Losing a loved one is never easy, and things can be made even more difficult if you realise that your finances are limiting the funeral plans. In the UK, costs can vary, but the average funeral costs over £4000, due to hefty funeral director charges, as well as any additional charges from disbursements or optional add-ons. If money is tight, this can leave you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself. However, there are some ways you can plan a low cost funeral, making it as easy as possible to give your loved one the beautiful send-off they deserve. To do this, we’ve created a guide to keeping costs down for funerals.
Go for a Direct Cremation
One of the biggest expenses after someone passes away is the funeral service, with costs for this racking up thanks to expensive ceremonies which require catering, transport and venue hire. Therefore, the best way to save money during this difficult time is to choose a direct cremation for your loved one. These simple cremations are a good choice for those wishing their loved one more privacy – they are a cremation without a service beforehand and no follow up ceremony. Also known as a pure cremation, these services are growing increasingly popular, especially as more and more people decide as part of their end of life plans that they don’t want their family and friends to fuss over a service, especially if they know money is tight.
Having a direct cremation also eliminates the need for any embalming of the body to take place, which is a further way to save money – with embalming costs alone reaching between £75-£200, even this one saving can make a big difference. Pure cremations also mean that the body will not require a traditional coffin, as these usually take place with a cheaper cardboard equivalent to make the process easier and aligned with UK laws.
Although some people feel that direct cremations aren’t always the most personal approach, there are a number of ways that you can memorialise your loved one following the cremation that are personalised and respectful to them. For instance, many families choose to hold a celebration of life event for their deceased loved one following the pure cremation, which means family and friends can still come together.
Work Together for a Self-Catered Funeral
It’s a well-known fact that funeral caterers don’t come cheap, and that’s for good reason – professional funeral caterers will be experienced with feeding a large crowd, and understand the difficult time that you and your family are going through. They’ll also be able to come up with a suitable plan for the menu. However, these services are costly and there are a lot of ways that you can reconsider the catering to be more budget-friendly.
An easy way to do this is to opt for a self-catered funeral. Get any attendees that were particularly close to your loved one to come together, to see if anyone would be willing to bake some goods or bring a store bought food item, so that you can create the perfect menu in a more cost-effective way. This will allow you to prioritise spending in other areas, and may give you more freedom around food choices for those attending – you can take your time to survey each individual’s diet preferences to make sure that the menu offered is to everyone’s taste. Although using a professional funeral caterer may seem like a stress-free option, by pitching in together with family, you can craft the catering to your budget, and this approach is a great way to bring people together during a difficult time.
Hold the Wake at Home
Another thing to consider for a low cost funeral is holding the wake at home, rather than hiring a venue. Wake venue hire can go well into the hundreds, and this can affect other areas of the funeral service as you need to cut back on costs. By holding the wake at home, you can avoid this cost, and also make the layout more suitable for self-catering. What’s more, holding the wake at home is also an appropriate way to encourage mourners to feel secure in a familiar environment, to enable them to express their love for their deceased friend or family member in privacy.
Many people, as they prepare their end of life plans, will often note that they don’t want a huge fuss to be made over their passing, and if this is the case for your loved one, then a home-based wake is the perfect way to honour their wishes while allowing everyone to come together in celebration of their life. Coupled with some other cost-effective funeral arrangements such as a direct cremation, holding the wake at home shows the utmost respect for the deceased.
Reconsider Using Pallbearers
Pallbearers are the individuals who carry the casket at a funeral service, and this is a long established tradition, but one that can still be personalised to suit your budget and circumstances. While a funeral provider will be able to assign employees to act as pallbearers at an additional cost, suitable friends and family members will be able to take on this role, so long as they are emotionally and physically capable of performing this difficult task. Alternatively, you can even opt to not have pallbearers at all, and in this case the funeral director will be able to advise you on other ways to have the coffin brought in. By keeping the funeral straightforward in this way, the memorial can be budget-friendly without breaking the bank.
Additionally, if you decide to opt for a pure cremation without a ceremony, then the need for pallbearers or other coffin transportation would be eliminated entirely, so if you’re struggling to meet the costs associated with having pallbearers then direct cremation might be a worthwhile option to consider.
Make the Most Out of the Internet
While the internet comes with its downsides, one of the best things about it is that it is universally accessible and can provide a range of services that can help you cut costs for the funeral. This includes things such as:
- Notification of death
If your loved one had a large group of family and friends, then unfortunately it may not always be possible to notify everyone individually of their passing. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can use the internet to send a notification for free, such as through social media or an email messaging application. As long as you are careful to add a personal touch and speak with those who aren’t as social media savvy in person, you can save a lot of money through an online notification rather than by writing to individuals.
In a similar way, online invitations are a cost-effective way to relay to others when the funeral will be taking place and at what time. There are some free invite templates that you can edit and send online, too, so you can personalise the invitations to your loved one and their character. If needed, you can also leave your online contact details on the invitations in case any funeral guests need to get in touch with you for some more information.
- Travel arrangements
If you’re hoping to save money and have exhausted some of the main tactics for a low cost funeral, try using social media to help your friends and family organise travel arrangements to the memorial. You can create a Facebook group, for example, dedicated to the memory of your loved one, where people can discuss funeral arrangements and organise group travel to save money.
- Memory banks
You can build on this Facebook group to create a memory bank of photos and videos of your loved one, which any members can contribute to. They can also leave comments about their favourite memories and the impact that your loved one had on their life. As having a Facebook account and making or joining a group is completely free, this is a widely accessible method of memorial that will bring the overall cost of the funeral right down.
While this is not an exhaustive guide of all the ways you can make a funeral more cost-effective, if you take on some of the ideas discussed you can be certain that the event will be budget-friendly, especially if you adapt the tips to your own circumstances. Regardless of whether you go for an expensive service or a low-cost cremation, remember that it is the love and compassion you have for your loved one and family that will really make their funeral special.
Direct cremations offer your loved one privacy and respect after they have passed on, so there is no shame in keeping the memorial intimate and small – you can still hold a celebration of their life after the cremation, which will allow family and friends to remember them in the best way possible. Although this is a difficult time, you’ll make the best choices for the funeral when you realise that the most important part of the memorial service is the way you choose to come together to remember your loved one, rather than the money you spend.