Currently averaging an eye watering £4,086, funeral prices have been rising way above the rate of inflation for the last 14 years. What’s more, independent research suggests that if similar rises continue, this figure could quite easily rise to an eye watering £11,809 in 20 years times; which is why it is becoming increasingly important to understand how to save money on funeral costs.
Arranging a funeral however is something hopefully most of us will only have to do once or twice in our lives, which makes it a completely different ball game, even to those savvy savers out there who were born to sniff out a bargain.
So whether you are in the process of looking at ways to save money on arranging a funeral for someone close to you or thinking about your own funeral costs, here are some tips that may help you along the way.
Choose Cremation rather than Burial
A burial funeral service is roughly £1,000 more expensive than cremation, which is probably way around 80% of us Brits choose to be cremated. The average cost across the UK for burial is currently £4,561 compared to £3,596 for cremation however costs do vary depending on where you live.
Or consider a woodland burial
If you prefer burial, then in addition to looking at burial plot prices and interment fees at your local cemetery, it may also be worth looking into costs at your closest woodland burial sites, as they can be cheaper. Again it all depends on where you live.
Woodland burial or natural burial sites as they are also known usually have a range of plot prices which vary depending on where in the burial site they are situated. Do keep in mind though that all woodland burial sites will have strict rules as to the material the coffin is made out of as it will have to be an eco coffin and fully biodegradable.
Look at the time of the funeral
Many crematoriums offer cheaper rates for funeral services that are held either earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Basically as many families prefer to arrange funerals a little later in the day to allow time for people travelling, Crematoriums are usually quieter at either end of the day and therefore can be cheaper.
Choose a cheaper Coffin
There are many options for coffins these days from wood to wicker, bamboo to cardboard. Price can vary too so it’s important to think about how much you want to pay. We find that when people arrange their own funeral in advance, the quality of the coffin is quite often not of importance as to quote many of our customers ‘ it’s only going to get burnt so what is the point of wasting money on an expensive coffin’.
When it comes to families arranging a funeral however, quite often a ‘no expense spared’, ‘money is no object’ approach is adopted out of what may be considered as misguided loyalty and respect to the person that has died.
Cheap coffins do not necessarily mean bad coffins so don’t be embarrassed to look at the range available and choose according to your budget.
You can even source your own coffin on the internet which can be much cheaper but be sure to check that the funeral director is happy to use it before going down this route.
Say no to embalming
With our improved facilities, embalming which is the method funeral directors use to preserve the body is not a requirement these days; so unless there is a sound reason for doing it, don’t include it as part of your funeral arrangements.
Use your own transport instead of limousines
Whilst a cortege with hearse and limousines is an all too familiar sight on our roads, families these days often have access to cars, so don’t opt for a limousine if you don’t need one.
In addition often unless you can get all the family members in the limousine (typically made to carry 6 people) such as the children, spouses, grandchildren etc, only a couple of people may end up using the car as the rest prefer to use their own transport so they can be together. So if there are no limousines, there will be no difficult decisions about who should travel in them.
Use family members to carry the coffin
When you get a breakdown for services and funeral costs from your funeral director, there is usually an additional fee for the use of pallbearers, who are the people that carry the coffin. By asking friends or relatives to take over the pallbearer’s role, it may in turn help towards reducing the cost of the funeral.
Have the wake or reception at home
Most funerals end with a reception or wake after the service where friends and family can meet, reminisce and have something to eat and drink before leaving for home. Prices for venues such as pubs, halls or hotels can be expensive and that’s before you factor in the catering costs. By arranging the gathering at home instead and perhaps sharing the responsibility of catering amongst the family, both the cost and the work required to get everything prepared will be reduced.
Choose a prepaid funeral plan
As funeral costs continue to rise at such an alarming rate, putting plans in place yourself in advance to remove the financial and emotional worry from the family is important; which is where prepaid funeral plans comes in.
A prepaid funeral plan lets you arrange and pay for your funeral in advance at today’s’ prices, so you avoid future inflation whilst saving your family from the upset of having to make and pay for all of the funeral arrangements.
In addition, with a prepaid funeral plan you get to choose the type of funeral service you want, so your family won’t spend money on services you wouldn’t want, like expensive coffins and limousines.
Many funeral plan providers these days also offer simple funeral plans, which at around £3,000 are a few hundred pounds cheaper than the usual funeral plan offerings. They normally have certain restrictions like the quality of the coffin or times of the funeral service but may suit those who just want a simple funeral service.
Do read the small print though to ensure the services you require are included and guaranteed, as it could be a false economy if your family are left with more to pay when the time comes.
Consider direct cremation
With prices around £1,500, direct cremation also often referred to as a direct funeral is a relatively new option that can appeal to those wanting to save money on funeral costs.
A direct cremation is simply the cremation process without a funeral service, so no family or friends in attendance. The company organising the direct funeral arranges for the person who has died to be collected; completes all the paperwork that is legally required and then arranges the cremation. The family can then choose to have the ashes scattered in a garden of remembrance or returned to them to keep, bury or scatter.
Although cremation without a service appeals to those looking to cut costs, many people choose this option because they don’t like the upset and fuss of a traditional funeral service at the crematorium and would rather give the family the flexibility and freedom to ‘say goodbye’ their own way, be that a family gathering when the ashes are being scattered or a drink in the local pub.
In addition to arranging a direct cremation for someone who has just died, you can now also buy direct cremation funeral plans, so you can arrange and pay for everything yourself, again avoiding future inflation.
Review the funeral directors costs
Much is being done to make the prices a funeral director charges more transparent, so hopefully your chosen company will have a list of costs you can review. If not, don’t be afraid to ask. In everyday life you don’t generally buy something without first knowing the price, so don’t let arranging a funeral be any different.
The key here is to remember that although funeral directors in general do a sterling job, they are still running a business and therefore need to make a profit. Most will help you arrange the funeral service that you want within your budget but if they are not upfront and open about their costs, choose another funeral director.
It’s easy to say you should compare funeral costs before committing but shopping around at the time of need is something most families are reluctant to do; either because it is too upsetting or feels in some way disrespectful.
If you are able to at least speak to two or three funeral directors or get recommendations from people who have used their services, it could save you money in the long run.
Better still, to help your family avoid the dilemma and upset of comparing funeral costs, do it yourself. This quite understandable aversion to shopping around at the time of need is another good reason for arranging everything in advance with a prepaid funeral plan. You can spend time reviewing what’s on offer and comparing funeral plans yourself, so you can be certain your family won’t have the financial burden.
At the end of the day you only get one go at arranging a funeral, there is no rehearsal. Of course you want to say goodbye in a fitting way but this shouldn’t mean going into debt to do so. We all prefer to pay the lowest price for things, be it a holiday or a TV; so why should a funeral be any different? Shouldn’t we all want to know how to save money on funeral costs?