Before you sign your bankruptcy petition, you must review everything for accuracy. One of the schedules, called “Schedule J – Current Expenditures of Individual Debtor(s)” is where your monthly expenses are listed. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what their monthly expenses are, and what is allowed. A commonly asked question is, “What monthly expenses are allowed while in bankruptcy?”
Here are some personal monthly expenses that are allowed in bankruptcy: work expenses, ongoing legal fees, bank charges (monthly checking account fees, ATM fees), hair care and personal grooming products, annual tax return preparation fees, accounting fees, summer camp and summer activities, school lunches, sports fees, school uniforms, Christmas and birthday gifts, pet grooming and care, pet food, veterinary visits, oil changes for your car, cigarettes, car washes, and parking expenses.
Other allowable monthly expenses while in bankruptcy include: college expenses, home landscaping & lawn care, home alarm system and maintenance, annual registration cost for motor vehicles, postage, EZ Pass costs, OnStar system payments, vision care, doctor visits, dental visits, charitable donations, eyeglasses (care and replacement, including contact lenses and saline solution), home office supplies (including computer toner, ink, paper, and software), non-prescription medications, and shoe shines. Additional allowable monthly expenses include: monthly website subscriptions, monthly magazine and newspaper subscriptions, antacids, gym/YMCA fees, toothpaste, tooth whiteners, brush and floss, pain killers, cold/sinus/allergy remedies, vitamins, weight loss programs and aids, books, and music lessons.
Some expenses are easy to determine and record – fixed expenses such as mortgage or rent payments, car payments, health insurance, child support, and cable. Variable expenses are harder to determine since the payment amounts fluctuate. These expenses include food, electric costs, gasoline, day care, and phone. To determine your variable expenses, review the past year’s expenses and divide by 12 to calculate the average monthly cost. Don’t forget to include periodic expenses, such as clothing, medical expenses, and insurance.