How to have a cheap funeral
Last updated 26th June 2023
5 min read
Funerals can be expensive, but it is possible to have a cheap funeral if you can save costs in the right areas.
Here’s a breakdown of how and where you can help keep a funeral cheap.
Funeral Directors’ fees
It may seem unusual, but you don’t have to use a funeral director. You could organise a DIY funeral with the help of family and friends, although this can be challenging during such a difficult time.
A happy medium could be to use a funeral director for the more specialist requirements, like storing and preparing the body, and then take care of the service yourself.
It’s probably easiest to use a funeral director for almost everything, but there are still a number of ways to help with funeral costs and trim the final bill.
Burial and cremation fees have risen over the last decade and are likely to be the most expensive part of a funeral.
These fees can vary from region to region but if you want to go for the cheapest funeral, opt for a direct cremation to keep costs down.
A direct cremation takes place without a funeral service, with no ceremony and no attendees. After death, when there is availability, the body will go to the crematorium in a simple coffin and the ashes will be returned to loved ones.
Direct cremations are becoming more and more popular as they help keep a funeral cheap. They also allow loved ones to have a more personalised send off to celebrate the deceased in the way they choose.
A natural burial can also be a cheaper alternative option.
Coffins range in price and while you may want to give your loved one the grandest send-off possible, it’s likely that the coffin won’t be highest on their list of send-off wishes.
Keeping the coffin simple will help to keep costs down and allow for the money to be spent on other things.
Take a look at our guide to the types and prices of coffins to get an idea of what to expect from different budgets.
Embalming is the process used to slow down the decay of the body.
If the funeral is planned to be conducted very soon after death, and the funeral director has adequate refrigeration facilities, embalming may not be necessary.
It may be difficult to think about, but skipping this step could help keep costs down, especially if you are not planning to have an open casket.
While a hearse and limos are very traditional, they aren’t both necessary.
You could use your own transport or ask friends and family to assist.
Alternatively, you could always organise a procession on foot if the distance isn’t too far.
Pallbearers are often included in a package from the funeral director, but you could ask friends and family to carry the coffin, which will not only keep the costs down, but will also make the funeral more personal.
Orders of service
You don’t have to spend lots on creating an order of service. Ask friends or family to design something that can be printed at home.
There are plenty of tools on the internet with templates for you to personalise – and even add photos of your loved ones.
This can allow you to create a more personal, heartfelt order of service at a fraction of the cost.
A professional florist can end up costing a lot of money and while the flowers might be beautiful, supplying your own from the garden or local woodland can be a simple but personal solution.
Another way to make a funeral cheaper is to look at alternative arrangements for the memorial service after the funeral.
There’s no right way to hold a memorial service or wake, it can be completely down to the deceased’s wishes or those organising the funeral.
Some people choose not to have one at all. It’s important to do what feels right and what works with your finances.
Sometimes hiring an expensive venue can be an unnecessary strain – and not what your loved one might have wanted.
You could choose instead to invite people to your home. This can feel very personal and more relaxed.
And, many people will be more than happy to help with providing food and drink, which will reduce costs and make the event more intimate.
If you want to hold it away from your home, you could ask the local pub, village hall or community centre.
Sometimes these types of venues work out much cheaper, and, if you’re a local, they might even offer you a discount.
You can use your own choice of pre-recorded music rather than live music to help keep costs down.
Remember to spend the money where it matters most
If you know what someone wanted for their funeral, focus spending on their choices rather than on things that meant little to them.
This is why it’s so helpful to talk about our funeral wishes and document our funeral plans when we’re alive and well.
If you don’t know exactly what someone wanted, spend on elements that will reflect what they valued or enjoyed and cut the funeral costs elsewhere.
For example, if the person loved singing, you could go to town on a choir but opt for a simple coffin.
If they wouldn’t care about flowers or a fancy coffin, use the money towards other things that might have mattered more to them, like a wake after the funeral.
Making advance plans for your own funeral is one of the best ways to help reduce the strain on those left behind and make sure you get the send-off you want.
There are many decisions you can make now to reduce the bill for your funeral and help those closest to you both financially and emotionally when the time comes.
If you're thinking about planning your funeral, why not try our My Perfect Send-Off tool. It’s a free and simple way to record your funeral wishes and share them with loved ones.