Living Expenses and Bankruptcy

If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be uncertain what type of financial situation you will have during the bankruptcy process. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy enables many debts to be dismissed (discharged), Chapter 13 bankruptcy actually allows you to create a restructuring plan that will provide a longer time for you to pay your debt obligations. However, in the meantime, while decisions are being made about the bankruptcy process, a debtor may wonder how to continue paying for daily living expenses. These day-to-day expenses do not vanish when someone declares bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court understands this and has certain guidelines for a debtor to be able to pay their basic living expenses. 

Understanding What Qualifies as “Basic Living Expenses”

After you file for bankruptcy, the court will request that you fill out a form that describes your basic living expenses. This will help the court make legal determinations about your bankruptcy, therefore it is imperative that you fill this out correctly. Consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help ensure that all of your financial rights remain protected as you fill this form out. Some of the types of expenses that qualify as basic living expenses include the following: 

  • Mortgage payments
  • Rent payments 
  • All utilities (water, gas, electric, trash, etc.) 
  • Cell phone 
  • Television
  • Internet
  • Home maintenance
  • Food
  • Clothing (including dry clearing or cleaning expenses) 
  • Medical and dental bills
  • Transportation bills (car insurance, public transportation, maintenance on a vehicle, registration fees, etc.) 
  • Taxes owed to the state or federal government 
  • Child support or alimony payments 
  • Childcare expenses (clothes, food, activities, books, education, childcare, etc0 
  • Disability premiums
  • Life insurance premiums 
  • Health insurance premiums 
  • Farm or business expenses (as applicable) 
  • Education expenses for either you or your spouse
  • Possible recreational or charitable contributions depending on the circumstances
  • Miscellaneous expenses depending on the circumstances 

While you have the legal right to write down and request living expenses regarding anything in your bankruptcy, it is important to realize that simply because a debtor writes down certain living expenses does not mean that the court will consider these to be actual or necessary living expenses. You may not receive the same amount of living expenses as you want. Never fail to include a living expense simply because you are hesitant and worry if a bankruptcy court will approve it. If it is truly a living expense that you incur every month, then it should be listed in your living expenses in your bankruptcy. Visiting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help give you a better understanding of what a court will typically accept and approve regarding your living expenses calculations in your bankruptcy. 

Contact an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney


An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you better understand what types of expenses should be listed as living expenses. You do not want to frustrate the judge or the court by asking for frivolous items. Contact our experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law for help determining which of your living expenses will qualify to be listed in your bankruptcy. 

I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby — not even money, certainly not my soul.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lankford & Moore Law in Downtown Lawrenceville

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