Ways to reduce the cost of your funeral bill

Ways to reduce the cost of your funeral bill

A funeral can incur a long list of arrangements. With costs in the thousands, some people may struggle to fund it. There’s nothing to stop you from arranging the funeral yourself to keep costs to a minimum, but the majority of us choose to use the services of a funeral director.  Here are more than a few simple ideas that could make all the difference.


1. Cremation
Ask your funeral director for costs from at least two or three crematoria. Fees can vary by an average £250 in the same locality.  Some also offer reduced fees for early morning or late afternoon services on certain days of the week.

Bear in mind that if you choose a crematorium that is not so local, the funeral director may make an additional charge for time and mileage in excess of their usual allowance.

You might also want to consider a Direct Cremation service, where there is no funeral service and no mourners present.  Cost saving on a traditional cremation service is around 60% (£1,920).   The cremation will take place at a location and on a date and time that’s suitable for the funeral director.  The ashes can either be scattered at the crematorium or returned to you.  You could perhaps choose to spend the savings on a memorial service or reception at a later date in your own home, on a hill, on a beach  …

Average cost saving for cremation over burial – just under £1,000 (£965*)  


2. Coffin
Choosing the right coffin will ensure you get the right price for your budget. Don’t assume that a cardboard coffin is the least expensive.  Wood effect coffins with plain sides and flat lids can sometimes turn out to be the most affordable.

Your funeral director may be able to offer a coffin cover for hire.  This is where a less expensive coffin is placed inside the coffin cover and when the funeral service is over and the mourners have left, the coffin cover is removed for re-hire. The coffin cover has the look of a high-end coffin, but without a high-end price.

If the funeral director hasn’t got a coffin on their price list or in the catalogue/showroom that you like the look of or that fits within budget, ask them to shop around.

Average cost of a basic wood effect coffin – £315.   You could also consider a shroud instead at an average cost of £150.


3. Coffin Bearers
Some funeral directors will reduce their fee where family and friends choose to carry the coffin.  Some funeral directors will want to have their own bearers at the service so there won’t be a reduction in cost.  This is to ensure the backup support is there should it be needed.  It’s worth asking though.

Average cost saving – £35 per bearer


4. Hearse
Forgo the traditional hearse in favour of the funeral director’s lower-cost alternative, such as an estate car or a private ambulance.  You can also ask the funeral director for a ‘pre-placement’ service, which is where they will deliver the coffin to the place of cremation or burial and remove the vehicle from sight before the mourners arrive.

Or why not use or hire your own vehicle instead.

Average cost saving of a traditional hearse – £300  

Average cost saving of an estate car or private ambulance – £150


5. Limousine (‘Family Car’)
Ask the funeral director for an estate car or people carrier to take family and friends to the funeral instead of the traditional limousine. Alternatively, speak to family and friends about car sharing.

Average cost saving per traditional limousine – £220


6. Flowers
Ask a friend or make up the floral tribute yourself, using the deceased’s favourite flowers and in their favourite colours picked from your own garden. Or, instead of flowers, consider a donation to charity.

Average cost saving of a coffin spray – £160


7. Order of Service
Get a family member or friend to design the order of service and print it at home.  Top tip:  If you plan to buy some thicker paper or card, make sure it will go through your home printer!

Or simply use the hymn or songbooks available at the place of service.

Average cost saving of 1 x 4 page sheet – £1.50 (less the cost of the card and ink)


8. Reception
Searching a number of venues for the post-funeral reception will of course enable you to keep costs down. Alternatively, why not consider hosting the reception at your own or someone else’s home, and ask family and friends to help by bringing food and refreshments.

If the deceased was a member of an Association or Club you may find it will provide the venue and catering for a discounted fee, or for free if the deceased was a military service member.

Average cost saving per head at a hotel – £12.50 (excluding drinks)


9. Music
Some funerals have live music during the service or at the reception afterwards. This is an extra service that is not always needed when a digital playlist or CD of meaningful songs can be put together. You may even have a talented family member or friend who would be only too pleased to contribute to the service.

Average cost saving of an organist at the crematorium – £65   (Source:  Musician’s Union minimum fee, April 2018)


10. Memorial
Depending on the location and permissions needed, consider planting a tree, ordering a plaque rather than a bench, or simply donating to charity as a mark of remembrance.

Average cost of a memorial headstone – £801*


11. Paying the funeral director
Some funeral directors offer a discount on their professional fees when the account is settled before the date of the funeral.

Average cost saving – £50


12. Shop around
Funeral directors’ professional fees do vary within a locality. Start your search on aboutthefuneral.com to find a funeral director within budget.   And read the independent customer reviews to get a good sense of the all-round value of the service provided.

Please do leave a review on aboutthefuneral.com/reviews after the funeral.  It will help others so much when making their final decision on which funeral director to choose.  You don’t need to have used About the Funeral to leave a review, but you do need to be the person who signed the funeral director’s arrangement form.


13. Support
Family, friends or neighbours may be willing to contribute in various ways to create a memorable occasion, for example by providing food for the reception, lending their car and services as a chauffeur, or creating and printing home-made orders of service. At emotional times many people will be only too glad to offer a helping hand. Not only will their support help you, but making themselves useful may also be of comfort to them too.


14. Tailor your funeral on aboutthefuneral.com
When you compare the costs of funeral directors’ on aboutthefuneral.com, the initial results automatically return a list of the funeral directors’ packages at their lowest cost entry point.  These will include their essential services for arranging and attending a traditional funeral that allows family and friends to be present at the service. 

Use the ‘tailor your funeral‘ tool to add, change, and take away the things you don’t need to find a service within budget.  You’ll find the tailor your funeral tool on the results page – it’s the big orange button on the initial summary results page just under the map, or click the drop-down arrow in the bottom right corner of the ‘tailor your funeral’ orange box on the map.  Or click the green see quote button to get a detailed breakdown of what’s included within the funeral director’s package price and make changes directly on the funeral director’s quote.

And finally, if you have the opportunity …..

15. Plan ahead
The cost of a funeral has risen 112% in the last 13 years (2004 – 2017). Paying for your funeral in advance fixes the cost at today’s price, no matter how much funeral director fees rise in the coming years. Depending on the funeral plan you buy you can also cover some or all of the cremation and burial fees too. The cost can be spread over a fixed number of monthly payments or smaller repayments up to the age of 90.  Get in touch with us on 02920 099 200 if you would like a free, no obligation quote or click this link compare funeral plans and we’ll call you to go through your needs.  (We only compare plans from Funeral Planning Authority registered plan providers).

If you have no money to set aside for your funeral, then at the very least complete the My Funeral Wishes free download, so that those left behind to organise your funeral are given guidance on what to spend or not to spend.


Pricing based on 2017 & 2018 research

* Source:  SunLife Cost of Dying 2017


Kim Bird is the founder of the comparison and review site About the Funeral and Editor of the bereavement support and funeral planning magazine, Day by Day.

You may also like

Comments are closed here.