This Is Why a Funeral Can Ruin Your Bank Balance

Flowers at funeral service, paid for with the help of funeral cover

South Africa has some of the highest funeral costs in the world. Know what your loved ones might need to pay for when you pass on and what your funeral policies cover so that they're not caught by surprise during their time of grief.


South Africans spend a lot of time worrying about the cost of living, but according to a new report, we should be more concerned about the cost of dying. The survey found last year that the cost of funerals in South African is, on average, the fourth highest in the world.


The COVID-19 pandemic has only made that worse. Some local funeral parlours were found to be raising burial and cremation prices by as much as 25% in the early months of the pandemic, with some local municipalities also introducing extra cemetery charges.


Read more: Average Funeral Costs in South Africa


Don't let an unexpected funeral sink you


A funeral can be a big financial burden if you aren't expecting it, or if your late loved one hasn't made provision for it. Depending on your family tradition or custom, the costs could pile up very quickly.


MiWay warns that, on average, South Africans need between R23,500 and R86,000 to shoulder funeral costs. "And this is just the tip of the iceberg since these prices do not include the costs of catering, flowers, tombstones and transporting of the body," they say.


Let's break down those costs...


Funeral-parlour fees can be anywhere from R5,000 to R10,000. Those costs cover the safekeeping of the body, as well as funeral preparations and transportation of the body, and could likely be more if the body has to be transported out of the country.


Whether you're looking at burial or cremation, you'll need a casket. Prices vary depending on the one you choose, of course, but range from about R6,000 to as much as R50,000 or more.


If you decide on a burial, you need to factor in the cost of digging a grave, and depending on your local municipality, you can expect to pay anywhere from R1,000 to R6,000. Cremation is cheaper, at about R5,000, but some extra costs could creep in if you want to have the ashes interred in specific ceremonial areas, for example.


You also have to consider the cost of catering, flowers and hiring an official to conduct the funeral – all of which could add thousands to the bill.


The heavy cost of tombstones


Tombstones are a sombre example of runaway funeral costs. If you choose burial instead of cremation, you'll need to set a concrete foundation (R4,500) to prevent the tombstone from sinking into the grave. Then you'll need brickwork (R3,500) on top of that, and possibly a granite covering (R2,200) too.


A fancy tombstone can easily cost up to R65,000 and a full-body gravestone can set you back R85,000.


Funeral cover ensures you don't have to pay these costs out of your pocket


Insurance cover can sometimes feel like a grudge purchase, but one you do need to consider. After all, you don't want to leave your loved ones scratching around for funds to cover costs while they're mourning your death.'s funeral insurance quotes comparison tool lets you compare cover in four price ranges: R15,000 to R20,000; R30,000 to R40,000; R50,000 to R60,000; and R70,000 to R80,000. A quick tally of the costs we've listed here suggests that it's wise to go for more cover than you expect to need – especially at a time when funeral costs are climbing.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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