Looking for ways to reduce funeral costs? The average funeral costs around £4,000 so it’s sensible to look at how to keep costs down.
Use our guide below to see how you can save money on the cost of a funeral.
How to keep funeral costs down
It may feel like you need to plan everything immediately. But there’s no rush to get your plans in place. In fact, if you take the time to look at each part of the funeral in turn you could save on funeral costs. We’ll take you through each part of the process below so you can note down what you’d like and see if it fits your budget.
1. Burial or cremation?
There can be a big difference in price between a burial and cremation. In 2022 the average burial cost was £4,794 and the average cremation cost was £3,673 (SunLife 2023). The costs may be different up and down the UK but by choosing a cremation you could reduce funeral costs.
Your faith or the wishes of the person who died may make this decision for you. But if not, then this is one option you have to save money.
Already made your decision? Here’s how you can cut down on funeral costs whether you choose a cremation or a burial.
Keeping cremation costs down
- Take a look at the prices for all the crematoria near you. Your nearest crematorium may cost more than one just a mile down the road.
- Ask about off-peak times for the service. Weekday services in the morning tend to cost less than weekend services.
- Is there any difference in cost if you ask for a shorter service? Some venues will give you a 30 minute slot instead of an hour.
Keeping burial costs down
- Check the costs of different cemeteries near you. The difference in the cost of burials in privately owned cemeteries and local authority ones can be surprising.
- Where the grave is in the cemetery can impact costs. If it’s close to a path it may cost more so check this with the cemetery.
- Ask for a lawn grave with just a headstone and no surround. This may cost less than a traditional grave that has a surround.
- Some cemeteries offer shared graves or reclaimed graves which can help you reduce costs. Keep in mind that a headstone may not be possible with this option.
2. Traditional or simple funeral?
Traditional funerals can soon add up. They usually include extras like limousines and additional services from the funeral director. So choosing from a price list might be a better option and help you reduce funeral costs. Or you could ask the funeral director (if you’re using one) for their simple funeral package. This is usually a less expensive option but it may not include everything you have in mind. If you don’t want to have a service at all, you could also consider a direct cremation – this is the lowest cost option as there’s no ceremony to arrange.
Are there any other options?
If the person who died didn’t want a fuss and you’re working with a small budget, a direct cremation or burial (also known as an unattended funeral) might be best. This is when there is no service and no one attends. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a memorial or get-together to remember the person who died. You could plan your own memorial service before or after at any venue you like. This could help you save on catering costs and remember the person in a way that’s personal to them.
3. Added extras or no fuss?
Remember that the funeral can be just how you want it to be. There’s no pressure to have flowers or a limousine if that doesn’t suit or if it costs too much. There may be things you can do yourself instead of paying someone, like printing your own order of service. That will help you save on funeral costs and give the person who died the send-off they were expecting.
Use our list below to help you figure out where you can reduce funeral costs and still organise the send-off you’d like.
- Is there a simple coffin that costs less? Check with your funeral director. Cardboard coffins are usually the least expensive option, while chipboard and veneer coffins have the look of a solid wood coffin but cost much less. Learn more about coffin costs.
- Is visiting the body before the service important to you? If not, ask if the funeral director can reduce the cost. A funeral director will usually embalm the body before it’s viewed. So if seeing the person who died isn’t part of your plans, ask the funeral director not to carry out the embalming process so you can save on funeral costs.
- Ask friends and family to be pallbearers. Would you and your family like to carry the coffin yourselves instead of asking for other pallbearers? Usually the funeral home’s staff can help with carrying the coffin but if you and other friends and family are happy to do it then you may be able to save on costs.
- Consider saving on transport. Could you and other guests drive to the funeral instead of hiring limousines? Some funeral directors may also have less expensive ways of transporting the body such as a private ambulance so that you don’t have to pay for a hearse.
- Ask about fee waivers for religious services. Did the person who died regularly attend a religious service? Their faith leader may be willing to waive their fee if the person who died was a close member of the community.
- Buy and arrange your own flowers. Did the person who passed away want flowers? Consider buying your own flowers locally and arrange them yourself. It doesn’t have to be professional to give your loved one the send off you want.
4. Use a funeral director or plan it yourself?
In the UK, you’ve got two main options for arranging a funeral. You can either use a funeral director to coordinate it for you, or you can organise everything yourself.
Arranging a funeral yourself
Did you know that you don’t have to use a funeral director to plan a funeral? There’s no legal requirement and it could help you plan a low cost funeral.
Read our guide to organising a funeral yourself and see if it will help you keep costs down.
Finding the right funeral director
If you want to use a funeral director to help you with planning there are some things you can do to help keep costs down.
- Get as many quotes as you can from different funeral directors in your area. This will help you compare their plans and save on funeral costs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use a funeral director after speaking with them on the phone. Tell them you’re getting quotes and will call back if the plan is on budget. You can use our online funeral director finder to make this easier.
- Ask them for a breakdown of costs so you can see where the money is going. This could help you choose the parts that are most important to you and opt out of those that aren’t.
- Ask the funeral director about third party costs too. These are sometimes known as disbursement fees and include things like doctor’s fees and burial/cremation fees. They’re not always included on the funeral director’s cost breakdown but you will need to pay them.
- Ask about deposit payment. Keep in mind that most funeral directors will ask for a deposit upfront. Let them know what budget you’re working with and if you’ve applied for any financial help from the government. They might be able to reduce the deposit or wait for your grants to come through.
- Could you spread the cost of the funeral? Ask the funeral director if you can pay them in instalments so you can organise the funeral you want for your loved one without going into debt.
More help with funeral costs
Reducing costs is one way to make it easier to pay for a funeral. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get other help too:
- Find out if you could claim the DWP funeral grant. This government scheme is available to people who get certain types of benefit payment and can be used to cover essential funeral costs.
- Get ideas for how to raise money for a funeral. If you can’t get the government grant, you could organise a community fundraiser or use crowdfunding to raise the money you need.
- Find out about other ways to find support. Read can I get help with funeral costs? for more info about the different types of funding available.