How to Plan a Funeral on a Budget
It’s easy for funeral costs to go beyond what you can comfortably afford when arranging a funeral for a loved one. You will feel a certain amount of pressure to get everything right, even if it’s not entirely clear what ‘getting it right’ looks like.
It might feel like it’s disrespectful to tighten the purse strings on a loved one’s final farewell, but being realistic about what you can afford is essential as this will allow you to focus on your grief without worrying how to pay bills or repay a debt.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can keep the costs down and stay within your budget, however big or small it might be. It is possible to organise funerals on a budget without compromising care, respect, and expression.
Plan the budget for the funeral
Traditional funerals are expensive. SunLife’s Cost of Dying report 2021 says that the cost of a basic funeral has risen to £4,184, its highest ever level. The amount of money spent has absolutely no bearing on how personal and special a farewell feels. Choosing a budget funeral in the UK can be a responsible and satisfying option.
Funeral costs can vary considerably, depending on the type of service you choose and whether there are any extras. For example, the difference between burial and cremation is significant.
Is a budget funeral right for you?
There are many reasons why you might want or need to choose a budget funeral. The deceased might not have set aside enough money, for example, in which case it’s down to the family to cover the cost.
On the other hand, it might be the wish of the deceased that their send-off costs as little money as possible. This might be because they don’t want any fuss or because they want to avoid creating financial stress for their loved ones when they pass away.
A low-cost funeral doesn’t have to be second best. There are several low-cost and customisable options available that can make a ceremony feel personal. One way to lower the cost is to focus more on a memorial service held separately from the cremation.
Whatever you decide to do, what matters most is that you’re able to gather with family and friends to honour a loved-one’s memory.
How much is a budget funeral?
Budget funeral costs can vary greatly. The total cost depends on the type of service you choose and what extra elements you want to include. You can break down the cost of a funeral into three sections: essential costs, professional fees, and money spent on a send-off.
Basic costs include funeral directors’ fees for collection and care of the deceased, doctors’ fees, and the burial or cremation fees. Professional fees include the use of funeral director vehicles, premises and staff, using clergy or a celebrant to draft and lead the service. Additional costs include a memorial, catering, venue hire, flowers, order sheet/service cards and any newspaper announcements about the death.
There are certain factors of a funeral that you can’t change. But there are things you can decide on as a family that will impact the overall cost. Some of the most expensive elements of a funeral include:
The coffin: many funeral directors will offer a simple, respectable coffin that is suitable for either burial or cremation from as little as £200. You can also find options online, however you may need to check that your chosen model is certified for cremation.
Flowers: On average, family's spend £193 on funeral flowers.
Hearse hire: this is usually included in the funeral director’s fees but you are allowed to convey the deceased to the cemetery or crematorium yourself.
Limousine hire: You can expect to pay at least £336 on additional limousines.
Venue hire: This can cost, on average, £282
When you’re planning a funeral on a budget and want to keep the cost of your loved one’s funeral low, it’s crucial to find the right balance between essential costs and additional elements.
A good funeral director can provide many valuable services. If you’ve never organised a funeral before, they can offer expert guidance but will charge a fee for their services. However, it’s up to you how involved the funeral director is in the process and what arrangements you choose to make.
Pure Cremation can take care of the necessary, legal arrangements at a low cost. Saving money on funeral costs leaves you free to create a separate farewell event that’s right for your family.
Ideas for budget funerals
What you choose to do with the body of a loved one is often the most significant factor in terms of low budget funeral costs. There are many types of funeral services and ceremony options that involve less formal elements.
A direct cremation is a distinct alternative to having a traditional funeral and can save you as much as 60%(Source: SunLife’s Cost of Dying report 2021). Direct cremation offers greater financial control and flexibility over how you choose to say goodbye. Providers of this type of service provide a basic coffin, simple and dignified care of the deceased (with no viewing), and transport to the cremation which takes place at a time, date, and venue of their choosing without mourners in attendance or a funeral service at that time.
A simple cremation includes the care of the deceased, transport to the crematorium, and a celebrant-led service. To keep costs to a minimum, the hearse, limousines, and pallbearers are omitted, with the coffin placed in the crematorium chapel before mourners arrive.
DIY stands for Do It Yourself, but think of it more as a Direct It Yourself funeral. With this type of ceremony, you get to choose the arrangements, enlist the help of professionals if you think it’s necessary, and put together a unique and personal farewell for your loved one.
This could mean caring for the deceased at home until the day of the funeral, purchasing your own coffin, completing the paperwork yourself, transporting the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery in an estate car and having a service led by a family member or friend.
An eco-burial is an environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional funeral service. The primary considerations are earth preservation and carbon footprint reduction. Elements might include biodegradable urns, burial shrouds, woodland burial sites, eco-friendly coffins, and alternative transportation.
The most effective way to ensure that an eco-burial is indeed low cost is to combine this with a more DIY approach.
Choosing budget funeral services in the UK
It’s not uncommon for people to rush into choosing a funeral provider. Often, a family will pick one that’s local. Unless you have specific cultural or religious requirements, it’s essential to understand that there’s no rush.
The cost and range of services offered by funeral providers varies considerably so don’t be afraid to take your time and choose the best one for your needs. Time spent researching your options, comparing funeral providers, reading reviews and checking prices is very worthwhile.
Tips for funeral planning on a budget
It’s important to remember that funerals are customisable, so you can choose what you want within your budget. There are some easy ways to cut the costs when planning a funeral.
Location: The cost of funeral director services vary from town to town so looking a little further afield may save money. Alternatively a regional or national provider may offer lower prices.
Cremation fees can vary widely too - so check out all the venues within easy travelling distance. Remember that funeral directors usually cover a particular area and may charge more to travel to a cheaper venue outside that area..
Burial fees also vary from place to place but higher charges often apply to people who lived outside the cemetery’s natural catchment area.
Separating the farewell from the practical care of the deceased e.g. with a Direct Cremation, allows you to hold a farewell absolutely anywhere you like at a time to suit your family.
A budget coffin: Many people take a pragmatic approach to the coffin especially for a cremation funeral, opting for something simple but respectful rather than elaborate or expensive versions.
Budget funeral flowers: Consider having one floral tribute from all the family, with each member writing their own card. Family or friends may have floristry skills and could create tributes at a lower cost, alternatively garden flowers can look lovely too.
A paper flower wreath created by the whole family is another option. Buying lots of single stem blooms from a wholesaler or market creates the opportunity to involve people in the service - distributing these to mourners for laying on the coffin as a personal goodbye is a lovely and moving idea.
Transportation: Let the funeral director provide the hearse but provide your own cars for family and friends. You could consider transporting the coffin yourself if you have an estate car, truck, trailer or even a hand-cart.
Celebran: unless the funeral is in a church anyone can lead the service. This is a real opportunity to involve friends and family in the farewell.
Orders of Service: these can be expensive items, but there are many on-line providers offering affordable options. This may be something that you want to design and produce yourself, but be sure to work closely with the person leading the service to get the content right...and make sure to check for mistakes before printing!!
Venues: Having the coffin present for the farewell will limit the number and type of venues available to places of worship, crematoria or cemetery locations such as chapels or the graveside itself. In contrast, a separate memorial service, with the urn or a photograph as the focal point, opens up many other options from your own home or garden to hotels and community centres.
It is possible to cut back on costs whilst also respecting the wishes of your loved one.
Budget funeral plans
A funeral plan is an excellent way to keep costs low. It’s a way of paying upfront for your funeral, so your relatives don’t have to cover the costs themselves in the future.
You can choose a plan that covers the essentials needed for a simple burial or cremation service, but this won’t include extras such as flowers, venue hire and catering for the wake.
If you’d like to know more about how to organise a funeral, then give us a call.