Around 85% of people’s debt problems start with a death in the family.
As the cost of living in South Africa rises, more and more South Africans struggle to make ends meet and fall into debt. With so many expenses, such as a bond, electricity costs, school fees, food, transportation, a phone, and so many more bills to pay, no wonder saving money these days sounds like science fiction.
It will probably shock you to know that 85% of South Africans’ debt problems start with a death in the family. Let’s face it; we are all going to die one day, this is the way of life! The question is, have you done enough to secure your family’s financial future if a family member passes away?
The cost of death in families is plunging, and many middle to lower-income earners get into debt spirals from which they can’t escape.
The AIDS crisis has changed the mortality pattern in Southern Africa, with life expectancy among women falling by 12 years and men by 14 years. The increased mortality rate of economically active South Africans is a major cause of financial pressure around funerals. Households that bury members who die in middle age may find themselves less able to build longer-term financial stability to finance schooling and even to provide adequate nutrition and a healthy environment within which to raise children.
On average, the cost of burial is estimated to be between R30 000 and R50 000, but with the rising cost of living, burial could increase substantially. If an adult member of the family passes away, the funeral has to be in line with his position within his family and culture. Taking into account looking after the dependents, the funeral arrangements, the expatriation of the body, buying a coffin, catering, hiring a tent, purchasing a tombstone, fuel and travel expenses for the family, electricity, and phones used when preparing for a funeral, those costs can be as high as R80 000.
Katie, a domestic worker in Cape Town, found herself not only responsible for burying her brother, but also for raising his two children. She was forced to find R12 000 to transport his body home – most of this obtained through loans. So, in addition to now being financially responsible for his two young children, she also had to find the funds to repay the loan.
Bear in mind that even in a case where the deceased was wealthy, had money or assets, the estate will freeze it all, and it will take months and even years to disburse it to its beneficiaries. Unfortunately, most people have no choice but to borrow money at high interest from loan providers to pay for the funeral costs. With the recent credit rating downgrade to junk status by the rating agency, these loans will be much harder to obtain and more expensive in the very near future.
Taking into account the costs and for your own peace of mind, taking out funeral cover may be the best way to ensure your loved ones have a dignified funeral without worrying about how you will pay for it.