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Bankruptcy - Declared Living Expenses


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In preparation of speaking with an attorney about my bankruptcy options, I am trying to come up with a list of all of my monthly expenditures. Under the category of monthly living expenses (these don't include secured, non-secured credit items, or utilities and taxes), I wanted to post some items and amounts to see if they seem reasonable as monthly expenses and get feeback on anything that I may not be considering? I live in S.C. if that means anything.

Groceries (family of 4) $600

School Lunch (1 child) $52

Work Lunch $108

Gasoline (3 vehicles) $300

Household Items $100

Toiletries/Cosmetics $50

Pet Food/Supplies $50

Medical Co-pays $45

Prescriptions $165

Dental $32

Vehicle Maintenance $25

Clothing $75

Entertainment $150

Newspapers/Periodicals $15

My wife also operates a home daycare and has food and incidental expenses that take approximately $900 of her income per month. How would those expenses be treated?

Also, I have two children. One is 18, then other is 13. The 18 year old still lives at home. She is no longer in school and works part-time. In essence, we are still supporting her. How is she treated in terms of being considered a dependent if we file bankruptcy?

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from looking over my pre-BK7 paperwork, here is a brief summation of what my lawyer took from me. Keep in mind I am one person with no kids or spouse. I haven't even added it all up. My trustee did not question it. Just wanted to see tax returns for three prior years.

Rent $650

Water $30

Electric $75

Cable $40

Gas Bill $100

House Phone Bill (local only) $15

Cellular phone $65

Food $400

Clothes / Suits $200

Shoes $30

Personal Needs $40

Student Loan Payment $76

Car Payment $410

Car Insurance $200

Monthly Gas $275

Vehicle Maintenance $180

Physician Expenses $24

Dental Expenses $32

Haircuts $30

Church Donation $80

Entertainment $80

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What about things like hair cuts, dry cleaning, home maintenance, shoe repair, postage/shipping, birthday and holiday gifts (they are allowed within reason) ?? What about banking fees ? Do you use/buy checks ??

Clothing seems a little low if you and your wife are both filing. If its just you, then you may still be low depending on the type of work you do.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is underestimating their TRUE monthly expenses. Sit down with your check book, bank statements and receipts and make sure you're not forgetting anything.

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In terms of family gifts, is that immediate family (spouse and children), or would it include your parents, in-laws, siblings? What would someone say is reasonable? We normally spend $20 - $30 on a family member not living in our household for birthdays, christmas, etc. For household family members it's usually more. Also, it's not normally that we incur these type expenses every month. What do you do in that case, add up what you expect them to be for the year, then average them out over 12 months?

Should the goal in listing living expenses plus secured debt be to bring my disposable income to zero or as close to zero as possible? What if that number comes out to a negative? With no disposable income will I have no choice in my filing options - meaning chapter 7?

I live in S.C. I have no equity in my cars (all leased), no equity in my home, no major assets except a boat and jet ski that I owe more than they are worth. No major home valuables except two big screen televisions (one financed last year, other is 2 years old - owned free and clear), a couple of smaller owned televisions (less than 30"), a couple of owned personal computers and printers that are over two years old, ordinary living room furniture (couch, loveseat, chase, end tables), ordinary bedroom furniture, dining room table, kitchenette set, no major jewelry, 1-yr old refrigerator, three year old riding lawnmower, 1 year old push mower, and misc garden tools that have little to no value, 3 DVD players, and about 100 - 200 misc. DVD movies.

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From my experience last year, if you want to go BK7, then monthly living expenses need to be very close or at your income without unsecured debt. My attorney may have bumped up my numbers to match cash flow coming in, because I make much more than what was added up on that list.

The point of me giving you my list was that you may be underestimating many things anyway. Its very easy too! Be realistic about expenses and rack your brain about everything. Even things like turnpike and bridge tolls, veterinarian bills, the TRUE amount you spend for upkeep and repair of a vehicle, etc, etc, etc. If things are not "monthly" like the occasional major car repair, then average it out.

Most of the assets you listed are safe. No one wants your garden tools. The court will NOT be having a yard sale of your goods (no offense, most likely the trustee does not want it since its more trouble than its worth!). But the jet ski and boat may be an issue. Check with your attorney!!!

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