Dicing With Debt: Counting the Cost of Bereavement

Do you have a credit card?

With 55.4 million currently in issue in the UK, it’s extremely likely that you do – but can you guess what the number one reason for credit card usage was last year?

Holidays? Handbags? Electrical goods?

In actual fact, “funeral services” was the top purchase in 2013, with the typical amount placed on a card for a loves one’s funeral working out at £1,114. This is ahead of tax bills (£838), vehicle sales (£359) and floor covering stores (£353)

With credit card spending doubling in the last 10 years, this may come as a surprise to those more used to treating themselves with their plastic, but when we factor in how much the cost of a funeral has risen in the same period, the picture becomes much clearer.

This year alone, over 100,000 people will struggle to pay for a funeral, as the cost of dying has risen well above inflationary levels, currently sitting at around £7,622 when you add in probate, a headstone and flowers.

Funeral Costs Continue to Increase

Perhaps most shockingly, while funeral inflation has risen at a rate of seven per cent every year for the last nine years, the government’s Social Fund Funeral Payment has failed to increase since 2003.

In addition, the level of funeral poverty is also rising unabated, as the national funeral funding shortfall currently sits at around £131 million.

With more and more people struggling to cover the costs of burying their nearest and dearest, then, it’s crucial that some degree of financial foresight goes into preparing for death, lest your family are left to pick up the bill.

To offset these rising costs, a growing number of folk are seeking out pre-paid funeral plans in an effort to secure the service they want at today’s prices, as opposed to increased, future rates.

Typically, by paying for your funeral now, it nails down the funeral director’s services, lets you take control of how you want to be remembered – songs, readings, dress code – and allows you to get on with enjoying the rest of your life.

While it’s undoubtedly a tough decision to face, planning ahead not only offers increased peace of mind and financial security, it relieves the burden that your passing may have if your loved ones are strapped for cash.

Indeed, with the total value of card payments expected to increase from £520bn last year, to £874bn by 2023, it would be no surprise if the average payment on a credit card for funeral services continued to balloon.