variable cost definition

For the examples of these variable costs below, consider the manufacturing and distribution processes for a major athletic apparel producer. When you determine the annual average for a variable cost, avoid the temptation to only look at the past 12 months. Spend time reviewing the average of three years’ worth of variable costs. Salary is a fixed cost, which doesn’t vary based on production or revenue.

Conversely, during periods of decreased production, variable costs decline accordingly. Additionally, the concept of economies of scale comes into play, wherein higher production volumes often lead to lower per-unit variable costs. When production increases, variable costs will rise proportionately and vice versa.

How to Calculate Total Variable Costs

This results from having a lower break-even point and reduced fixed costs. For example, if your total variable cost is $10,000 and your output is 2,000 units, your average variable cost is $5. Whenever there is a change in the variable cost definition production cost, you’ll have a marginal cost. Because of this, marginal costs exist whenever there are variable costs. Overhead is not a variable cost, since overhead costs will be incurred, irrespective of production levels.

variable cost definition

For example, the total variable cost for 10,000 units produced at a per-unit cost of $2.57 would be $25,700. (This cost per unit is often referred to as average variable cost, as it’s calculated by dividing total variable cost by the number of units produced). Notice that the piano company producing fewer pianos can decrease variable costs, but lower levels of production cannot decrease fixed costs.

Advantages of Variable Costs

Variable cost is a constant value that causes price fluctuations as earnings and quantity supplied increase and decrease. Transaction fees and delivery charges are examples of variable costs. Young firms with greater monthly expenditures are not the same as those with heavy investment, such as housing and security, which do not alter with earnings and production. Organizations with strong overhead expenses must generate very little to maintain level, but their profitability is narrower than those with high maintenance costs. Why is variable cost important to understand for prospective consultants?

  • Industries with high fixed costs, like airlines, are less vulnerable to competition.
  • For instance, increasing output using the same amount of material can dramatically cut down costs, provided the quality of goods isn’t impacted.
  • A company must still pay its rent for the space it occupies to run its business operations irrespective of the volume of products manufactured and sold.
  • Understanding the concept of contribution margin, which is the difference between revenue and variable costs per unit of output, becomes crucial.
  • In the intricate realm of business operations, understanding the concept of Variable Cost is paramount to achieving sustainable success.

If your product has a proportionately lower variable cost than its selling price, then it has a high contribution margin. While variable cost and average variable cost may seem the same, each cost means something completely different. The difference between variable and average variable costs is that the average variable cost represents a comparison of total variable costs to your output. A variable cost will vary with changes in activity volume, while a fixed cost will not.

Meaning of variable cost in English

The resulting value reveals the total variable costs incurred during a specific production or sales period. To calculate the total variable costs for a business you have to take into account all the labor and materials needed to produce one unit of a product or service. The total variable cost formula can then be described as the total quantity of output times the variable cost per unit of output. Be careful that you don’t mix up variable cost with variable costing, which is an accounting method used to report variable cost. To calculate variable costs, first, determine the total quantity of output (or sales) during the given period.

  • As you delve into the world of enterprise economics, you’ll quickly realize that not all costs are created equal.
  • Marginal costs are not considered fixed costs because, with fixed costs, there is no change in the cost of production unit over unit.
  • Profit-maximizing manufacturing companies use the AVC to help them decide at which time they should end the production for a specific good.
  • Transaction fees and delivery charges are examples of variable costs.
  • Variable Costs are output-dependent and subject to fluctuations based on the production output, so there is a direct linkage between variable costs and production volume.

These articles and related content is not a substitute for the guidance of a lawyer (and especially for questions related to GDPR), tax, or compliance professional. When in doubt, please consult your lawyer tax, or compliance professional for counsel. Sage makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness or accuracy of this article and related content. Join our Sage City community to speak with business people like you. At the end of each month, go back and compare what you ended up spending to what your estimates. Note if you were over-budget or under-budget for each expense category.

The following list contains common examples of variable expenses incurred by companies. Perform regular cost reviews to track the effectiveness of your cost management strategies. Benchmark your variable costs against industry standards and best practices to identify areas for improvement. Constantly seeking ways to refine your approach ensures ongoing success in managing variable costs effectively.

variable cost definition