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Thank you, SW Barratt

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Discover Low-Cost Funerals in 2024

Published: October 12, 2023

Traditionally low cost funerals were not heard of, saying goodbye to a cherished family member or friend often meant expensive funerals, demonstrating our profound love and respect for them. But as days pass, many are moving towards more budget-friendly options. These cost-effective choices allow us to pay tribute to our dear ones without straining our finances. Furthermore, they enable us to personalise the farewell and commemorate the person’s life more meaningfully. Sadly, many grieving families end up overspending on unnecessary services due to a lack of awareness about cost-effective options.

The funeral industry, dominated by a few large nationwide companies, often promotes additional services, from catering to elaborate coffins, contributing to inflated costs. This article delves into the factors influencing funeral expenses, guiding you toward choosing a low-cost funeral or the most affordable burial option to pay respects to your loved ones without the burden of excessive debt.

Are funeral expenses increasing?

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In the past decade, funeral expenses have surged. This alarming increase has pushed **one in five households to borrow money to cover funeral expenditures. Astonishingly, funeral expenses have continued to soar despite a roughly twenty percent rise in average UK wages during the same period and public outcry over escalating utility, petrol, and housing costs.

However, there’s a glimmer of hope amid this concerning trend. Alternative options like direct cremations are emerging, enabling individuals to craft unique memorials for their loved ones at considerably lower costs, offering a ray of light in the face of increasingly expensive funerals.

There are also direct funerals that mean basic, low-cost funerals, as they don’t involve the funeral ceremony.

Under direct funerals, the funeral director takes care of the deceased , offers a simple coffin, and organises a burial/cremation as per their choice. The funeral director also handles paperwork, meaning the customer input is low.

UK funeral expenses

Sunlife’s “Cost of Dying 2022” report sheds light on the expenses associated with funerals in the UK. In 2021, the average cost of dying, encompassing professional legal fees, flowers, newspaper notices, service sheets, gathering expenses, limousine hire, and funeral service, amounted to approximately £8,800. However, it’s important to note that funeral expenses can vary significantly depending on the event’s location. For example, conducting a funeral in London may entail higher costs.

In 2021 the type of funerals were split up as follows
57% Cremations
25% Burials
18% Direct Cremation

Pie chart

Breaking down the expenses, a basic funeral in the UK for 2021 averaged around £4,450. These costs covered the undertaker, burial or cremation, doctor’s fees, and the spokesperson for the service. Interestingly, this figure has seen a slight decline compared to 2020, partly attributed to changes in funeral practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the rise in popularity of more cost-effective direct cremations has contributed to this shift.

Although no-frills and devoid of traditional funeral services and mourners, direct cremations have become an affordable alternative. However, individuals concerned about funeral expenses may want to consider life insurance, which provides financial support to family members through monthly payments or a lump sum in the event of the policyholder’s passing. Specialist life insurance can also be purchased for pre-existing conditions.

Comparing cremation & burial expenses

It’s worth noting that cremations, particularly those involving full funeral services, tend to be more affordable than burials but costlier than direct cremations. Burials, on the other hand, remain the most expensive funeral option in the UK, encompassing a range of costs, including cemetery maintenance fees, headstone-related expenses, church fees, burial plot preparation charges, coffin costs, and fees for officiating ministers.

In contrast, direct cremations, the most budget-friendly choice, omit traditional funeral services. The deceased is transported directly to the crematory without a formal ceremony. However, families can hold a memorial service or gather later, making it a financially practical option. The expenses for direct cremations include a simple coffin, doctor’s fees for recording the death, body transportation and care, and costs associated with the disposition of cremated ashes.

Similarly, direct burials, which rarely occur, exclude formal ceremonies and mourners. They involve interment without specific dates or times but offer the possibility of holding a separate family gathering or memorial service later on. These low-cost funerals include expenses such as burial plot preparation charges, body transportation, and care, a simple coffin, and if desired, headstone-related costs and burial in a natural burial ground, remembrance garden, or cemetery.

Funeral director charges

Funeral directors play a crucial role in facilitating the arrangements for farewell ceremonies during challenging times. Their expertise and support extend to guiding the deceased’s family through the emotionally taxing process.

They play a vital role in overseeing every aspect of the funeral journey, from the initial planning to the event and its aftermath. Their duties encompass tending to the deceased’s remains, preparing them, and offering essential services such as limousines, hearses, and a coffin for the grieving family. Moreover, funeral directors can assist in organising additional elements such as service orders, floral arrangements, and music to personalise the ceremony.

When considering funeral expenses, it’s essential to acknowledge that funeral director charges constitute a significant portion of the overall costs, often accounting for more than half of the total expenditure. Currently, the average funeral director fees hover around £2,690. However, it’s worth noting that low-cost funeral directors offer more budget-friendly alternatives.

Third-party & optional expenses

Disbursement form

Disbursement/third-party fees constitute an integral part of funeral costs. The funeral director pays these fees to various third-party service providers on your behalf. Among these expenses, cremation and burial fees typically account for a significant portion. Also, third-party charges encompass essential services like placing a death notice in a local newspaper and processing the required doctor’s certificates.

Remember, the correct costs associated with external expenses and undertaker charges can vary significantly due to several elements, including where you are and the specific funeral arrangements you choose. To illustrate, in 2021, the average funeral expenses in London were around £5,350, whereas in Northern Ireland, they stood at approximately £3,050 for that year.

In addition to the fundamental funeral ceremony charges, you may incur optional expenses to make the send-off more personalised and meaningful. These optional costs can vary based on factors such as the venue type and your preferences for catering. They encompass various elements like memorial expenses, catering fees, venue rental charges, limousine hire fees, death, and funeral notice expenses, order service sheet costs, and expenses related to funeral flowers.

Factors that determining low cost funerals

Numerous key factors are pivotal in shaping your ability to organise a budget-friendly funeral that matches your financial constraints and personal wishes. Grasping these factors is essential for making well-informed choices during this emotionally trying period.

Location

Where you live plays a significant role in funeral costs. Densely populated urban areas in the UK tend to have higher burial costs. These cities have limited gravesites due to higher population density, which can lead to higher expenses. Extra charges, like embalming, might come into play if you require body transportation beyond the county’s borders. Conversely, rural regions typically present reduced burial expenses, thanks to their lower population density and more economical property values. However, it’s essential to note that rural areas may not always guarantee the lowest burial costs, as the popularity of natural burials can also affect pricing.

Choice of funeral director

The funeral director you select can significantly impact the overall cost of the funeral. Opting for low-cost undertakers who specialise in budget-friendly services will help reduce expenses. These professionals are experienced in conducting affordable funerals without compromising on quality. Alternatively, you can trim expenses by taking charge of the funeral arrangements yourself. However, be aware that this route can be time-intensive and demanding. If you lean towards a more straightforward, less customised service, there are various low-cost funeral packages to consider.

Comparison shopping

Being hasty in selecting a specific funeral ceremony without shopping around can lead to higher costs. Exploring different low-cost undertakers is advisable to find the best deals that suit your budget and preferences. Comparing the standardised price list from different undertakers can help you achieve a low-cost funeral without compromising quality.

Headstones

Headstones are often one of the major funeral costs. For many these very expensive headstones are often unaffordable. Lower-cost headstone providers offer memorials to individuals at a lower cost than many other providers.This can reduce the financial challenges of arranging a loved one’s final resting place. By reducing financial stress, these lower cost memorial providers allow families to focus on the emotional aspects of the funeral, helping closure during a difficult time.

Prepaid funeral plan

A prepaid funeral plan is valuable for achieving a low-cost funeral. With this plan, you make regular payments during your lifetime, and when you pass away, the company covers the expenses for your burial or cremation. A prepaid plan often lowers costs, as the locked-in price is typically more affordable than current pricing. If you don’t have a prepaid funeral plan, shopping around and comparing prices is crucial to finding the best funeral service deals that suit your needs and those of your loved ones.

Choice of coffin or urn

The type of coffin, casket, or urn you choose can significantly influence funeral costs. Purchasing a coffin from a funeral director is typically more expensive than buying one from a coffin supplier. Opting for lower-priced options, such as cardboard coffins that can be decorated, can lead to considerable savings and contribute to a low-cost funeral.

Funeral attendance

The number of people attending the funeral wake can affect overall expenses. Funeral costs are often determined based on the number of attendees. Fewer guests typically result in a cheaper funeral, as there are fewer individuals to provide food and drinks for. Moreover, if attendees arrange their transportation to the service, you can avoid the expense of hiring a funeral director’s limousine.

Timing and day of the service

The timing of the funeral service can also affect costs. Funerals in England typically take place between 9 am and 3 pm. Holding an early morning service tends to be more cost-effective than an afternoon one. Additionally, weekday funerals are generally more affordable than weekend services, so consider these factors when planning to keep costs low.

Remembrance goods

Finally, the choice of remembrance goods can impact the overall funeral expenses. These items can create a customised tribute that reflects your loved one’s legacy and way of life. Common remembrance goods include tribute videos, memorial items like candles, flowers and thumbprints, decorative keepsakes, personal displays, and stationery items like service bulletins and register books. 

Embalming

Embalming is an optional procedure that preserves the deceased’s body. While it may be necessary in specific cases, such as long delays before the funeral or for aesthetic reasons, evaluating whether embalming is essential for your loved one is important. Avoiding embalming when it’s not necessary will contribute to cost savings.

Vehicles

Consider using personal vehicles for transportation during the funeral. While traditional hearses and limousines are available through funeral directors, opting for personal vehicles can be a cost-effective alternative. Family members or friends can provide transportation, reducing expenses associated with professional vehicles.

Farewell wishes

When planning a low-cost funeral, it’s essential to consider the farewell wishes of the deceased and their family members. Reflect on the individual’s nature and preferences. If the deceased was not inclined toward religious or traditional ceremonies, explore alternatives such as direct cremation. This separation of cremation or burial from the funeral service allows family and friends to focus on celebrating the departed’s life. Use the saved funds to host a life celebration, wake, or personalised memorial.

Arranging a low-cost funeral is possible by carefully considering these factors and making informed choices that align with your preferences and budget. Crafting funeral arrangements that align with your loved one’s distinct personality and desires allows for a heartfelt and cost-effective farewell that genuinely pays tribute to their life.

Conclusion

In essence, the expense of a funeral is subject to numerous factors. With thoughtful contemplation and preparation, you can attain an economical funeral that suits your financial constraints and preferences. Whether you opt for a rural burial with a cardboard coffin or organise the funeral yourself, cost-saving opportunities exist. Costs can vary significantly, spanning from a modest £1,000 to £5,000 or potentially higher, contingent upon your choice of funeral package and the services you opt for.

Remember that low-cost funerals are gaining popularity, as demonstrated by the rise of affordable direct cremations. While navigating the arrangements for a loved one’s farewell can be emotionally challenging, informed decisions can alleviate financial burdens. Investigate funeral directors, consider prepaid funeral plans, and personalise the service to your requirements to ensure you receive the most value for your investment. These tactics allow you to manage funeral expenses, including burial or cremation while safeguarding your financial stability and offering a respectful goodbye to your dear ones.

** Source SunLife Cost of Dying Report

If you found this article interesting, and would like to learn more about how to save money on a funeral, locating quality low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

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