Save on funeral costs

John Deeks: It’s Mind Your Own Retirement. And as I mentioned to YourLIfeChoices editor Janelle Ward a little earlier in the program, sadly, my sister passed away, my elderly sister, some, uh, four weeks ago now. So this is something that’s a little close to my heart and I’m speaking to Cale Donovan, the cofounder of Bare Cremation. Welcome Cale.

Cale Donavan: Hi, John. How are you?

John Deeks: I’m well, I’m happy to say. But tell me, and I could go through the whole list, but I’d like you to explain to me what Bare Cremation is.

Cale Donavan: Yeah. So I mean, Bare Cremation offers a direct cremation service. And a direct cremation service is really a simple, elegant cremation that’s non attended that takes place separately from any sort of memorial ceremony.

John Deeks: What normal costs would one incur in a, I don’t know how would you call it, a standard cremation procedure?

Cale Donavan: The average cost of a funeral in Australia more broadly is around $8,000 currently. And so now our average service offering in Australia is around $1,800 so obviously substantially cheaper than traditional funerals.

John Deeks: So what am I not getting? As opposed to the $8,000 average.

Cale Donavan: Yeah. Yeah that’s a great question. So, as I mentioned a direct cremation service is, you know, think of it as the things that need to happen when someone does pass away. There are things like logistics and paperwork and other things, and then separately, there’s a memorial, which I think a lot of people associate with the funeral service where people attend. Funerals now are changing. Traditionally, those things like the logistics and the cremation and the memorial were really conflated together, and so they were bundled together all in one price in this overall funeral service. What we’re doing is really decoupling those two things so, we’re offering the direct cremation service. And really allowing the family or others to coordinate that memorial, which is really fitting and unique and personalised. So we take care of all the stuff that needs to happen and again, allow that sort of greenfield space for the family to organise a really fitting memorial.

John Deeks: Do you find that, during the Covid situation that we find ourselves in, that your services are more required?

Cale Donavan: Yeah, the popularity of direct cremation certainly is increasing. It’s been increasing rapidly over the last decade actually. I think Covid has really accelerated that and obviously we have social distancing restrictions and other measures that are in place. It’s really making people think about how they arrange a funeral and how they don’t have to necessarily have the cremation and the memorial in the same place at the same time all bundled together. They can actually do the cremation now, and then have some time to really think through what’s fitting, what’s unique for someone, and then plan that memorial at a later date. So Covid certainly accelerated it but it’s definitely a relatively popular thing to do already in Australia.

John Deeks: Yes. That’s something that has happened with our family, Cale because the kids are spread all around the world. I’m speaking of my sister passing away and her kids are all around the world. Once the situation allows more people to come together, there will be a group memorial for her, although she has already been cremated. Do people feel some guilt at trying to keep funeral costs down Cale? How do you work through the education process?

Cale Donavan: I think the reality is right now, many people do. Again, there’s historically been this implied relationship between how much you spend and then how much you love someone. And it’s really, really important that we move away from this idea. Like the most important thing about the arrangement of a funeral and a memorial is that that person’s really honoured and celebrated right? In a personalised way, the way that they would want. And so that doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. It’s really why we started the business, we wanted to make the cremation part of this really affordable, transparent, and try and take as much stress off people, so they can focus on the important part which is how they’re remembered. Interestingly, now, a lot of people are prepaying. When we talk to them about that actually the main reason for doing it is not cost. It’s actually more about the alleviation of stress on their family. It’s really empowering. Right? Having a plan and sort of coordinating it, paying for it. And then also the price does come into it. Having some additional funds to be able to spend on the grandkids first car or blow it themselves on an amazing holiday. That’s where the money should be going – not to over bloated funeral costs.

John Deeks: We’ll give out your website shortly, but just last question. Lead me through this in a nice, simple way so everyone can understand it. A loved one passes away. Where do you come in?

Cale Donavan: Yeah, so when someone does pass away, we get contacted immediately, and then we straightaway go and collect from wherever that person has passed. That can be any time, day or night, from any location. We then take your loved one into our care and we prepare them for the cremation. There’s actually a number of documents that need to be completed, so we step through that process and make that as seamless as possible. We then perform the cremation and return the ashes back to the family. All in a very seamless, supported way that typically takes around seven days.

John Deeks: And as you say, it feels awful putting a cost on all these things but, where a normal cremation may cost, and funeral itself, up around the average $8,000, Bare Cremation, talking about $1800.

Cale Donavan: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it was really important to us. We, again, we started the business on the back of personal experience and we found that when we did arrange funerals, it was overpriced. We found it was really not what we wanted overall, and the process felt really stressful. So we started the business to alleviate some of those problems, or hopefully all of those problems, and to make the family feel really supported, and make the process as seamless as possible, but ultimately not pass on any cost to the families as part of that.

John Deeks: How can our members of YourLifeChoices get in touch with you, Cale?

Cale Donavan: Yeah, sure. So they can call us anytime on 1-800-202-901 or freely visit the website,

John Deeks: Cale Donovan, the co-founder of Bare Cremation. Thank you so much for giving up your time today and, good luck into the future in a very delicate subject. And I hope we’ve covered all the issues. Take care.

Cale Donavan: My pleasure. Thanks John.

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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