Variable Costing Overview, Examples, and Accounting Formulas

how to calculate variable cost

The finance manager needs to flag up which costs will rise as sales activity increases. Understanding the nuances of variable cost behaviour equips companies to make more informed and strategically sound business decisions. By analyzing how much is spent on producing the product, a manufacturer can set the price for retail so that the company can break even and make profits on the sale of these goods. High operating leverage can benefit companies since more profits are obtained from each incremental dollar of revenue generated beyond the break-even point.

  1. Variable costs earn the name because they can increase and decrease as you make more or less of your product.
  2. To analyze the incremental change in the variable cost (and total cost) at various production levels, we’ll set up a table in Excel that ranges from 100 units to 200 units.
  3. If your pizzeria has a monthly fixed cost total of $1,000 a month, here is what your monthly profits will look like depending on the number of pizzas you sell.
  4. One of those cost profiles is a variable cost that only increases if the quantity of output also increases.
  5. However, below the break-even point, such companies are more limited in their ability to cut costs (since fixed costs generally cannot be cut easily).

Average Variable Cost

In the final part of our Excel exercise, we’ll estimate the total cost, given the two figures determined in the prior two steps. Otherwise, the company must adjust its business model (e.g. increase pricing) because its profit margins will inevitably compress, which is not sustainable over the long run. To find out more on costs, budgeting, accounting and other core financial knowledge, publication 504 divorced or separated individuals look at our Finance for the Non-Financial Manager e-learning course. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. The more products you create, the more employees you might need, which means a bigger payroll, too.

Example of Variable Costing

It represents the variable manufacturing cost incurred for each unit produced or for each unit of service provided. It’s essentially the cost that purchase of equipment journal entry plus examples varies with changes in production or activity levels. The manufacturer’s total fixed cost is $60k, while the variable cost per unit is $100.00.

Free Financial Modeling Lessons

Variable costs are a direct input in the calculation of contribution margin, the amount of proceeds a company collects after using sale proceeds to cover variable costs. Every dollar of contribution margin goes directly to paying for fixed costs; once all fixed costs have been paid for, every dollar of contribution margin contributes to profit. Fixed costs will remain unchanged regardless of how much the company produces or sells. Whether your business makes a huge number of sales or you struggle to close deals, the value of fixed expenses will stay the same. Examples of common fixed costs in business include rent, business insurance, and workplace supplies.

To utilize this equation, you must determine the variable cost per unit (VCU). To analyze the incremental change in the variable cost (and total cost) at various production levels, we’ll set up a table in Excel that ranges from 100 units to 200 units. Generally put, production should continue only if the monetary benefits received from customers (i.e. the price) exceed the fixed costs and variable costs.

In addition, these variable costs fall to zero when you stop making pizzas. For example, if your variable cost per unit is $5 and you’re producing 500 units, your total variable cost would be $2,500. The higher your production output, the higher your variable costs will be for that period. On the other hand, the lower your production output, the lower your variable costs will be. While this may seem fairly straightforward, it can become confusing when dealing with them in real time.

Factors that can influence the value include sales revenues and company output. Examples of variable costs include labor, distribution expenses, and supplies and materials. While it usually makes little sense to compare variable costs across industries, they can be very meaningful when comparing companies operating in the same industry. They denote the amount of money spent on the production of a product or service and are among the most important analyses a business (or consultant) can run. Without understanding these costs, you can’t understand which product/service is most profitable. Once you understand this, you can know where you should be focusing most of your attention.

how to calculate variable cost

If the total variable expenses incurred were $100,000, the variable cost per unit is $100.00 per hour. Both variable and fixed costs are essential to getting a complete picture of how much it costs to produce an item — and how much profit remains after each sale. For example, if you have 10 units of Product A at a variable cost of $60/unit, and 15 units of Product B at a variable cost of $30/unit, you have two different variable costs — $۶۰ and $30.

Costs are fixed for a set level of production or consumption and become variable after this production level is exceeded. In general, it can often be specifically calculated as the sum of the types of variable costs discussed below. Variable costs may need to be allocated across goods if they are incurred in batches (i.e. 100 pounds of raw materials are purchased to manufacture 10,000 finished goods). A variable cost is a corporate expense that changes in proportion to how much a company produces or sells. Variable costs increase or decrease depending on a company’s production or sales volume—they rise as production increases and fall as production decreases. A variable cost will rise and fall depending on sales and production, while fixed costs remain the same.


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