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Variable Cost Definition Calculation Example Finance Strategists

Variable Cost Definition

Together with fixed costs, they form the foundation of all corporate expenses. Even in the top business schools we teach at, there is some confusion over what exactly is defined as a variable cost. Our goal is to provide an overview of these costs, how to calculate them, and what they are used for. To determine the total variable cost, simply multiply the cost per unit with the number of units produced. Variable costs stand in contrast with fixed costs since fixed costs do not change directly based on production volume. To determine total variable cost, simply multiply the cost per unit with the number of units produced. Variable costs change from week to week and month to month, depending on what the business is doing.

Variable Cost Definition

One of the most important factors in making such predictions is determining the proportion of fixed costs to variable costs. Costs that vary depending on production and sales volumes will significantly affect the company’s profitability. Variable costs stand in contrast with fixed costs, since fixed costs do not change directly based on production volume. Between variable and fixed costs are semi-variable costs (also known as semi-fixed or mixed costs). Costs incurred by businesses consist of fixed and variable costs.

Example of Variable Costs

Variable cost-plus pricing is a pricing method whereby the selling price is established by adding a markup to total variable costs. When production or sales increase, variable costs increase; when production or sales decrease, variable costs decrease. Assume that a website business sells a product and requires the customer to pay with a credit card. The credit card processor charges the business a fee of 3% of each amount charged. Therefore, if the business has sales of $10,000 in the month of June, the business will have a credit card expense of $300. If July’s sales are $30,000 the credit card expense will be $900.

What is fixed cost example?

What Are Some Examples of Fixed Costs? Common examples of fixed costs include rental lease or mortgage payments, salaries, insurance payments, property taxes, interest expenses, depreciation, and some utilities.

Yet at 10 televisions, its costs increase in line with the number it produces. To explain, each additional good a business produces represents a variable cost. For example, McDonald’s will have a variable cost it pays to produce each Big Mac. For each one it produces, there are costs in the form of ingredients, such as the hamburger, bun, lettuce, gherkin, and other ingredients.

More about running your business

Explore the formula of variable costs, review key examples, and discover how variable costs fit into categorizing Variable Cost Definition costs. Variable cost is a business expense that rises or falls in direct proportion to production volume.

  • One way to reduce car usage is to increase the variable cost of using a car.
  • Businesses with high variable costs such as contract consulting work have lower margins than other companies but also lower break even points, according to Business Dictionary.
  • Whether a firm makes sales or not, it must pay its fixed costs, as these costs are independent of output.
  • A variable cost is any corporate expense that changes along with changes in production volume.
  • Beauty is looking for help because it wants to better understand its cost structure.
  • As such, it may spread the fixed cost of the lease at $10 per mug.

Fluctuations in sales and production levels can affect variable costs if factors such as sales commissions are included in per-unit production costs. Meanwhile, fixed costs must still be paid even if production slows down significantly. Examples of a variable cost are temporary labor and materials that are used to produce goods. Variable costs contrast with fixed costs, which don’t vary with production or sales levels. For example, a manufacturing plant has fixed costs of rent, depreciation, and insurance. These expenses will continue to be incurred even if the plant closes for a two-week holiday.

Packaging materials

Sales of $400,000 will result in total sales commission expense of $20,000. A variable cost is a constant amount per unit produced or used. Therefore, the total amount of the variable cost will change proportionately with the change in volume or activity. An expense is variable when its total amount changes in proportion to the change in sales, production, or some other activity. In other words, a variable expense increases when an activity increases, and it decreases when the activity decreases. It is important to ensure that revenue increases at a higher rate than expenses. For example, if a company reports a volume increase of 8%, but the amount of sales increases by only 5% over the same period, then each product sold would most likely be underpriced.

Variable Cost Definition

This is the amount that workers get paid for every unit they complete or sell. Employee input typically determines the cost of piece-rate labor. This cost also increases or decreases along with the rate of production.

variable cost

For example, let’s say that Company ABC has a lease of $10,000 a month on its production facility and produces 1,000 mugs per month. As such, it may spread the fixed cost of the lease at $10 per mug. If it produces 10,000 mugs a month, the fixed cost of the lease goes down to the tune of $1 per mug. One important point to note about variable costs is that they differ between industries so it’s not at all useful to compare the variable costs of a car manufacturer and an appliance manufacturer. Technically, shutdown occurs if marginal revenue is below average variable cost at the profit-maximizing output. This can be illustrated by graphing the short run total cost curve and the short run variable cost curve.

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In other words, an increase in output elevates costs, while reduced output leads to a decrease in costs. In contrast, fixed costs remain the same regardless of production or manufacturing output. Therefore, variable costs could be considered direct costs of production volume, rising in response to the increase in production and decreasing with lower production. Variable cost is an accounting term used when calculating a company’s production expenses. Determining the variable costs involved in operating a business is essential to maintain efficiency and profitability.

Variable Cost – A Practical Exercise

Examples of fixed costs are employee wages, building costs, and insurance. Sales commissions, for example, are also considered variable because the size of a commission is tied to the volume of products sold by an employee. Many variable costs, such as inventory and freight, go up in line with the number of sales a business is making. Investments in marketing, trade shows, and sales travel might be intended to drive up sales, but they won’t always match up perfectly.

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