Fixed vs Variable Costs with Industry Examples

Falling under the category of cost of goods sold (COGS), your total variable cost is the amount of money you spend to produce and sell your products or services. That includes labor costs (direct labor) and raw materials (direct materials). To understand the difference between fixed and variable costs, let’s say you own a small business that manufactures widgets. The cost of raw materials needed to make each widget is a variable cost because it fluctuates with production volume.

  1. By analyzing variable and fixed cost prices, companies can make better decisions on whether to invest in Property, Plant, and Equipment (PPE).
  2. Fixed costs do not change with production volume while variable costs do.
  3. Therefore, using the high-low method, we estimate the variable cost per unit is $12 and fixed costs are $35,000.

If the athletic brand doesn’t make the shoes, it won’t incur the cost of leather, synthetic mesh, canvas, or other raw materials. In general, a company should spend roughly the same amount on raw materials for every unit produced assuming no major differences in manufacturing one unit versus another. Up to this point, we have been talking primarily about manufacturing businesses. Walmart and Target also have fixed and variable expenses that are incurred in the operation of their business, as do all other retail outlets, including online stores. All sunk costs are fixed costs in financial accounting, but not all fixed costs are considered to be sunk. The defining characteristic of sunk costs is that they cannot be recovered.

Don’t stress if you do not clearly understand the concept of the two and the difference between them. The higher management can look for opportunities to bring down certain variable costs like labor and utilities. By cutting down certain costs, the total cost of the company can also be reduced significantly.

Prior to Newsweek, he worked at Bankrate as the lead editor for small business loans and as a credit cards writer and editor. He has also written and edited for, The Points Guy and The Motley Fool Ascent. Fixed cost is usually graphed fixed and variable costs examples with a horizontal line, since there is no variability in it. A company will always try to reduce costs to the minimum necessary for its growth. They usually pay a set fee for website design, website hosting, and search engine optimization.

Examples of fixed costs for restaurants

This cost advantage is established in the fact that as output increases, fixed costs are spread over a larger number of output items. Fixed costs are those expenses that remain constant regardless of how much or how little you produce. In other words, they’re not directly affected by changes in production volume. Fixed costs include rent/mortgage, insurance, property taxes, interest on loans, depreciation, legal fees, and accounting fees. It’s easy to separate the two, as fixed costs occur regularly while variable costs change due to production output and the overall production volume. An example of a semi-variable cost can be the electricity bill for your business.

Module 6: Cost Behavior Patterns

This may hold true for tangible products going into a good as well as labor costs (i.e. it may cost overtime rates if a certain amount of hours are worked). Consider wholesale bulk pricing that prices goods by tiers based on quantity ordered. For instance, someone who starts a new business would likely begin with fixed expenses for rent and management salaries. All types of companies have fixed-cost agreements that they monitor regularly. While these fixed costs may change over time, the change is not related to production levels. Instead, changes can stem from new contractual agreements or schedules.

What Are Fixed and Variable Costs?

For each sale of a unit of product or service, one unit of variable cost is incurred. Unlike fixed expenses, you can control your variable expenses to leave room for profits. Fixed cost remains unmoving for a long period of time while variable cost keeps changing based on the expenditures and assets of the company. Whether you are part of a company or run a business yourself – cost is a fundamental brick without which no company can ever run!

A step cost occurs when a variable or fixed cost crosses the boundary of the relevant range, making it jump up suddenly. If the relevant range is fairly wide, accountants may refer to the increasing cost as a “step-fixed” cost. If the relevant range is fairly narrow, it could be called a “step-variable” cost (see video below). In any case, like mixed costs, a step cost is a variation of the basic behavior categories of fixed or variable. In contrast, combining fixed and variable costs could help you determine your break-even point or the spot at which the cost of making and selling things equals zero. The quantity of raw resources needed to produce each product increases as sales volume increases.

A corporation may need to reduce fluctuating prices for raw materials, direct labour, and advertising if it wants to boost profits by lowering variable expenses. The quality of the products or service shouldn’t be compromised throughout the cost-cutting process, though, since this would hurt sales. A company can raise its gross profit margin by lowering its variable expenses.

Fixed Expenses vs. Variable Expenses: What Is the Difference?

Once the overall cost is out of the way, the organization can have a better understanding of other costs to sustain production. It helps make informed choices with respect to prices of raw material and manufacturing products. It helps the management understand what levels of production to pull in.

An Overview of Fixed Cost

Variable costs, on the other hand, increase or decrease with production volume; examples include raw materials and labor. For purposes of analysis, mixed costs are separated into their fixed and variable components. When it’s time to cut costs, variable expenses are the first place you turn. The lower your total variable cost, the less it costs you to provide your product or service.

Elizabeth is a freelance contributor to Newsweek’s personal finance team, with a focus on insurance. She has more than four years of experience covering insurance and has written hundreds of articles for publications and insurance companies. If we graph the data points we have and then apply a best-fit line to the data, we can see that our formula looks reasonable within a relevant range. The blue Xs are our data points, and the dashed line is what our formula predicts based on various levels of output. Your company hires college students as independent contractors to assemble the books, paying them $2.00 for each journal assembled. Workers are expected to produce up to 25 journals per hour, so the hourly rate is respectable if the student works steadily.