How to keep funeral costs down

- 19/08/21

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We know that organising a funeral when you have just lost a beloved family member or friend is stressful enough without having extra worries about the cost. Traditional funerals can also be very expensive.

You may feel under pressure to push the boat out and have an elaborate funeral as a mark of respect for the deceased. The problem is that you could end up paying far more than you expect or budgeted for.

Is there a way to keep costs down? Of course. A simple, no-fuss funeral can be just as appropriate a celebration of the life of a loved one, and in some cases even more so. Don’t feel you have to spend lots of money on a funeral to show your respect; it’s your heart that’s important, not your wallet.

So how can you organise a fitting funeral without breaking the bank?

These days, there are plenty of alternative funeral options that don’t have many of the usual costs associated with them. Here are the most common ones:

Direct Cremations

This is a simple, no-frills solution where the cremation is organised directly with a crematorium company rather than through a funeral director. A direct cremation gives families and friends the opportunity to say goodbye in a dignified way that suits them without the costs, formality and stress that can come with a traditional funeral.

At its simplest, a direct cremation takes place with no funeral service or mourners present, leaving you free to organise a separate celebration or wake to remember the deceased. Some companies, such as Distinct Cremations, offer the option of an attended cremation, where a few friends and family members can gather at the crematorium for a short intimate farewell.

Distinct Cremation have produced a useful guide to direct cremations.

DIY Funerals

Funeral Directors aren’t the only people who can organise a funeral. If you have the time, you can take on the work that they would normally do and save yourself money. With a DIY funeral you will need to complete any legal paperwork, buy the coffin yourself, book the cremation directly with the crematorium and pay any fees yourself.

For a DIY Funeral, you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to do your research and make all the arrangements. It’s also nice to have some support from friends or family who are willing to help.

Simple funerals

If you’d still like to organise a traditional funeral, there’s no need to break the bank. Many funeral directors offer simple funeral packages that include all the essential services but none of the frills. This could include having the funeral take place during off-peak times and days – normally early mornings and weekdays.

There are lots of ways to keep your funeral costs down. All you need is tight control of the budget and do a little of the work yourself:

  • Keep the coffin simple. While a traditional coffin can cost over £400, simple alternatives, like cardboard coffins, can be a quarter of the price.
  • Skip the limousines. Limos add hugely to funeral costs. Ask guests to provide their own transport or hire a minibus.
  • Use your own pallbearers. Ask family or friends to do the job, they’ll likely welcome the honour.
  • Limit the flowers. 81% of UK funeral directors said people tend to overspend when it comes to funerals, especially on flowers[1]. Less is often more.
  • Design and print your own order of service. With a little work and computer know-how, you can produce your own service booklets at a fraction of the cost.
  • Check if you can get help from the government. If you are on benefits, you could get a grant from the government for up to £1,000 to help with funeral costs.

If you’re not sure where to start, Distinct Cremations offer a range of guides that can help with organising a funeral.


  1. SunLife (2021)
Distinct Cremations Limited [Trading as Distinct Cremations] | Registered in England No: 13366310 | Registered Office Westerleigh Crematorium, Westerleigh Road, Bristol BS37 8QP | Part of the Westerleigh Group |