How do I calculate my monthly living expenses?

September 14, 2016

If you’ve entered into a Scottish Trust Deed or other personal insolvency procedure, and are worried about how you’re going to manage the bills, making a budget is one of the most important steps to take.

Although it takes a little time and effort, once finished it will make everything much easier to manage, and can literally transform your outlook on life during this stressful time.

So let us help you build a budget that keeps you in control, ensures sure you have enough money for life’s essentials, and prevents you sliding into further debt.

A detailed budget is the key

The first step in making a budget is to collect together all your household bills for the past year, as well as bank statements and receipts for your living expenses. Some of the categories below give an indication of the general limits set by insolvency practitioners, to help you to complete the budget.

Here’s what you’ll need to include:

Mortgage/rent payments

Multiply a weekly rent by 4.33 to arrive at the figure you’ll need to include in your monthly budget.


Electricity and gas

Energy costs can be difficult to calculate as they vary over the months, so the best way to approach this is to work out how much you’ve spent on energy in the past year. You can then divide this figure by twelve to reach your average monthly payment.


Water bills can be paid monthly, half-yearly (divide your bill by six) or once a year (divide it by 12).


Council tax

Payment options for council tax are generally once a year, or over 10 or 12 instalments. Paying over a full calendar year rather than having a payment break for two months could ease your cash flow, however.


Home insurance

All mortgage lenders require buildings insurance, but it’s also important to have contents insurance in the event of a fire, or burglary for example.

Landline, mobile and internet provider

The general limits for your budget are:

£46-£54 single person

£57-£70 couple, no children

£6-£7 for each child

You’ll also need to include the cost of your TV licence.



This category includes the cost of food, as well as cleaning products and toiletries:

£100-£200 single person

£185-£325 couple, no children

£55-£80 for each child



Clothing and footwear are considered luxury items, and the maximum allowed for is:

£12-£30 single person

£22-£47 couple, no children

£9-£13 for each child

Meals at work and school

The allowable budget for meals at work, and for your children in school, is around £36 for adults and £35 for children.

Travel and transport

If you travel by public transport, multiply your daily cost by the number of days you travel during the month. Car owners will need to factor in a range of costs, including:

  • Petrol: £130-£167 single person, or a couple with no children
  • Road tax: £17 per car each month
  • Car insurance
  • Maintenance: £22 per car per month, including servicing


Travel to school by public transport can also be included. To arrive at an accurate monthly figure, take the daily cost and multiply by five, multiply this figure by 38 (the number of weeks in an academic year), and then divide by twelve to reach your monthly budget figure.


The cost for food and pet insurance should not be more than £23 per month.

Childcare and child maintenance payments

Paying weekly for childcare or child maintenance means you need to multiply the figure by 4.33 to reach an accurate monthly amount.

Rental of white goods/TV

Budget according to the figure on your contract.



The limit for prescriptions equates to one prescription per month, and for dental and optical treatment it is:

£14 single person

£15 couple, no children


Home maintenance and repairs

This should cover the cost of emergency plumbing, for example, or servicing/maintenance of your boiler:

£15 single person

£25 couple, no children


A very small budget is allowable for entertainment/hobbies:

£11-£17 single person

£16-£22 couple, no children

£6-£11 each child

Contingency for emergencies

A pot for minor emergencies such as having to take a taxi rather than the bus, should be included in your budget.


Miscellaneous items could include buying a newspaper, or the cost of laundry/dry cleaning. Limits are set at:

£10 laundry/dry cleaning

£5 newspapers and magazines

For more help in developing your budget, call one of the team at Scotland Debt Solutions. We work to help Scottish residents escape debt, and have five offices around the country.

John Baird

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 0800 063 9250

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