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 raise the finances 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 some simple ideas that could make all the difference.


Ask your funeral director for costs from at least two or three crematoria. Fees can vary significantly. 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.


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, tend to be the most affordable.

Your funeral director may even 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.


Coffin Bearers
Some funeral directors will reduce their fee where family and friends choose to carry the coffin.


Forgo the traditional hearse in favour of the funeral director’s lower-cost alternative, such as an estate car or a private ambulance.  Or why not use or hire your own vehicle instead.

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.


Mourners’ transport
Ask the funeral director for an estate car or people carrier to transport the mourners to the funeral. Alternatively, speak to family and friends about car sharing.


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


Order of Service
Get a family member or friend to design the order of service and print it at home. Or simply use the hymn or songbooks available at the place of service.


Searching a number of venues for the post-funeral reception will 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 a 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.


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.


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.


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.


Shop around
Funeral directors’ professional fees do vary within a locality. Start your search here to find a funeral director within budget.


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.


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.


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.

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