So, How Much Does A Funeral Cost?
In general, costs can be categorised into four types according to the religions in Malaysia – Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. Chinese funerals are usually at the higher end of the price range, considering how elaborate the ceremony can get as a result of the different branches of belief.
For example, the burial plot and entire funeral process for a Buddhist can cost around RM8,000 to RM15,000. This excludes the tombstone, casket, urn (if there is a cremation) and other additions. Meanwhile, the high-end ones would start at RM15,000 and it will increase even further as land space becomes scarce over time. For those who want to purchase a cremation niche in an established columbarium (which is a resting place for urns), the cost can hover around RM24,000.
That’s not all.
For more extravagant funerals that come with all the bells and whistles, the price tag is reported to be at RM150,000 or even more. This is because the entire ceremony can last about two to seven days.
Depending on the type of coffin used and how grand the funeral is, the cheapest package for a Christian’s funeral begins at RM5,000. Unlike Buddhists, there aren’t a lot of rituals associated with this religious group.
For those who practice Hinduism and Islam, they usually have much simpler funeral rites and prices that start from RM800 to RM2,000. For Hindus who prefer a memorial after the funeral, another RM2,000 to RM3,000 will be added to the total cost. Cremation is allowed for Hindus; public cremation services are available at about RM360 for adults, and RM200 for children and private cremation is RM8,600 and above.
A Muslim’s funeral is often more economical and all procedures are done with the help from the mosque, which is strategically located in most residential areas. Different mosques charge differently from RM800 to RM1,500.
The cost of funerals in Singapore have also been rising for the past decade or so. This is having a direct effect on the type of funerals people in Singapore choose to hold. Due to the larger population of Chinese residing in Singapore, their funerals can also be categorised based on the sub-ethnic groups such as Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, Hainan, and Teochew.
Depending on the respective religion and services chosen, the average cost of a funeral in Singapore is from SGD1,500 to SGD30,000 (roughly RM4,450 to RM89,000), lasting from 2 to 5 days. Cremation alone on the same day has a minimum charge of SGD1,000 (roughly around RM2,970).
Just like funerals held in Malaysia, the more grandiose the ritual is, the higher the rates can go, sometimes without a limit! Although the packaged services cost higher, they offer more convenience to family members.
Dying Cost: Which Is Much More Expensive - Malaysia or Singapore?
Nowadays, Malaysians try to decrease the amount spent on the deceased’s send-off. This has come as no surprise as the average household earns less than RM5,500, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia. This means that regardless of funeral rites, these families surviving in the middle-income range have come to the realisation that they don’t have the necessary budget for the high costs required.
In Singapore, a household median monthly income stands at SGD9,023 (roughly RM26,800). With a household income higher than that of their neighbours, it doesn’t mean that it’s easier for them to observe all funeral rites as their cost of dying is relatively higher as well.
How Do I Prepare Myself For This Unfortunate?
The most important thing to do is to purchase life insurance. A monthly basic life insurance premium can be as affordable as RM140 onwards, depending on your age, occupation, lifestyle and needs. A life insurance with dividends can help combat inflation so that the future value of the policy will be able to surpass the increasing funeral costs. It can also help to cover immediate expenses, if any, to reduce the heartache that family members face.
In addition, it’s advisable to make specific financial provisions in your will to pay for your funeral. You can also opt to put aside a specific amount of money in a separate account, or purchase “funeral insurance”, thereby ensuring that your loved ones are spared an extra layer of grief.
Are There Any Aids to Help Cover Funeral Cost?
Families will be able to find financial aid during their time of need through government aids and schemes. In Malaysia, schemes such as BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia), SMUE (Skim Mesra Usia Emas), EPF (The Employees Provident Fund), and PERKESO (Social Security Organization) death benefits, as well as survivor’s pensions are granted to the deceased’s family members so long as they meet the requirements.
Meanwhile, in Singapore, Muslims can pay in instalments through the Khairat Kematian Scheme offered by the government.
The Final Verdict
With the simplified comparisons above, it looks like Malaysians are blessed with a relatively lower cost of funeral arrangements, so long as one chooses the more moderate options. In addition, one’s mindset would also need to change in talking about and planning for death, funeral plans and final wishes – surely you wouldn’t want to put off till the last minute what is bound to happen anyway?
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