Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The High Cost of Funerals

The subject of funerals isn’t much fun, but it can be a big expense. I’ve only had to be one of the primary people arranging a funeral once, and I definitely didn’t make smart choices. I was so overwhelmed by the whole process that I just agreed to pay whatever amount was asked for. However, cheaper alternatives exist.

A piece on CBC radio a week or so ago about funerals explained that the typical funeral costs between $5000 and $7000 before paying for the casket, organist, and various other extras. The total cost can easily approach $10,000. I definitely don’t want my family to waste this much money on my funeral.

An interesting alternative to a funeral home for Ontario residents is a business called Basic Cremations. (I have no connection to this business, financial or otherwise.) They will pick up the body, cremate it, and handle some basic paperwork for about $1600. They offer various other more expensive options, but this is the price of the basic cremation service.

This seems much more practical than forking over many thousands of dollars to a funeral home. The missing element is a place for a visitation. I’ve always felt that a visitation at the home of the family or a friend is more personal than a funeral home. In many cases, a subset of mourners plan to head over to a family member’s home after the funeral home visitation anyway.


  1. Hmmm ... $1600 is probably cheaper than the freezer and BBQ option that I had been contemplating. I might have to rethink my strategy moving forward.

  2. @The Wife: Sounds like this could save you some money and some trouble :-)

  3. But wouldn't the ashes clog your central vac?

    So $1600 could buy a nice BBQ that you could slowly burn him up with.

    The other option is keep him in the freezer and throw out small portions of him every week. Now can you put that in the Green Box now? I hope you can compost the deceased.

  4. Big Cajun Man is jokingly talking about composting human remains, but there is a movement towards green burials: no embalming, biodegradable casket or even just wrapped in a blanket.

    If thrift is what you are after, one can also donate one's body to science. Train doctors or other medical professionals with your cadaver.

    These are rational decisions, but like you mentioned, death is an extremely emotionally charged event.

  5. There's a similar service in Vancouver called A Basic Cremation. I've used them and can recommend them, it's $800 for a basic cremation. I did a price comparison at a funeral home for a comparable service it was almost $4000. The other options seems to be memorial societies that get you discounted services. In Vancouver that option was about $1400 for a comparable service.

  6. @Gene: I think its hard to make a thrifty choice unless the dead family member said it was what they want in advance. People could help their family's finances by giving the OK to go for a cheap funeral option.

    @Johny B: It's interesting that the Vancouver company can do it for only $800. I thought that $1600 was still fairly high, but at least it's better than the $5000 to $10,000 range.