When you’ve just lost a loved one, thinking or worrying about money is one of the last things you need on your mind. Unfortunately, whether it be due to the rising cost of funerals or just their own financial situation, many people have no choice but to make money their primary consideration when planning how to say goodbye to the people they love.
Of course, funerals are never going to be completely free, but there are ways in which those in need of a more budget-friendly option can still hope to remember their loved ones for the right reasons and not because their funeral ended creating serious financial problems. Whether it’s sitting down to figure out what additions you really need to make to your funeral service, or just being a little more prepared for the future, a funeral does not have to cost the earth if you don’t want it to.
Prepaid funeral plans are one of the most steadily growing methods of paying for a funeral in the UK. Naturally, these schemes are largely marketed targeting the over 50s, though some companies will provide funeral plans for those younger than 50. There are plenty of reasons why someone might wish to plan ahead, especially if they have come into a large sum of money and wish to protect their families financially should anything happen to them.
The benefit of taking out a funeral plan, or having a conversation with your loved one about their own future, is that even if you wish to spend a little extra on the funeral itself, it instantly becomes more affordable by ensuring the cost is spread out over many years. Most funeral plan companies, such as Golden Charter, work alongside independent funeral directors, so you have thousands of options available to you across the entire country. Though you do usually need to commit to a specific funeral home in order to take out a funeral plan, you also have the luxury of “shopping around” when the very real and heartbreaking reality of loss is not making the situation more urgent. Instead, you can take your time and pick the funeral director that is most aligned with your budget and needs.
Of course, funeral plans also require a certain amount of forethought and planning by their very nature. This means that this method is of no use to a low income family who is in need of an affordable funeral without these backups in place. However, if you are in a position to consider this option, it can save you not only time but stress as well as open up a healthy dialogue around the idea of death, both practical and emotional. Otherwise, some of these other tips might be more useful to you.
Type of funeral
The nature of funerals is changing and with COVID having in many ways forced far too many families to say goodbye to their loved ones with a direct funeral, more and more people are being exposed to this alternative way of saying farewell. It might have been David Bowie who first brought these types of funerals more into the public eye, but they are slowly becoming more and more common.
For some, a direct funeral is a way to commemorate their belief system even after they are gone. It’s a form of simplicity and minimalism that they may have lived in life and wish to be remembered by even in death. For others, a direct funeral is purely a financial consideration. These types of funerals often can take place outside of peak crematorium hours, which not only could make them more affordable, but could mean that the funeral is able to happen sooner and without the emotional baggage of an excessive waiting period.
Of course, this does also have its drawbacks. Crematoriums will often decide when the funeral will take place and apart from a few close family members, additional guests are not usually permitted to be present. This should be a consideration for families who hoped to have a large celebration of their loved one’s life with their friends and family around them in order to get that sense of closure. For some families who cannot afford a traditional funeral but would like an opportunity to say goodbye in the way they want, a direct cremation is the most affordable option, followed by a grand memorial service later down the line when it is financially viable.
Direct cremations may not be for everyone, but discussing this option with your funeral director is certainly worth it if saving money is at the top of your priorities. Don’t forget, there are other ways you can pay tribute to your loved ones outside of the funeral itself. Even if a direct cremation is not for you, even opting for a traditional cremation over a burial can be far more affordable for you.
Choosing the right funeral director
Unless you have taken out a prepaid funeral plan, then it’s entirely possible you haven’t chosen a funeral director until the very moment that you need one. In those intense emotional moments, it can be very overwhelming to take the time to find the funeral director that is right for you. It is understandable, therefore, that many people opt for funeral directors with brand names that they know and trust, especially if it’s their first time planning a funeral at all.
The sad truth is that many funeral directors that belong to these large corporations are often not the most affordable option for most people. In order to get their name out to as many people as possible, these companies usually have a costly advertising budget which can drive up the cost of their funeral care. Overheads and hidden costs are also not unusual and flexibility is usually not an option that most customers will have.
Independent funeral directors are often family run businesses and do not answer to CEOs or people outside of the businesses itself. As a result, they are able to tailor their packages themselves using their local knowledge of the area and the costs necessary to create a funeral. Because they are motivated by a people-first approach, independent funeral directors often are able to tailor their funeral packages to suit the needs of their customers. Some even provide small free services, such as free ashes delivery, as a gesture of kindness.
Of course, not all independent funeral directors will be the most affordable option for everyone, but most of them will be able to provide you a personal and warm service for a lot less. Their pricing structures are often completely transparent and with no hidden fees, so you always know exactly what you’re paying for and whether you can afford it.
While nobody enjoys talking about death, the cost of a funeral is something we all need to consider at some point. Some of the best ways of keeping a funeral affordable, as morbid as it may seem, is to simply plan for it. Opening up these conversations with your loved ones may be uncomfortable at first but it is likely they will be relieved to know that their passing won’t cause you extra stress financially on top of the obvious emotional weight.
If you have not had the chance to plan, however, making a few choice decisions in the funeral planning process can really help you. Even by looking into the funeral plan you actually can afford and thinking about alternative methods of remembrance other than expensive services can go a long way. Your funeral director will be able to go through all the available options with you and make sure that you are paying for what you can afford and not for unnecessary extras. That’s why it is important to work with a funeral director you trust and that has your best interests in mind. That way you can focus on what matters most, which is figuring out how to say goodbye.
We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.