What Are Variable Expenses, and How Do They Affect Your Budget?

The following list contains common examples of variable expenses incurred by companies. Officially, a variable expense is a cost that changes month to month or occurs irregularly. Another example of a variable expense is a retailer’s cost of goods sold. For instance, if a company purchases a product for $30 and is able to sell it for $50, the company’s cost of goods sold will be a constant rate of 60% ($30 / $50). Therefore, when the company has sales of $10,000 the cost of goods will be $6,000.

On the other hand, travel is a variable expense — but in many cases, travel is discretionary. There is another type of expense category that’s referred to as “discretionary expenses.” These are “optional” purchases, such as entertainment and restaurants. For example, sales commissions expense and cost of goods sold will be greater when sales are greater; electricity expense will decrease when machine hours are reduced. The athletic company also won’t incur some types labor if it doesn’t produce more output. Some positions may be salaried; whether output is 100,000 units or 0 units, certain employees will receive the same amount of compensation.

  • One of the key differences between variable and fixed expenses is that fixed expenses are often necessary to keep your business running, while variable expenses can be more discretionary.
  • You could also combine this with general knowledge gleaned from the internet.
  • Raw materials are the direct goods purchased that are eventually turned into a final product.
  • We excluded payments made to cover minimum payments to cards with a lower APR than Tally or to cards that were in a grace period at the time of payment.
  • If you sell physical products, your shipping expenses will vary depending on the weight and size of the items you’re sending, as well as the shipping distance.

She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and has worked in the newsrooms of KUT and the Austin Chronicle. When not working, she is probably paddle boarding, hopping on a flight or reading for her book club. Variable expenses can include essential expenses as well as discretionary spending. For instance, if you get sick, then a doctor visit may be a necessity that you need to cover. On the other hand, a discretionary expense means anything you budget money for or spend money on that you don’t necessarily need.

Fixed expenses vs. variable expenses

The most common examples of fixed costs include lease and rent payments, property tax, certain salaries, insurance, depreciation, and interest payments. By expressing the variable expense ratio as a percentage of sales revenue, businesses can assess the impact of variable costs on their profitability. Analyzing the variable expense ratio is helpful for budgeting, cost control, and decision-making.

  • However, you can’t reduce the rent or insurance costs, as they’re a necessary category of costs to keep your business running.
  • Or you could rely on the good old envelope budgeting method, creating different envelopes for income and expenses.
  • A surprise bill or a holiday season that’s more expensive than expected could easily break your budget and cause you to reach for a credit card.
  • This allows the business to set the pricing of products and provide goals & profitability projections.
  • Variable costs are the types of expenses that are a little harder to predict because they either don’t occur regularly or the amount changes.

Marginal costs can include variable costs because they are part of the production process and expense. Variable costs change based on the level of production, which means there is also a marginal cost in the total cost of production. As with all expenses, find out how variable expenses affect your overall financial health. First, track your monthly spending and deduct the total from your income.

These are fixed expenses that are consistently the same, but don’t occur every month. When setting prices, one should ensure that at least the variable expenses are included in the price. That way, a business will not lose money when each unit of a product is sold. Some fixed expenses are what are known as “periodic fixed expenses.” These expenses are fixed and regular, but don’t occur monthly—they may occur quarterly or annually instead, for example.

Definition of Fixed Expenses

It can also help you prepare for other monthly expenditures, such as debt repayment or saving for future expenses. It may be easier to budget for fixed expenses first because you know how much these cost. But it’s more important to make sure you’re budgeting for essential expenses, which might include both fixed and variable expenses.

Examples of Variable Expenses

The envelope system may help you avoid overspending on variable costs because you have a designated amount for each expense. On the other hand, you might use the “pay yourself first” budget to prioritize savings or the zero-based budget to ensure your money goes toward various goals. Variable costs are any expenses that change based on how much a company produces and sells.

Variable expenses examples

Variable expenses commonly include materials, labor, and direct overhead for producing goods or services. Unlike fixed expenses, which remain constant, variable expenses can change depending on a variety of factors, such as usage or consumption. Examples of variable expenses include groceries, utility bills, entertainment, and clothing. This analysis helps you make informed decisions to optimize your restaurant’s profitability. If rising credit card interest rates are causing your variable expenses to increase, Tally can help with its line of credit1. Not only does the line of credit offer a stable interest rate that’s lower than most credit cards, but Tally also manages all your credit card payments for you and offers custom payoff plans.

If you pay for a gym membership or streaming services, for example, those costs might stay the same month to month. A fixed expense just means an expense in your budget that you can expect to stay the same, or close to it, over time. When you sit down to make your monthly budget, you don’t have to guess how much you’ll pay toward fixed expenses. Because variable costs scale alongside, cpa fees in 2020 how much does a cpa cost prices rates per hour fee schedule every unit of output will theoretically have the same amount of variable costs. Therefore, total variable costs can be calculated by multiplying the total quantity of output by the unit variable cost. The more fixed costs a company has, the more revenue a company needs to generate to be able to break even, which means it needs to work harder to produce and sell its products.

These types of expenses are composed of both fixed and variable components. They are fixed up to a certain production level, after which they become variable. It’s easy to separate the two, as fixed costs occur on a regular basis while variable ones change as a result of production output and the overall volume of activity that takes place.

Revisit your spending

For example, say your neighborhood bakery is famous for its $1 mini muffins. You might normally treat yourself to one muffin each week, spending $4 on average per month, but some months you might indulge more and spend $10 or $15. ​Let’s consider a hypothetical example in the restaurant industry to demonstrate how to calculate and analyze the variable expense ratio. A cell phone bill is a fixed expense because you know how much it will cost each month and can depend on when it will come due. And while you can reduce buying treats or fun snack items at the store, groceries are a variable expense that is necessary and challenging to project. And while insurance is considered a fixed rate, you can shop around for other carriers, change your coverage or increase your deductible.

If a business increased production or decreased production, rent will stay exactly the same. Although fixed costs can change over a period of time, the change will not be related to production, and as such, fixed costs are viewed as long-term costs. 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. Budget your fixed expenses first, because they make up the majority of your budget and are usually set for longer periods of time.

Optional variable expenses

This requires you to be mindful of your spending, so you can stay within budget. If you don’t have your own historical data on a variable expense, you could check with friends, family members and neighbors to see what they spend on average. You could also combine this with general knowledge gleaned from the internet. YNAB’s easy-to-use budgeting app makes it simple to turn those 100-lb sharks into less scary, smaller sharks by giving you clear goals to save for each month. At YNAB we call those predictable yet somehow unexpected budget burglars (like holiday expenses, annual subscriptions, and car repairs) True Expenses and we have a plan for managing them. For instance, your heating bill is a variable expense (it’s likely higher in the winter than the summer), but it wouldn’t be considered discretionary.

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