How to Manage Variable and Fixed Expenses

How to Manage Variable and Fixed Expenses

Not everyone knows what variable and fixed expenses are. However, identifying your variable and fixed expenses is extremely important when you want to start budgeting, saving money, or working toward your financial goals. Doing this can also help you figure out why you feel like you are not saving enough money or want better control over your finances. Of course, if your financial situation is leading to bankruptcy, consider asking a Chattanooga bankruptcy lawyer for help.


Identifying variable and fixed expenses can help you gain more control over your finances. Fixed expenses are predictable payments you have to make each month. These payments are not expected to change and are generally due on the same date each month.

Variable expenses change from month to month depending on multiple factors. These expenses are less likely to be bills and more likely to be grocery and entertainment expenses. Other examples of variable expenses may include credit card bills that vary based on how much you spend in a given month and unexpected medical bills.

It can be helpful to make a list of fixed expenses and a list of variable expenses. Each person’s list will vary based on their bills and financial obligations. Your list of fixed expenses might include monthly payments for insurance, your car, and your home, while someone else’s fixed expenses might consist of the electric bill and a subscription service payment.

A list of variable expenses might include going out to eat, clothing, food, gas, and groceries. Gas is an expense some people might think would be a fixed expense, but what makes gas a variable expense is that gas prices can change from month to month. The amount of gas used each month might also vary by the amount spent on gas each month.

Once you have these two lists of expenses made, you can start adding them up. A fixed expenses list will give you a reasonably accurate and stable predictor of the spending you know you will have to do each month. In contrast, the variable expenses list will be more of an estimate.


To manage your monthly expenses, add up your two lists to find an average monthly spending estimate. From this, you can start creating a monthly budget by first separating another list called discretionary expenses.

Discretionary expenses include any spending you do not have to do, such as entertainment. Subtract your monthly spending estimate from your monthly income. If you do not have as much money leftover as you would like, consider removing spending items from your discretionary expenses list. Ask yourself what you are willing to let go of, even temporarily, to advance your financial goals and needs. Continue this process to manage your monthly expenses.


You might not have to go through bankruptcy alone. Call us at Tom Bible Law today at (423) 690-7712 for a consultation about your financial situation. Our experienced team of Tennessee bankruptcy lawyers is prepared to help you assess your financial options with bankruptcy. We serve clients in the Tennessee cities of Chattanooga and Tullahoma.