IF you think the cost of living* is too high, take a very deep breath before you check out the cost of dying ...
A recent report found that funeral and related expenses soared by TEN times the increase in the cost of living between 2015 and 2016.
They have shot up faster than rent, food, insurance, clothing and even utility bills, according to a study by SunLife Insurance, easily outstripping rises in wages, inflation, and pensions.
Burying a loved one is ten times more expensive today than it was ten years ago.
But that's just part of the problem. The report found that while the average funeral will now set you back a little under £3,900, the total cost of dying clocks up at a whopping £8,802 per person.
That eye-watering figure includes shelling out for probate, headstones and flowers as well as basic funeral costs which make up 44per cent of that overall sum.
The expense of a funeral alone has rocketed up 5.5per cent in a year, while the average cost of a UK funeral is now more than double what it was when SunLife started tracking the price of funerals twelve years ago.
Had the cost risen in line with the cost of living it would average out at £2,540 — a hefty £1,357 less than today's average figure which stands at £3,897.
No wonder many bereaved families feel obliged to cut corners on their loved one's send-off.
On average we spend 28per cent less on a funeral now than we did just five years ago.
SunLife's research found that one in twelve funeral organisers had been forced to economise on their plans.
Nearly one in three cut back on limos for the immediate family, more than half spent less on the catering at the wake or the memorial (headstone, urn etc) and one in eight skimped on the flowers.
Many found they were unable to pay for the funeral outright and ended up having to settle the balance on a credit card, or by taking out a loan, or by selling their belongings.
What's the alternative to enforced economising on funerals?
So what is the alternative? The simple answer is a pre-planned funeral. The right deal can cost nearly a £1,000 less than the average price quoted above and can be paid by installments while you're alive so you can avoid inflicting all of that extra stress on your nearest and dearest.
Losing a loved one is upsetting enough without then having to face a mountain of unexpected expenses.
A whole range of pre-planned funerals are available to check out online.
*AS the old joke has it, the cost of living may be expensive but most people still prefer it to the alternative.