NEWS COPY – By Gemma Francis
Brits are cutting back on expensive funeral costs with cheap coffins, having wakes at home and burying loved ones in the back GARDEN, a study has found.
Others admit to slashing the budget for flowers, not using a hearse and even not getting the body embalmed to keep prices down.
SunLife discovered the short cuts amid its annual Cost of Dying report which found the cost of a funeral has risen by 4.7 per cent to an average of £4,078.
This is an increase of more than 70 per cent in the past decade, with funeral costs more than doubling since 2004.
Dean Lamble from SunLife said: “The fact people are cutting back on aspects of the funeral they can control – the type of coffin, the wake, the flowers – highlights even further the growing costs associated with the funeral itself.
“Many people worry having a cheaper funeral is disrespectful, but the vast majority of us do not want money wasted on a fancy funeral.
“In fact, more than one in three people who have recently organised a funeral said they would want their own to be ‘as cheap as possible.’
“One in six would like a direct cremation and one in 12 would prefer a woodland burial. Just one in 50 want a lavish affair.”
The study of 1,524 people who have been or will be responsible for planning a funeral, and 100 funeral directors, found the coffin is the first thing people cut back on with more than one in three saying they ended up choosing a cheaper casket than they would have liked.
One in four cut their flower budget, another one in four held the wake at home and almost one in five didn’t have a hearse.
One in five also claimed they didn’t get the body embalmed – saving around £105.
Almost a third cut back on aspects of the funeral itself, with almost one in five opting for a direct cremation, which can cost, on average, half less than a standard cremation.
Others have chosen a cheaper creation time, decided not to have a minister present or have had fewer pallbearers.
Three per cent even kept the body at home until the funeral while two per cent actually buried their loved one, or scattered their ashes on their own land to avoid paying for a burial plot.
But researchers found just 46 per cent of people leave enough money to cover their funeral, with a third of those who have recently organised a funeral saying it cost more or ‘a lot more’ than they expected.
One in ten bereaved Brits even admitted there were items or wishes they were either unable to pay for or had to change because they couldn’t afford it.
The study also found funerals are becoming less religious, with just one in ten funerals now described as religious.
Instead, a third of people are having a ‘celebration of life’.
Many are also ditching traditions such as wearing black and ‘funeral’ songs, with one in seven saying the deceased made a special request for their funeral – either by writing their wishes in their will or telling a loved one before they died.
While ‘no black’ is now quite a common request, some are very specific in what they want people to wear, with one Liverpool supporter demanding no one wear blue due to his hatred of rival club Everton.
* To find out how much a funeral in your area costs, use our free funeral calculator, and to find out more about how to cut funeral costs, visit https://www.sunlife.co.uk/funeral-planning/funeral-plans/help-with-funeral-costs/
TOP TIPS TO REDUCE FUNERAL COSTS:
1. Have a direct cremation
This is where the body is cremated immediately after death, without a funeral service, saving an average of £1,761.
2. Hold a wake at home
Rather than having the expense of hiring a venue, you can save money by holding the wake at home instead. If it’s a nice sunny or dry day, you can also use your garden.
3. Make your own food
If you do hold a wake, you can save money by not hiring a caterer to make the food for you. Get together some of the family or friends and make sandwiches and nibbles to serve instead.
4. Choose a cheaper coffin
Coffins can be an expensive part of the funeral, but there are cheaper options away from the traditional casket. Cardboard coffins start from as little as £100.
5. Don’t embalm the body
Embalming the body is a traditional practice but not essential. You could save around £100 by choosing not to have the body embalmed.
6. Cut back on flowers
Flowers may look nice, but for many they can be seen as an unnecessary expense with many now requesting donations be made to a cause close to their heart rather than flowers being purchased in their memory.
7. Have fewer pallbearers
To cut back on costs, ask for fewer pallbearers, or even do it yourself by asking friends or relatives to carry the coffin instead. Not only does this save money but it can also add a more personal touch.