For most people, one thing that surprises them when they have to organise a funeral for the first time is its cost. A 3-day void deck funeral can go at about $6,000 in Singapore, and if you wish to have a lavish one, it will cost more. And often, this price doesn’t include other good-to-haves, like food catering, obituary, cremation fee, and so on.
Yet, having a well-planned funeral is something most next-of-kins would love to have, as a last gift to their departed loved one. When financial limitations and your best intentions come head to head, how can you control the expenses on the funeral while still conducting a respectful farewell?
Well, it is still possible, as long as you are willing to make some sacrifices. Here are some ways you can minimise your spending on the funeral:
Cremation is the cheaper option
In Buddhist traditions, cremation or burial are both acceptable. So, why not make your choice based on cost? Due to limited land space in Singapore, burial is a pretty expensive affair. What’s more, remains that have been buried can only stay there for 15 years – after which, they would need to be cremated or re-interred.
Thus, unless it is for personal or religious reasons, most people opt for cremation as it is the cheaper choice. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), the burial fee for adults is $315 while cremation fees cost $100 in government facilities.
After cremation, the popular choice is to have the urn kept at a columbarium niche. This is ideal for families who wish to have a physical place to visit their ancestors – however, this also means you need to spend on the urn, niche, and marble plaque.
If your family desires, you can also opt to keep the ashes in an urn at home, or go for sea burial or burying the ashes in the soil of a plant.
Cut down on the cost of transport
Typically, funerals in Singapore are adorned by luxurious fleets of limousines to accompany the hearse and transport the family from one point to the other. If you want to cut down the expenses, this can be an area worth exploring.
Consider creative ways of transporting the family apart from the limousine fleet. It may be tempting to splurge on these expenses without professional guidance, but if you are careful in choosing the funeral company, you’ll have a funeral director who understands your constraints and will help you to work towards them.
Go easy on the food
Having catered food is a form of courtesy to your guests, but if we’re being honest, no one goes to a wake expecting a 5-star meal. Rather than splurging on luxurious meals from expensive caterers, it’s perfectly alright to opt for simpler meals, like bento boxes instead of buffet food.
For most guests, the table snacks are quite sufficient, and it can save you quite a bit when you spend less on food.
Minimise spending on decorations
Anything that’s purely for aesthetics can be taken to a minimum to save costs. While flowers are a nice touch at funerals, you don’t need a whole row of flower stands. Keep them to a minimum if your budget is tight. The likelihood is that there will be friends and relatives who send flowers as well, so you won’t have to worry that there’s too few of them.
On that note, even the casket can be a point for saving costs. If your family is not too concerned with having a fancy coffin for the deceased, the practical choice is to just go for the simplest casket option. After all, the casket will eventually be cremated or buried along with the remains.
Ultimately, there are several areas in which you can definitely shave off some of the costs when it comes to funeral planning. It is understandable that some of these points may be significant to some individuals and families, and are not open for compromise. But there’s bound to be other areas that are less important, and these are the very areas you can save on.
Engaging a trusted funeral company can also help you along the planning journey, as the funeral directors can best advise you on how to arrange for the funeral according to your family’s wishes. Here at 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, we are committed to helping bereaved families arrange Buddhist funeral proceedings to reduce their worries during their difficult time.