How to Estimate Food and Clothing Expenses

Estimating expenses during divorceDuring the divorce process it is vitally important to develop a budget. A significant part of that budget concerns clothing and food.

The Calculations

When you are developing a budget, the usual way of allowing for clothing and food is to go back over the purchases you and your spouse have made for a specified length of time. You may add up, for instance, how much you spent over the last year for food and related expenses and then divide the total by the number of people generating those expenses. 


This method is simple, but there are variables that can affect its precision. If one member of the family accounts for a greater expenditure than others, such as frequent dinners in expensive restaurants, the above method may be affected. Consider the following illustration:

Total expenditures for food and beverages for a married couple for the last year they were together (prior to separation) came to $6,000. Food costs budgeted by the wife are for herself and her two children. The calculation would then be: $6,000/4 x 3 = $4,500, or the total divided by the number of people in the household, and that multiplied by the number of people covered under this budget. This does not account for restaurants, or the consumption a greater amount of expensive food or drink by one or another member of the family.

Clothing and related expenses

It is not easy to make estimates for such things as clothing or items related to personal care. These expenditures are often blurred between basic necessities and luxuries given the influence of style and fashion. There can be a vast difference in expenditure between clothing chosen to protect oneself from the elements and clothing chosen to make a fashion statement or for special occasions.

Theory of budgeting

Normally, needs take precedence over wants. Those items that are necessary for everyday living are considered at a greater priority than those that reflect one’s standard of living (a plain wool coat to keep the cold out or a coat with a designer’s label and a fur collar). Standard of living issues can be considered as adjustments that are calculated into the marital estate or provided for via alimony income. 

Keeping Sight of the Goal

Ultimately, you will need to prepare a budget that is sensible, workable and equable for all concerned. It is not feasible to include every expense that ever was or may ever be incurred. By making judicious use of averages, estimates and generalizations, a logical and practicable budget can be developed.