How do I complete the expense portion of the Income and Expense Declaration?  When I will be the one moving out and want it to reflect my true needs?  It may seem scary and daunting when looking at a blank legal form!  Let’s make it easier for you. Here are some tips to help you get it done well.

  • Start by researching rents for the size home in the location where you want to live.  Or if you plan to buy a new home, call a mortgage broker or visit your banker for their ideas of your needs for a down payment, current interest rates, and likely monthly payments. 
  • Review several months’ worth of checking account and credit card statements for utility charges such as phone, internet, gas and electric, water, cell phone, alarm service, and Cable TV.  If there is a wide fluctuation in monthly charges for each category, average several months worth to get a better sense of a needed amount.
  • Consider the difference in home sizes and those who might also live with you to determine if these amounts need to be revised upward or downward.  Think about calling a utility company to ask for average charges based on location.
  • For other costs such as groceries, restaurants, hair appointments, gasoline, child care, dry cleaning, laundry, manicures, etc., think about how many times per week or month you incur each of these expenses and about how much you spend each time.  Then if you have a firm weekly amount, multiply that amount by 4.5 weeks to arrive at a monthly figure.
  • For irregularly paid expenses that you might pay once, twice, or maybe four times per year for such expenses as property taxes or auto or property insurance, review the invoice and divide by the number of months of coverage.
  • For all other expenses, estimate to the best of your ability.  For peace of mind, take your completed draft form to a divorce financial professional who can issue spot expenses you may have overlooked and help you feel comfortable that you have included all items.

Going through this exercise will empower you with the knowledge of your financial needs.  It may seem like an overwhelming chore before you start, but you will be glad to have the information when you finish.

Judith F. Sterling is a CPA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and Collaborative Financial Specialist practicing in Sonoma and Marin Counties.  

Photo Credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.