Nobody likes to talk about death or funerals and talking about the cost of funerals is even less appealing. But like it or not, it is something that all of us will have to consider at some point, and the more you prepare, the more you can save.
Talking about your wishes for your own funeral will not only make it easier for loved ones to give you the send-off you’d want but will also ensure that they don’t spend money on things that aren’t important to you. Here are some of the options for cheap funerals below to help you decide what is worth the money and what could be a cost-saving.
Choose Cheap Funeral Flowers
Funeral flowers are a tradition that dates back centuries, and many feel obligated to splash out on elaborate arrangements to give their loved one a proper send off. But with many suppliers charging hundreds of pounds for a single tribute or casket spray, you might find that your loved ones feel obligated to spend excessive amounts on something that’s really not important to you.
Asking funeral-attendees to make small donations to charity instead is now popular with those that don’t want flowers at their funeral. Fairy lights, candles and framed photographs are also effective alternatives to funeral flowers, and (with the exception of the photographs themselves) can be picked up in pound shops, although you will need to check with the venue that this will be allowed.
If you have your heart set on flowers but don’t want your family to spend a fortune on them then consider requesting a low cost flower such as sunflowers or carnations, and request bouquets rather than funeral wreaths or sprays. Seasonal flowers also tend to cost less, so you could give your family multiple ideas for flowers you love or a certain colour that they can choose from depending on the season.
An Affordable Cremation
What happens to your body is possibly one of the most important aspects of your funeral, and a choice that you should feel comfortable spending your money on to get the service you want. That being said, if you’ve carried out thorough research and thought carefully about your wishes but still have no clear preference, then it is worth acknowledging that cremation is often a less expensive alternative to burials.
Direct cremations have also become a popular option for people who value the memorial over the funeral service itself, and received a bit of press after David Bowie had one in 2016. A direct cremation means that the body will be cremated out of hours with no mourners present, for a much smaller fee. The family often holds a large memorial service instead of a funeral, investing time and money into celebrating the person’s life rather than the ceremony of a funeral.
Buying a Burial Plot
Where you decide to be buried can have a big impact on whether a low cost funeral is possible. Unsurprisingly, city plots tend to be more expensive than rural areas, and in 2017 London was named as the most expensive place in the UK to be buried. But before you start considering a countryside resting place instead, bear in mind that non-residents may be charged a lot more than locals and so you may not be any better off financially.
Not everyone knows that you don’t actually have to be buried in a cemetery. Natural burials are available in woodland across the UK, and burials on private land (e.g. in your garden) are also legal if certain health and safety regulations and permissions are adhered to. Both of these can be a cost-saving approach but require a lot of research to ensure that your final resting place is right for you.
There’s nothing to stop you researching and even purchasing your burial plot years before you will ever need it, so don’t be afraid to make a decision early so that you and your loved ones don’t need to budget for a plot in the future.
Low Cost Grave Markers
Upright headstones are what most of us picture when we think of a grave marker, but they can cost in the thousands, especially if you add decorative features. Flat headstones, on the other hand, still provide the space to honour a loved one with a message of remembrance but with a much more reasonable cost.
The options available to you will depend of where the grave is located. Many natural burial grounds will not allow a plaque or headstone at all, for example, but you may be permitted to leave a stone pebble or to plant a tree. Cemeteries will have rules in place about what can be used to mark a grave and sometimes even which companies you can purchase from, so be sure to consider this when choosing a burial plot.
Cheaper Coffin Options
Often people are under the impression that a wooden coffin is the only option for a funeral, but in fact there are lots of different materials available and legally you don’t have to use a coffin at all.
Shrouds have been used for burials for centuries and are commonly used in some religious burials, but they have also been praised recently for their eco-friendliness, making them a popular choice for green funerals. A shroud is worth considering simply for its more natural and environmentally-friendly appeal, but it is also likely to be much less costly than a coffin too.
If a shroud isn’t for you then cardboard coffins also have environmental benefits and can be bought for as little as £100. Many coffin providers will also give you the option to customise cardboard coffins with artwork or pictures for a more personal design, although it’s worth checking that these meet crematorium regulations if you are opting for cremation.
Plan a Low Maintenance Wake
The wake is simply a chance for those left behind to share memories and comfort each other after the funeral, but some family members feel under high pressure to put on a good spread to impress family members they haven’t seen in a while. If you’re worried that costs might get out of hand then it’s worth making it clear that you wouldn’t expect anything extravagant, to avoid those difficult “is this what they would’ve wanted…” discussions.
Traditionally a wake would be held in the house of the deceased or in a relative’s house, but if guest numbers are high or you simply don’t have the space to host then hiring a venue might be necessary. Pubs, hotels and church halls are popular choices but if the weather is nice then you might save money by planning an outside event at a local park, woodland or beach. Just be sure to check whether you need permission first if the number of guests is high.
Food and drink can be costly but don’t forget that loved ones will rally around during difficult times and you will be told “if there’s anything you need…” multiple times. Take them up on the offer and ask them to bring something for guests to nibble on at the wake. Most friends and family genuinely want to do something to help and will be glad to have something to contribute.
Save Money with a Funeral Plan
Funeral costs are an unwelcome stress at a time when your family is grieving, and so many people try to keep some of their savings aside to help out with the costs of a proper send-off. However, with funeral costs rising year after year, it’s unlikely that the interest on your savings will be able to keep up. A funeral plan allows you to freeze costs at today’s rates so that you don’t have to worry about prices creeping up faster than you can afford to pay.
By paying into a funeral plan, you’ll ensure that the funds are available when your family needs them, and that your wishes are clearly expressed in advance. Age Co Funeral Plans start as low as £2,770 (includes discount) and cover many of the high-cost expenses, including the Funeral Director’s fees, a coffin, a hearse, the cremation fee (if applicable) and more. A funeral plan can help ensure you are able to plan your funeral based on personal preferences and not financial constraints
Find out more about what a pre-paid funeral plan is and whether it could help you and your family by requesting a free guide on Age Co Funeral Plans to read at home.