Penny pinching ways of celebrating funerals

Funerals. It’s a touchy subject – but let’s just be frank and talk about it earnestly. It seems inescapable, our departure that is, so we must confront the issue at some time, either for ourselves our nearest and dearest. Funerals can be expensive, and while it may seem disrespectful talking about money in times of grief, the bottom line is funerals are not free; a little bit of planning can avoid cost without compromising the sincerity of the occasion.

Burial or cremation?

• Cremation is now the preferred option, with over half making this preference. Crematorium prices vary but it is slightly cheaper than buying a burial plot and gravedigger (sextant).

• Caskets can be expensive when purchase from a funeral director. You don’t have to buy one from them. You can provide your own, either build it yourself or buy from a cheaper source.

Casket wreath

“I made a casket wreath for my father in-law, as he was not a “keeping up with the joneses” person, and I made it to suit him, which had weeds, grasses, shells, hooks, pheasant tails and heather. He lived off the land where he fished, farmed, went shooting, and at his back yard was the West Coast beach, as was the heather on the hills. You might think this was being a cheapskate, but in fact this was him….and the cost was nil.” – RMS


• The Bay of Plenty Times had an interesting article about keeping costs down. HERE >>>. The key points are:

– Most families spent between $6000 and $8000.

– Of the 180 cremations the company performed last year, only two families bought the casket. The rest chose to use a liner.

– More families are choosing the private family service at their houses or an intimate location.

– The best way to cut down on funeral costs was to have friends or family put together slideshows and videos rather than outsourcing it and use their own minister where possible.

– About 5% of New Zealanders had prepayment plans or insurance policies to help cover funeral costs.

• Here are some costs (as at November 2014) as quoted by a funeral director.

– Basic cremation $3,000 (no service, no viewing)

– Cremation with viewing but no service $4,000

– Cremation with simple service $5,500

Financial assistance

• Social welfare benefits are available to assist with funeral costs. You should make enquiries with the Department if Work and Income.


• Upright ones cost +$2,000. Flat headstones start at about $500 and can cost as much as +$2,000.

Prepaid funerals

• The Funeral Directors Association (FDANZ) have a prepaid funeral scheme that allows people to prearrange and prepay their funerals. The scheme enables people to pay for their funerals at today’s prices – you pay the current price for the casket and funeral service, regardless of when you die.