You may be wondering 'why do funerals cost so much?' and must funerals need to be so expensive? Largely it's because the options are almost endless (and often expensive) when it comes to saying goodbye to a loved one who has died.
Newspaper death notices...
The lack of transparency about the costs of these add-ons is also to blame.
The average cost of a cremation in Australia is around $6,000 according to Gathered Here according to Gathered Here, but the price of a burial can creep up to $15,000 depending on customisations and add-ons, finder.com.au reports.
A mahogany casket with gold handles might be how some people wish to leave this mortal coil, but for many others, the elaborateness just doesn't reflect how they lived.
The problem is, Australians generally aren’t aware that these top-shelf funeral features are optional. Many don’t realise it is possible to have a dignified farewell without all the bells and whistles, and without costing a fortune. That's largely the reason why funerals end up costing so much.
“Do we really need long-drawn-out services and use of hugely expensive caskets?” asked a respondent to *Bare’s Funeral Beliefs and Values Study.
The simple answer is "no".
Funerals are a 'distress purchase'
Funerals can end up costing thousands of dollars more for things families don’t even want. So, why do funerals cost so much? It is because paying for a funeral is regarded as a ‘distress purchase’, according to The Family and Community Development Committee (2005) Parliamentary Inquiry into Regulation of the Funeral Industry.
What this means is that consumers arranging an at-need funeral generally do so in a state of distress. They have limited time and knowledge of the available options, so the price is often not their greatest concern.
“Therefore, consumers are at risk of committing to expensive funerals”, the inquiry noted.
This is another reason why funerals cost so much.
The enquiry indicated the need for more readily available price information to improve consumer understanding of what they are purchasing and to allow comparisons from a number of funeral providers so that they can make an informed choice.
We surveyed more than 1,000 Australians about their beliefs and values when it came to planning a funeral. The lack of transparency was a common concern, likely another contributor to funerals costing so much.
“I was in too much shock to really know what I was agreeing to or what I planned,” said one respondent.
Another added: “Providers need to be more transparent.”
“Have funeral services that don't rip you off but offer things like cardboard coffins. More transparent costs should be upfront. No hidden surprises,” another commented.
Many others said that they valued simplicity and affordability when arranging a funeral. One respondent said: “Reduce funeral costs by cutting out unnecessary extravagant side charges. What is wrong with simple garden flowers?”
Bundled packages, minimal choice, and the lack of transparency were reoccurring issues from the Australians we spoke to.
“Keep it honest and direct ... not too expensive and not overly complex,” one respondent urged.
“Stop making funerals nearly mandatory. Not everyone wants a funeral or casket or all that palaver," said another. "There needs to be a simple, inexpensive way to celebrate someone's life that doesn't cost the earth.”
Australians want simple send-offs
Like many other Western countries, simple send-offs are what Australians want.
Aussies are preferencing simpler methods of disposition rather than more traditional burial practices, which are increasingly seen as outdated. Seven in 10 Australians (71%) would prefer cremation, according to Bare’s Funeral Beliefs and Values Study.
Most respondents said they would also want some form of ashes scattering afterwards, however around two in five (43%) said they would want a scattering without a ceremony. A quarter (24%) would want some form of attended scattering, but not as part of a traditional ceremony.
How to cut funeral costs?
When considering 'why do funerals cost so much?' keep in mind that they don't have to.
The simple solution to cut funeral costs is to only pay for what you want or need, and not what you don't.
The death of a loved one is a vulnerable time for those close to the deceased, so planning the funeral can be stressful. The person arranging the funeral is often under time pressure to make expensive decisions quickly, and generally agrees to the first price they were given.
Death is not an emergency. Take a moment to catch your breath and consider all the options. Ask the funeral provider for an itemised price list, and see if there's anything you don't want. Some items will be mandatory, for example, registration of death fees and transport, but things like flowers, newspaper notices, and high-end caskets are not.
If you aren't 100% happy with the components of the quote, talk to the funeral director about more affordable options. If they are unwilling to budge, shop around. You may be surprised to learn that it may be possible to transfer to another funeral home even after the deceased has been transported.
It can also help to have a person less emotionally connected to the deceased's immediate family, like an in-law or friend, make initial enquiries into funeral arrangements and prices. If they are not as vulnerable, they may be in a better position to ask questions, push back on expensive features, and request more affordable alternatives.
The new way to funeral
To combat these serious consumer concerns, Bare was established as the new way to funeral. Bare provides Australians with a simple, transparent and affordable funeral service option. Our mission is to empower Aussies to make more informed choices about end-of-life planning.
We’re a 100% independent, online funeral provider, supporting families to arrange tailored funerals that reflect how their person lived.
Bare is transparent with its customers, presenting Australians with an alternative and affordable end-of-life option to combat rising prices. Consumers pay only for what they want, not for extras they don’t need.
As Australia’s funeral services provider for the 21st Century, we’re enlightening Australians to understand that many traditional - and generally expensive - funeral elements are no longer necessary in modern society. Bare provides consumers more choice to create more personalised and befitting ways to farewell a deceased loved one - from traditional funeral service, a simple beachside ceremony or memorial hike, to something more extravagant like turning ashes into a fireworks display, or scattering from a hot air balloon.
By innovating the industry and listening to what consumers want from a final farewell, Bare is becoming a trusted partner to families at a difficult time in their lives. We have supported thousands of Australians to leave on their terms and we see this model as the evolution of Australia’s funeral industry.
We’ve combined empathy with technology to make end-of-life planning simple, affordable and personal for individuals and families.
You can even prepay your funeral and save your family from having to make these emotional decisions down the line.
So when it comes to farewelling a loved one, or planning ahead for your own final “going away party”, we want Australians to feel empowered to have everything they need, but nothing they don’t.
To learn more about Bare Prepaid, visit our website or give our award-winning customer care team a call on 1800 202 901.
At Bare, we understand that there isn't just one way to bid farewell to a loved one. That's why we provide two options: Bare Cremation, which is a simple and direct choice, and Bare Funerals, which offer flexibility to ensure that you can say your final goodbye in a way that feels right for both you and your loved one - whether that’s a more traditional funeral with a coffin in place, or a memorial style farewell after cremation.
If you’re unsure about what’s right for you and your family, our team is only ever a phone call away. For immediate or imminent cremation or funeral arrangements, please call 1800 071 176.
*Bare’s Funeral Beliefs and Values Study was conducted by Pure Profile in July 2021 and is nationally representative of a sample of 1,026 Australians aged 35 and over (general population).