Dealing with loss and grief is difficult enough without the added stress of working out how to cover the cost of a funeral.
With even basic funeral packages starting at around $4,000, juggling these (often un-planned for) expenses can feel overwhelming. You may also be trying to balance any last wishes, or family expectations, with the reality of what you can afford.
We’ve helped many families find that balance. There are several ways you can contain the cost of a funeral while still planning a heartfelt celebration of life. It often just means accepting any help on offer and making thoughtful choices about what is most important to you and your family.
The main funeral costs to factor into your budget
Planning a funeral isn’t something most people think about until they have to. It’s normal to feel a bit lost at first, wondering what needs to be done and how much it’s all going to cost. The list below should give you a pretty good idea of what’s involved.
You’ll need to plan for:
- the death certificate
- funeral directors
- a casket or coffin
- burial or cremation costs
- celebrant or clergy fees
- newspaper notices
- order of service booklets
- service venues
- food and drink to be served after the service
Note that while some of the items listed are fixed costs (ie official documents), others are more flexible. The total cost of a funeral often depends on the style of event you are planning and the budget you are working with.
Four ways that an affordable funeral can also be a meaningful one
When people anxiously ask, “how do I avoid an expensive funeral?”, we are always quick to reassure them that they are in control of more of the costs than they realise.
Here are four simple ways you can reduce funeral costs, while still giving your loved one the send-off they deserve:
1: Choose a cremation over a burial
A burial can very quickly become expensive. Choosing this option means adding the costs of a casket, burial plot and headstone or plaque to the overall price of a funeral. If cultural and religious beliefs allow for it, cremation is often the less expensive, more flexible option; you can choose to bury the ashes, store them in a memorial urn or scatter them somewhere that holds special meaning for your family.
2: Give floral arrangements a more personal touch
As lovely as formal florist arrangements can be, home grown flowers (or those chosen and brought along by close family and friends) can make for a more meaningful tribute. You might ask that everyone bring a bunch of the departed’s favourite blooms or even display flowers from your loved one’s own garden. This not only saves significant costs but is also very moving.
3: Don’t be shy about asking for (and accepting) offers of help with the catering
Supplying food and refreshments is often one of the first ways people offer to help when someone passes – you may not even have to ask. Close family and friends are often all too happy to bring along a simple cake or plate of biscuits to put out after the funeral service.
4: Dip into the family talent pool
Think about any other ways might family or friends be able to lend a hand; do they have any special skills to offer? Maybe one of the grandchildren can sing beautifully or plays a musical instrument? Perhaps someone you know runs a design business and wouldn’t mind doing up the order of service? Put the word out; you may be surprised what people put their hand up to do.
Special doesn’t have to mean expensive
We’ve witnessed very touching celebrations where the contributions of family and friends have not only reduced the cost of a funeral, but also made the event so much more personalised. If you feel awkward about asking for help, just remember that your nearest and dearest are keen to offer their support; most are more than happy to play an active role in helping you say goodbye.
You can find more helpful advice on easing financial stress in our guide on How to Avoid an Expensive Funeral.
For expert advice and guidance that’s with you every step of the way, call Logan Funerals – we’re available any time of the day (or night) on ph: (07) 3341 4111.