The hidden financial cost of funerals

by Mike on July 4, 2014

The hidden financial cost of funerals

For those that may have noticed my writing has been a little sparse the last two weeks or so due to my being absent and distracted by a series of unfortunate family funerals. Its never pleasant watching one of your grandparents pass away let alone seeing two go within two weeks of one another. And aside from the grief I have obviously been feeling at this time its been interesting to see how this has affected my finances through a combination of travel, changed diet and even some obvious things like more phone calls being made.


So here are my observations of the Hidden Financial cost of Funerals;

Its not just funeral insurance

I am sure everyone has seen those TV ads for funeral insurance which are trying to sell plans to the older amongst us that cover the cost of your own funeral. The theory behind it being so your family need not to worry about the cost when we pass away. Sure this can help with the immediate funeral costs but there are ALWAYS extras. In my grandfathers case this didn’t include a choice of music, a slide show on the screen and only had a very small display of flowers. It also didn’t include a wake or memorial after the service. It just covered the service!

The extra money for all of those small items came out of my families pockets I can tell you now. And we all knew it was important for family and friends to be able to say goodbye and even more important for the older friends of my grandfather to have their chance to say goodbye too, so it wasn’t like we had a choice in not paying for those items.

Approximate extra costs (my share of);

Wake/memorial – $130
Flowers – $30


Getting to your memorial

So I chose to drive to my Grandfathers funeral for a couple of reasons of which finances  were only a small part. It probably would have actually cost me more in fuel to make the journey than to fly but I bought some family members back with me who shared the fuel costs so I actually think I saved here. Additionally it gave three of us the ability to get around for the two days where were in town which saved on cab fares.

Fuel cost for trip down $85

For most of us the chore of driving 10 hours south means we are normally going to stop a few times for breaks, snacks, toilet stops and in my case loads of coffee. I have to approximate this one as I lost track a little bit of the coffee I drank.

Food and drink cost during the drive: $35

I am not going to go into costs associated with wear and tear on the car as its too vague a figure to quote but I know I got my car serviced before I left to make sure it would be safe and in good condition for the drive.

 The extra cost of living away from home

So at home I am normally fairly thrifty with cooking, eating and other such living costs. I shop smart and make sure I use everything! Additionally working from my home office I dont even leave the house too often so heading out and spending quite a bit of money just living, surviving and eating was a shock. In the two days I was away I probably spent the following;

Dinner – $40
Accommodation – $69
Breakfast – $15
Lunch – $15

The above doesn’t include the food I spent on the way back home which probably came to the following;

Coffee – $15
Dinner- $15
Panadol- $7

I didn’t do any washing or anything else I can think of but know I made a couple of extra calls above and beyond what I would normally make. I figured this means my phone bill will be approximately $25 more than usual as I will exceed my plan cap.

Phone Excess $25

So what was my hidden financial cost for the funeral?

Its amazing but I worked out the total for being away for three days for a funeral as being quite high considering where I was and what I was doing. As a comparison I would spend around that in two days if I was actually away internationally on a holiday! With my frugal living this actually means I spent as much as nearly 3 weeks of groceries and living costs at home!

Total financial cost for the funeral – $466


Attended a funeral recently and not paid attention to your spending? Know someone who has had a similar experience? Leave us a comment and dont forget to share for everyone else who may be traveling to a funeral soon.


***Photo thanks to Tony Alter***

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