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How families cut funeral costs

According to insurance provider SunLife, which has just released its annual Cost of Dying Report, almost half of those who have organised a funeral have cut back on some aspects to keep costs down. 

Top of the list for cutting costs is the coffin, with more than one in three families who cut back saying they went for a cheaper option.  

A quarter of resepondents cut back on flowers and a further quarter said they held the wake at home to save on hiring a venue. One in five didn’t embalm the body, while 17% did not use a hearse and 17% chose to have a direct cremation.

Some families chose a DIY approach, keeping the body at home or burying their loved one of their own private land.

“The fact that people are cutting back on aspects of the funeral that they can control – the type of coffin, the wake, the flowers etc, highlights even further the growing costs associated with the funeral itself, i.e. the burial and cremation costs, and the funeral director’s fees,” says Dean Lamble, CEO at SunLife.

In 2008, says SunLife, the cost of a funeral and send-off was £4,646, and this was fairly evenly split between the funeral itself (55%) and the ‘send-off’ (45%). Today, the combined cost of a funeral and send off is £6,006, with the funeral making up 68% of that cost, and the send-off just 32%.

Lamble said the company was seeing an increase in the number of people buying funeral people, but 41% of people still don’t leave any specific provision for their funerals.

“This is leaving families with a shortfall of £2,356 on average,” he added.

“For one in nine families, finding the money to pay for a loved one’s funeral caused them real financial problems with almost two thirds having to borrow money.

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