Weird Budget Question: Is pre-Planning your Funeral Necessary?

I apologize beforehand if this topic is more ‘morbid’ than my usual post, but being that a blog is a place for me to lay my thoughts, it seemed appropriate.

Recently, I was watching an episode of “Extreme Cheapskates”, my newest embarrassing guilty pleasure. Since I’m also a frequent blogger at All the Frugal Ladies, it should be no surprise to anyone that I’m extremely frugal in my spending – just not to the obscene (but most likely fake) nature of the people displayed in the show.

I DON’T believe the show is representative of the lives of true cheapskates (I mean, really, how come all these ‘cheapskates’ have massive, expense-hungry houses with pools and gardens, but they ‘save’ pennies on cotton balls?). However, the show does actually get me thinking about my own expenses and lifestyle and how I could be more mindful about my spending.

There was one scene in particular that opened my eyes in season 2 when two parents were looking to handle all their funeral costs long before their death, to ensure that their children or partner wouldn’t be left in a situation of taking on a huge financial burden upon their death. If there’s one thing I don’t think about, it’s what happens to my family financially if – God forbid – something happens to me.

And so this ridiculous reality show had me thinking about the costs of a funeral, whether mine or any other direct relative (tu-tu-tu knocking on wood). For starters, to purchase granite headstones (or any other type of headstone), the investment is not nearly as expensive as the show had me think. Heck, I’m frugal but I can invest a few hundred pounds for a headstone out of respect and love for my family.

Second, there’s the issue of the casket. Thankfully, that’s not an expense I need to consider as, in Judaic tradition, burials are done without a casket. Rather, the body is covered with cloth and placed within the plot. So financially speaking, I’m covered as far as the casket, which tends to be one of the most expensive parts of a burial. There is also no need for concern over expenses regarding embalming or funeral make-up; it’s not a part of our tradition.

Next, there’s the plot. The couple in the video managed to get an awesome deal by making odd requests. Unfortunately, land for burial is pricey, so this is something that I’m not sure how to approach. Land prices are consistently going up – maybe it would be wise to consider already where our burial will be and purchase the plots now, long before the price increases another 70%.

My grandma and grandpa did this as a younger couple, buying two plots of land side by side for a fraction of the going price today. Thanks to their thoughtfulness, when they passed away, my parents (who were in a bad financial situation at the time) did not go further in debt.

A part of me thinks – it’s 2015. Prices will go up. Whatever I get now will be a fraction of the price of what it will be worth in the future. The other part of me thinks: it’s money I’m giving away for the future, money that I may need in the present for bills, rent, studies… it’s not an easy thing to give up.

Given that I have been living in Israel for the past few years, if the burials were to take place in the country, they would be fully covered by National Insurance (almost everything would be free of charge – the plot, transportation, service, etc.). However, this would imply that all my family and I would have to live and stay in the country permanently. Frugality aside, I don’t know if I’m willing to do that.

To sum it up, one ridiculous reality show episode has my mind spinning about something no one wants to ponder. But the idea that I could leave my family in a bad situation makes me feel far worse.

I know it’s a tough subject, but I invite you to guide me if you have any experience. Have you prepared for these costs? Have other family members? Have you ever organized a funeral? If so, how much did it set you back and what would you have done differently from a financial standpoint?