How to Complete Bankruptcy Schedule J: Your Expenses

On bankruptcy Schedule J: Your Expenses, you list your average monthly expenses and the members of your household.

Filing for bankruptcy requires full disclosure of your income and expenses, debt and assets, and prior transactions on official bankruptcy forms. On one such form, Schedule J: Your Expenses, you provide details about your current household budget. The bankruptcy trustee—whose job it is to find funds to distribute to your creditors—will compare Schedule J to Schedule I: Your Income and determine whether you are paying your creditors the amount your budget allows.

For more information about other required forms, see The Bankruptcy Forms section.

What’s Schedule J’s Purpose?

The court and your bankruptcy trustee use Schedule J  to determine several things, including:  

  • whether you have too much disposable income to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and
  • if you can afford to make your proposed plan payments in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  

If Schedule J shows that you have a lot of disposable income—meaning that you have money left over after paying your expenses—the court might decide that you are ineligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (even if you otherwise pass the bankruptcy means test). If you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will use Schedule J to make sure you have enough money to make your monthly Chapter 13 plan payments (or that you’re not paying too little).

Completing Schedule J

Schedule J is where you list your current monthly expenses and all of your dependents, whether living in your household or not. The form is self-explanatory and includes easy-to-understand instructions, so filling it out is simple—especially if you follow these tips:  

  • You’ll list the expenses of a spouse living in a separate residence on the Expenses for Separate Household of Debtor 2 form.
  • You can determine the monthly cost of occasional expenditures (like car repairs or snow removal) by dividing your yearly costs by 12.
  • Be ready to explain any unusually high expenses and prepared to provide receipts.
  • If you have an expense that isn’t listed on the form, you can enter it in the “Other” section.
  • You can explain any anticipated increase or decrease in your expenses at the end of the form.

Where to Get Schedule J: Your Expenses

You can find a downloadable, fillable version of the Schedule J: Your Expenses (and other official bankruptcy forms) on the U.S. Court’s website.  

This article provides general information only. When filing for bankruptcy, you must understand the federal and state laws governing the entire bankruptcy process. Failing to adequately research and understand how these laws might affect your case could result in unexpected consequences. If you aren’t familiar with the process, it's best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, or, use a do-it-yourself book like Nolo's  How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

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