Overlooked Bankruptcy Debtor Expenses

The Bankruptcy Code requires the debtor to file an accounting of average monthly personal and business expenses. The total monthly expenses are compared to the total monthly net income as one indication of the debtor’s ability to repay debts. Consequently, it is important to accurately identify all monthly expenses or risk complications in your bankruptcy case.

Fixed expenses, like a car or house payment, are easily identified. The same goes for variable expenses, which can be averaged over a six month period. These expenses include utility payments or transportation expenses. Discretionary expenses, like entertainment, clothing, and food are usually under-estimated. However, the category most overlooked is annual expenses. This category includes doctor co-pays, home owner association fees, and property taxes. It is recommended that the debtor review records and make an estimate based on a yearly average.

Below is a list of expenses you may not think about when completing your bankruptcy paperwork:


Personal Care

Salon/hairdresser or barbershop

Hair products

Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, personal care, etc.


Vehicle Expenses

Annual registrations

Regular inspections and maintenance

Oil changes


Car washes


Health / Medical

Glasses and visits to optometrist

Contact lenses and solutions

Co-pays for prescriptions and office visits


Prescriptions and over the counter medications, allergy remedies, aspirin


Dependent Care Expenses

Diapers, formula, day care

Annual school expenses, books, backpacks, etc.

School uniforms, expenses for sports

School lunches

Summer camps, childcare in summer


Home Care and Maintenance

Lawn care or snow removal

Computer supplies, paper, ink refills, toner cartridges

Home alarm fees


Financial Expenses

Bank charges (monthly checking account fees, ATM fees, etc.)

Tax preparation fees

Legal or accounting fees


Pet Care Expenses

Pet food

Veterinary visits


Heart worm or other medications

Annual pet license fees

With your input and assistance, your attorney can help you identify expenses and structure your bankruptcy schedules to avoid complications in your case. Bankruptcy is a powerful legal tool, but it requires a joint effort from you and your attorney to achieve the best result.

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