Frugal Funeral

No, don’t worry, we have no plans for a frugal funeral any time soon. Nor do we anticipate to have one in the near future for ourselves (and hopefully also not for our family and/or friends). On the contrary, we try to follow a very healthy lifestyle with lots of whole plant-based foods to extent our lives and delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

But I (Mr. CF) did have a conversation with my mom about the topic of caskets. I have absolutely no idea how we got to the topic, but we were probably joking around and arrived at a morbid end (pun intended). That is also when I realized that I have no idea about funeral costs and/or funeral insurances. Is it possible to have a frugal funeral? If so, how much is it? Or is it better to insure or self-insure yourself for this? Time to find out!

Frugal Funeral

Ok, let’s keep this simple for the post: you can either get buried or cremated. Cremation is generally cheaper than burials due to the costs for the crave (you pay the municipality for this) and the tombstone.

Frugal Funeral
Frugal Funeral: the tombstone

But what are the general costs? Here is a list to consider (derived from the website of a national Dutch insurer):

  • Basic fees and administration: €1.800-1.900
  • Moving the body to the funeral home: €300
  • Embalming the body: €200
  • Wake/viewings: €700-1.000
  • Casket: €500-5.000 (or more if you want, check out this link for some interesting ideas)
  • Cremation (you’d really be on FIRE…. Ok, bad pun): €1.350-1.500
  • Burial: €1.350-7.000!! Depends heavily on a municipality and if you want a private/two person grave and for how long you want the grave to remain (prices are usually for 15-20 years).
  • Transport: €300-1.000 (depending on type and people)
  • Ceremony (incl. catering for 50): €250-400
  • Flowers (normal): €185-225
  • Ads in newspaper: €500-700
  • Cards: €160 per 50 cards
  • Urn for ashes: €500

Depending on what you want, you can easily spend between €7.500-10.000. We have actually done our wedding and honeymoon to Hawaii for less! But if you want you can keep it pretty simple, arrange your own casket, transport, ceremony, etc. You probably could get away with anything between about €2.500 and €3.500 for a decent funeral. However, there are even discount funeral arrangements these days. The cheapest I found was just €1.150 for a cremation and €1.750 for a burial! But that is really bare bones!

Frugal Funeral
Frugal Funeral: the casket

Funeral Insurance

As with pretty much everything else in life, you can also insure for funerals. I personally don’t know anyone that has insurance for this. We personally don’t have it either. It’s one of these things we rather self-insure, as we recon is cheaper. But if you would, how much would it be?

For my case, being 36 year of age, I had the following options:

  • Luxury package: €12.62/month – €12.100 coverage
  • Most purchased package: €9.54/month – €8.800 coverage
  • Basis package: €6.46 – €5.500 coverage
  • Frugal option (selected by me): €5.73 – €4.290 coverage

If I would be 30 years older (so 66 year of age), the following rates apply:

  • Luxury package: €56.01/month – €12.100 coverage
  • Most purchased package: €41.43/month – €8.800 coverage
  • Basis package: €26.85 – €5.500 coverage
  • Frugal option (selected by me): €23.40 – €4.290 coverage

If you wonder what’s in the frugal option, only the absolute basics. No reception, flowers, cards, paper ads, special transport, etc. If covers the basic formal/administrative costs and has a simple casket and cremation without an urn.

Frugal Funeral Investments

Let’s assume I’m turning 86 years of age (random selection). In that case the frugal option would set me back €3.438 in fees. Pretty good for the coverage I’m getting. For the 66 year old me, it would be €5.616, so you’re getting screwed. However, for the current me it seem like a good idea, right? Wrong!

If you set aside and invest this €5.73 every month, and you assume net 5% on a yearly basis (to correct for taxes and inflation), over 50 years. You end up with close to €14.400! That is one very luxurious funeral arrangement. However, if you would start at age 66 and have only 20 years, the calculation comes to just over €8.100. Again, much better than the coverage you are getting. You have got to love the effects of compounding interest!

Taboo Diner Talks

As with the whole topic of organ donations, talking about your funeral wishes with your partner/family is probably not a bad idea. It may still be far off (hopefully), but unfortunate things do happen. It would be great for your partner/family to have an idea of what you want.

Frugal Funeral
Frugal Funeral: the talks

To be brutally honest, we have not had this conversation, but probably should in the near future (together with arranging a will). Just to get is sorted for now (ideas will likely change in the future, but at least you would have a starting point…). Interestingly enough I do now know what to arrange for my mom. She even said she will leave some money for it too (she does not carry insurance).

My dad is also still alive, but there is a very large change that he will pass away before my mom does (he’s significantly older), in which case she will take care of these decisions. That being said, we already have an idea of what my dad would want too (again, no insurance here either).

How about you, ever thought of this? Do you agree it’s better to self-insure? Other considerations?



  1. Weird as it may sound, discussing this with your partner or parents is in fact useful. Not that i have done it already…
    I just have seen a few cases and it helps a lot.

  2. Interesting taboo topic.

    I notice a lot of people like to be over-assured. Insurances for this, that, … just in case, you know. No, I don’t know and I don’t get it. The money you lose can’t compound so you’re better off without. Just pay the bill when shit hits the fan.

    “I Am an Old Man and Have Known a Great Many Troubles, But Most of Them Never Happened”. It’s a quote of which the author is uncertain, yet it represents a great truth in my opinion.

    1. That quote is pretty cool actually. Generally speaking we would agree to pay the bill when it comes. Except for some notable exceptions

  3. Mrs has an insurance for years, which she would like to keep for some reason I do not understand (it is irrational anyhow because she has much more than enough money to be burried, but that doesn’t make it less valid). I have never and will never have one. I can be burried many times with my savings, so good luck for my heirs and enjoy the inheritance.

    1. We are of the same opinion as you, there should be more then sufficient funds to cremate either of us. No need for an insurance here.

  4. It is the same with a lot of other insurances: it is a lot cheaper to save (or better: invest) the money yourself. I am lucky on this case: when I was young my parents more or less forbid me to get a funeral insurance for as long as they lived. They thought it was a waste of money and said they would pay my funeral from their savings.

    They are still alive. And by now I have enough money in my savingsaccount for my own funeral. The advantage is that you can always get an insurance if you don’t have one. But when you already have one, you will always lose money if you don’t keep it till death…

    1. Fair points! Actually discovered today that my colleague has a funeral insurance and a lot at that! About €500 a year for him and his wife. Ouch….but he is now to late to turn things around. Glad you parents were smart 🙂

  5. I’ve never talked about this in my family. I just sort of doesn’t feel right.
    On the other hand, I don’t think I want to be buried when I die. I’d rather be cremated and have my ashes scattered into the ocean. Dust to dust amen.

    1. Uncomfortable as it may be, it is kind of inevitable and probably good to discus at some point. Keeping thing light and funny do help.
      We also favour cremation, at least we will finally be on FIRE (sorry, bad joke, could not help myself), not sure where the ashes should go. Have some ideas though. Like your idea of the ocean.

  6. Nice analysis! I once did a calculation of the return on investment of a funeral insurance (in dutch), see here.

    The ironic thing of a funeral insurance is that you “insure yourself against dying young”, because you pay off the risk you die young without having enough time to save money for the funeral. However, a pension does the opposite: you insure yourself against getting old, because a pension prevents you from running out of money when you get very old.
    So with a pension and a funeral insurance, you cover two risks that cancel out eachother:-)

    1. Hello GIT, just had a quick look at your post. Great overview, love the comment also by Dela on your post. 3-6% unrealistic, ha, don’t think so! Very good comment back by yourself too. As with all insurance, it’s a risk management tool. If you are risk averse or if the risk cannot be self-insured, it may very well be a good idea. But if you can accept some risk and invest the money yourself, you are likely better off is the majority of circumstances. And as you point out already, your “pension/FIRE” and funeral insurance do indeed cancel each other out.

  7. I was 18 and my bank lured me into getting one. Young and naive I got one. But then again, as a 18-year old, the rates were pretty cheap. But then again, I was guilt tripped by my mother who was at the decision at the time (and let me tell you, she has got some very, very serious money issues). I also have an aunt who has two policies: one in money, one in natura (WTF?).

    I also happen to recall a story about a guy who didn’t believe in (paying for) funerals, so he had nothing to pay his funeral. He was a real asshole, so his kids were not amused to pay for his funeral. They tried to get the municipality to pay for it, but no luck.

    You could also donate your body to science. That is by far the most cheapest option. The university/hospital will then cremate your body.

    1. Funny you mention that last option of donating your body to science. The Mrs. noted the same thing when we discussed the post. It’s kind of a win win, you potentially help people in the future and there is a financial win as well. Something to consider!
      Can you can still get out of your insurance?

  8. Funeral insurance is indeed legalized robbery, in my opinion. However, if you do not have the necessary discipline to save a minor amount by yourself every month, it may be the only way to build up the necessary sum.
    We have had the ‘necessary conversation’. Will was arranged before we left for our most recent expat tour. And we both have a separate document with practical information to access online accounts and things like wishes for funeral arrangements.

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