How To Keep Funeral Costs Down

Planning a funeral could be one of the most distressing tasks we’ll ever face, at a time when we’re at our most vulnerable. In a recent government report on the funeral industry, a funeral director was quoted referring to funerals as the “ultimate distress purchase” made by “emotionally vulnerable clients under time pressure”. 

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you’re probably aware that there’s a sense of urgency when planning a funeral. Nobody wants to spend time on the phone to funeral directors comparing prices and looking up affordable options when they’re grieving. This is the very reason why so many people make hasty decisions, taking the first deal they’re offered for the sake of convenience.  

But we’re here to tell you that there are ways of keeping funeral costs down and it sometimes simply comes down to two things:

  • Understanding the rising costs of a funeral
  • Preparing for the potential costs of a funeral

Funerals can be more expensive than we think

Before we get into how to reduce fees, let’s address the question of how much a funeral costs: according to the British Seniors Funeral Report 2023, the average cost of the funerals that respondents helped to arrange is £4,515. Discretionary elements like flowers, memorial cards and catering could potentially drive your bill up to as much as £13,622 for a burial and £12,668 for a cremation. The question is: could you or your family get together this amount of money on short notice? According to our research, 1 in 4 Brits that we surveyed think that if they were to suffer a family bereavement now, they would not be able to afford to cover the cost of a funeral.

It’s an uncomfortable fact but the funeral business is booming sometimes at the expense of the average person. Low-income families are, particularly at risk. The Funeral Market Study, published in March 2020, showed that in the past 14 years, funeral costs in the UK have increased by 6% year on year. That’s twice the rate of inflation. While cremation was a more affordable option for many, even crematoria fees have risen by about 6-8% annually.

Understanding the costs of a funeral

Prices vary depending on a few factors; location, the cost of a burial plot and the level of competition among local funeral directors. The funeral director’s fee can make up most of the cost. They take care of collecting, storing, preparing and delivering the body to the cemetery or crematorium. They take care of necessary forms and can supply things like a hearse, coffin and limousines. All of these things add extra costs to the final bill.

While there are unavoidable costs like the death certificate or the disposition of the body, savings can be made on the type of coffin, the type of service, flowers, transport and so on. The funeral director may offer a variety of services for set prices including a ‘no-frills’ package. Keep in mind that you’re under no obligation to choose to embalm the body. It’s up to you what you want to include or exclude.

By planning in advance, you can speak with different funeral directors, you can look into more affordable options like cheaper coffins, direct cremation or other alternative options.

Preparing for funeral costs

Considering the cost of funerals in the UK, it’s surprising how few people are making plans in advance. 2023 British Seniors Funeral Report found that 34% of people have not set aside any money or taken out life insurance to help pay for their own funeral. Our research also found that of those that have had to help pay for a loved one’s funeral, on average they made a contribution of £2,386.

The fact is, a funeral could cost the same for someone on a very high yearly income vs someone on a very low income. In fact, for a low-income family, a funeral can cost as much as their entire yearly expenditures for food, clothing and energy combined. When we take funeral costs in relation to overall household income, it can sometimes cost ten times more for lower-income households than higher-income households.

When we consider the fact that more than a quarter of UK households have no savings at all, it’s no surprise that some people are forced to take out loans and credit cards to cover costs.

But what really makes up the cost of a funeral?

When you think about a funeral, it can be difficult to picture the individual costs that are involved. Here’s a list of some of the most common things people pay for and how much they cost in 2023:

  • The cremation - £1,383
  • Funeral venue/service - £1,318
  • Burial fees - £1,229
  • Funeral home - £1,140
  • Headstone or plaque - £1,114
  • The burial plot - £1,107
  • The coffin or casket - £969
  • Hearse - £716

Life insurance could help keep funeral costs down

It’s hard to predict how much your funeral will cost, especially when we consider inflation but with life insurance, you can leave some money behind to help out.

With British Seniors, you can choose a benefit amount and premiums that you can afford. We offer our customers flexibility with our Over 50 Life Insurance policy. You choose a benefit amount of £1,000- £10,000 depending on your age at the policy start date. You’re guaranteed acceptance as long as you’re a UK resident aged 50-80. Cover starts from as little as £4.32 per month for a 50-year-old non-smoker with a £1,000 benefit amount, and the earlier you start, the greater the maximum benefit available.

We also work with Golden Charter to offer our customers a free Funeral Benefit Option worth £300 which can be used to contribute towards your funeral costs. If you choose this optional benefit, your loved ones will receive £300 towards the cost of your funeral.1

You can feel proud to protect the ones you love with British Seniors Over 50 Life Insurance. Our specialist team are ready and waiting to help you secure protection for your family.

Get a quote

British Seniors, Proud to Protect

We’re here to help you protect the ones you care about most. Call our specialist UK team to explore your options and get your free quote.

or call us

Related Guides


If you choose an unattended cremation, please note that the £300 contribution will not apply. An unattended cremation means any cremation where there is no funeral service, funeral procession (or other services such as family viewing, limousine(s), embalming or delivery of ashes). The cremation is arranged at a crematorium at a date and time chosen by the allocated funeral director and without anyone attending other than the funeral director’s staff.