat, however, you will have to obtain a permit from your town council.

Compare Different Vendors

Another way to save on costs is to compare services between different funeral vendors. As you get a feel for what kind of services are offered at what cost, you will be able to figure out which provider will provide you with the best value. This is especially important if you are having a religious funeral as many parlours will charge significantly varied prices. For instance, we found that one funeral vendor charged S$5,288.00 for a 3-day buddhist funeral, while another one charged S$8,561.00 but provided nearly identical services. Below is a benchmark of what you can expect to pay for different types of religious funerals.

Average Cost of a Funeral Package by Duration of Funeral & Religious Affiliation

Average Cost of a Funeral Package by Duration of Funeral & Religious Affiliation

Consider Hosting Your Own Ceremony

You can also save on funeral costs by foregoing a funeral director's services by hosting your own event. If you wish to have a wake, you will need special government permits. However, if you have already cremated or buried your loved one, you can have a ceremony at your own house or a rented place without much hassle.

Average Cost of Flower Bouquet by Type

Average Cost of Flower Bouquet by Type

If you're hosting your own event, keep the costs low by getting less expensive flower arrangements like roses and chrysanthemums. Additionally, if you cater the event, find a caterer who's price points fit within your budget. While you don't want to skimp on food quality, you can find some caterers in Singapore who charge as little as S$15 per head.

Consider Cremation or Alternative Burials

Most funeral services will handle your loved one's remains through cremation or burial. However, due to Singapore's limited land mass, burials can be quite expensive. Moreover, land is rented on a 15-year basis, after which buried bodies are cremated by the government. If your loved one was impartial to the way they wanted to be buried, then a cremation will be your most affordable option. A cremation done through the government is the most affordable option, costing an average of S$315. There are also alternative methods like green or sea burials, although they tend to be more expensive, costing around S$1,000-S$2,000, than cremation. Green burials, sea burials and keepsakes are more fitting for those concerned about the environmental impacts of burying someone underground.

In the event your loved one wanted a traditional burial, you can still save by selecting a simpler wooden casket. It costs around S$2,000 for a wooden casket, which is much lower compared to bronze and metallic ones that can cost upwards of S$10,000. Try to avoid getting tempted by add-ons like specialty gaskets that can increase the price dramatically. While it's tempting to get something comfortable for your loved one, you should be mindful of additions that cost a lot for the consumer but do little to preserve the body.

Sending off Your Loved One Is Difficult, But You Will Get Through It

Although you may want to give your loved one the best memorial possible, it doesn't have to break your budget. If you are preparing for the funeral prior to your loved one's passing, it might be worth checking whether they have set aside any money for their funeral, bought a funeral plan or had a life insurance plan. Alternatively, you could find ways to make the service shorter in duration and smaller in the total amount of guests you invite.

If you prefer to host a large funeral to celebrate your loved one's life and don't have any other financial recourse, you could take out a personal loan. While this is not recommended under most circumstances, if you intend to get a loan then make sure to find one with low interest rates. By comparing these loans, you will potentially save hundreds of dollars in interest payments. No matter which route you end up choosing, we hope you will be able to find the best course of action for you.

Anya Wasserman

Anya is a Research Analyst for ValueChampion who focuses on loans and investments in Singapore. Previously, she assisted global consultancies, hedge funds and private equities with primary research at a high-growth fin-tech based in London. A graduate of the University of Oxford and King's College London, Anya is currently interested in applying quantitative research to help consumers make better financial decisions.

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