Fixed vs. Variable Costs: Definitions and Examples

Variable costs change based on the amount of output produced. Variable costs may include labor, commissions, and raw materials. Fixed costs remain the same regardless of production output. Fixed costs may include lease and rental payments, insurance, and interest payments.

Fixed Costs vs Variable Costs

What are variable costs?

Variable costs are those that fluctuate depending on how many goods and services the company produces. Variable costs increase with increased production and decrease with decreased production. For each item produced, the variable cost of production is a fixed sum that varies according to production. Some examples of variable costs are:

What are fixed costs?

Fixed costs are indirect expenses that don’t change in response to changes in the volume of goods or services a company produces. Fixed costs are predetermined expenses that a business must pay and usually have a time component. Examples of fixed costs include:

Every business has certain fixed costs, regardless of production. These fixed costs are simpler to budget for because they are constant throughout the year. However, they are less under your control than variable costs because they are unrelated to the volume of production or operations. A company must generate more revenue to break even the more its fixed costs are.

Fixed cost vs variable cost

Costs play a significant role in determining a company’s overall profitability, and its total cost structure is made up of both fixed and variable expenses. The main distinctions between fixed and variable costs are as follows:

Impacted by production

Regardless of the company’s output level, fixed costs are constant. Variable costs are directly correlated with changes in volume or level of business activity. Even in the absence of any business activity, the company must still pay its fixed costs. Variable costs rise when production rises, and they fall when production declines.

Nature of the expense

Fixed costs are related to time. In other words, they remain constant over time, and businesses are aware that they must plan for those fixed costs because they will be due at predetermined intervals. Variable costs are quantity-related and change in proportion to output.

Importance of learning differences

It’s critical for businesses to comprehend how operating expenses alter as output levels and volume change. Knowing how expenses are broken down can help you make decisions about other elements of your business strategy, such as how much to charge for your goods and services.

Utilizing different costing techniques, such as activity-based costing, process costing, and job order costing, requires a thorough understanding of fixed and variable costs. You should be able to distinguish between these two costs because of the following two factors in particular:

Break-even analysis

The point at which your costs and revenue are equal is known as the break-even point. You can calculate how many sales you must make or how many units of a product you must sell in order to cover all of your variable and fixed costs by performing a break-even analysis. To calculate the break-even point, you can use the formula:

Volume required to break even = Fixed Costs / (Price – Variable Costs)

Using this, you can decide whether you need to increase your pricing. It also enables you to determine whether or not it is possible to expand your business. For instance, while purchasing additional warehouse space might enable you to increase output, it might also significantly raise fixed costs, making the volume you would need to sell unfeasible.

Economies of scale

Economies of scale are the cost benefits businesses experience as production becomes more efficient. Businesses can achieve economies of scale by expanding their production and reducing their fixed and variable costs. Typically, the more money a business can save when scaling, the bigger it is Economies of scale can happen both internally and externally. While internal economies of scale result from management decisions, external economies of scale are related to external factors.

Finding economies of scale can be aided by an understanding of fixed and variable costs. Once you’ve determined what your fixed costs are, you can look at how they’re distributed across a larger volume of output. This enables you to appreciate the financial benefits of raising production.

Operating leverage

How well a company’s revenue growth translates into higher operating income is determined by its operating leverage. How risky or unstable a company’s operating income is is determined by its operating leverage. Operating leverage is influenced by the ratio of fixed to variable costs. A company can make more money for each unit it produces and sells if it has a higher operating leverage.

The formula for calculating operating leverage is:

Operating leverage is equal to [number of units (price per unit – variable cost per unit)] / [number of units (price per unit-variable cost per unit) – fixed cost].

Tips for reducing fixed costs

Naturally, the more costs you can cut, the more profitable your business will be. However, a problem that many businesses encounter is the inability to reduce variable costs without compromising quality. Nevertheless, there are times when you can take action to lower fixed costs, such as:


What distinguishes between fixed and variable costs?

Differentiating between fixed and variable costs is a necessary step in developing a budget. Fixed costs include those that largely remain constant, like your rent or mortgage payment each month. Variable costs include those that fluctuate or are unforeseen, such as restaurant bills or auto maintenance

What are examples of variable costs?

Variable costs are costs that change as the volume changes. Raw materials, piece-rate labor, production supplies, commissions, delivery costs, packaging supplies, and credit card fees are a few examples of variable costs. The variable costs of production are sometimes referred to as the “Cost of Goods Sold” in accounting statements. ”.

What is a fixed cost example?

Examples of Fixed Costs Rental lease payments, salaries, insurance, property taxes, interest costs, depreciation, and possibly some utilities are just a few examples of fixed costs. For instance, a new business owner would probably start with fixed expenses like rent and management salaries.

Is fixed or variable cost better?

Fixed costs are simpler to budget because they remain constant over the course of the fiscal year. Due to the fact that they are unrelated to operations or volume, they are also less predictable than variable costs. However, variable costs fluctuate over a predetermined time period and are directly related to the business activity.

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