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Variable Cost

Variable Cost

What Is a Variable Cost?

A variable cost is a corporate expense that changes with respect to how much a company delivers or sells. Variable costs increase or lessening contingent upon a company's production or sales volume — they rise as production increases and fall as production diminishes.

Instances of variable costs incorporate a manufacturing company's costs of raw materials and bundling — or a retail company's credit card transaction fees or delivery expenses, which rise or fall with sales. A variable cost can be stood out from a fixed cost.

Grasping Variable Costs

The total expenses incurred by any business comprise of variable and fixed costs. Variable costs are dependent on production output or sales. The variable cost of production is a steady amount for every unit created. As the volume of production and output increases, variable costs will likewise increase. Alternately, when less products are delivered, the variable costs associated with production will subsequently diminish.

Instances of variable costs are sales commissions, direct labor costs, cost of raw materials utilized in production, and utility costs.

Variable costs are typically seen as short-term costs as they can be adjusted rapidly.

Step by step instructions to Calculate Variable Costs

The total variable cost is just the quantity of output duplicated by the variable cost per unit of output:

Total Variable Cost = Total Quantity of Output X Variable Cost Per Unit of Output

Variable Costs versus Fixed Costs

Fixed costs are expenses that continue as before paying little heed to production output. Regardless of whether a firm makes sales, it must pay its fixed costs, as these costs are independent of output.

Instances of fixed costs are rent, employee salaries, insurance, and office supplies. A company must in any case pay its rent for the space it possesses to run its business operations regardless of the volume of products manufactured and sold. In the event that a business increased production or diminished production, rent will remain the very same. Albeit fixed costs can change throughout some undefined time frame, the change won't be connected with production, and in that capacity, fixed costs are seen as long-term costs.

There is likewise a category of costs that falls among fixed and variable costs, known as semi-variable costs (otherwise called semi-fixed costs or mixed costs). These are costs made out of a combination of both fixed and variable parts. Costs are fixed for a set level of production or consumption and become variable after this production level is surpassed. On the off chance that no production happens, a fixed cost is in many cases actually incurred.

As a rule, companies with a high extent of variable costs relative to fixed costs are viewed as less unstable, as their profits are more dependent on the outcome of their sales.

Illustration of a Variable Cost

We should expect that it costs a bread kitchen $15 to make a cake — $5 for raw materials like sugar, milk, and flour, and $10 for the direct labor engaged with making one cake. The table below shows how the variable costs change as the number of cakes baked shift.

   1 cake 2 cakes 7 cakes 10 cakes 0 cakes
 Cost of sugar, flour, butter, and milk $5 $10 $35 $50 $0
 Direct labor $10 $20 $70 $100 $0
 Total variable cost $15 $30 $105 $150 $0
As the production output of cakes increases, the bread shop's variable costs likewise increase. At the point when the bread shop heats no cake, its variable costs drop to zero.

Fixed costs and variable costs comprise the total cost. Total cost is a determinant of a company's profits, which is calculated as:
Profits=SalesTotal Costs\begin &\text = Sales - Total~Costs\ \end
A company can increase its profits by decreasing its total costs. Since fixed costs are more difficult to cut down (for instance, decreasing rent might involve the company moving to a less expensive location), most businesses try to reduce their variable costs. Decreasing costs ordinarily means decreasing variable costs.

In the event that the bread shop sells each cake for $35, its gross profit per cake will be $35 - $15 = $20. To work out the net profit, the fixed costs must be deducted from the gross profit. Accepting the bread kitchen causes month to month fixed costs of $900, which incorporates utilities, rent, and insurance, its month to month profit will seem to be this:

Number SoldTotal Variable CostTotal Fixed CostTotal CostSalesProfit
20 Cakes$300$900$1,200$700$(500)
45 Cakes$675$900$1,575$1,575$0
50 Cakes$750$900$1,650$1,750$100
100 Cakes$1,500$900$2,400$3,500$1,100
A business causes a loss when fixed costs are higher than gross profits. In the pastry kitchen's case, it has gross profits of $700 - $300 = $400 when it sells just 20 cakes every month. Since its fixed cost of $900 is higher than $400, it would lose $500 in sales. The break-even point happens when fixed costs equivalent the [gross margin](/grossmargin), bringing about no profits or loss. In this case, when the bread kitchen sells 45 cakes for total variable costs of $675, it breaks even.

A company that tries to increase its profit by decreasing variable costs might have to cut down on fluctuating costs for raw materials, direct labor, and advertising. Nonetheless, the cost cut shouldn't influence product or service quality as this would antagonistically affect sales. By diminishing its variable costs, a business increases its gross profit margin or contribution margin.

The contribution margin permits management to determine how much revenue and profit can be earned from every unit of product sold. The contribution margin is calculated as:
Contribution Margin=Gross ProfitSales=(SalesVC)Saleswhere:VC=Variable Costs\begin &\text{ContributionMargin} = \dfrac{GrossProfit}=\dfrac{ (Sales-VC)}\&\textbf\&VC = \text\ \end
The contribution margin for the bread kitchen is ($35 - $15)/$35 = 0.5714, or 57.14%. Assuming the bread shop reduces its variable costs to $10, its contribution margin will increase to ($35 - $10)/$35 = 71.43%. Profits increase when the contribution margin increases. Assuming that the pastry shop reduces its variable cost by $5, it would earn $0.71 for each one dollar in sales.


  • At the point when production or sales increase, variable costs increase; when production or sales decline, variable costs decline.
  • Variable costs stand as opposed to fixed costs, which don't change in relation to production or sales volume.
  • A variable cost is an expense that changes in relation to production output or sales.


What Are Some Examples of Variable Costs?

Common instances of variable costs incorporate costs of goods sold (COGS), raw materials and contributions to production, bundling, wages, and commissions, and certain utilities (for instance, power or gas that increases with production capacity).

How Do Fixed Costs Differ From Variable Costs?

Variable costs are directly connected with the cost of production of goods or services, while fixed costs don't change with the level of production. Variable costs are commonly designated as COGS, though fixed costs are not normally remembered for COGS. Changes in sales and production levels can influence variable costs if factors, for example, sales commissions are remembered for per-unit production costs. In the mean time, fixed costs must in any case be paid even assuming production dials back fundamentally.

Is Marginal Cost the Same as Variable Cost?

No. Marginal cost alludes to the amount it costs to deliver one extra unit. The marginal cost will consider the total cost of production, including both fixed and variable costs. Since fixed costs are static, be that as it may, the weight of fixed costs will decline as production scales up.

How Might Variable Costs Impact Growth and Profitability?

In the event that companies increase production to fulfill need, their variable costs will increase too. Assuming that these costs increase at a rate that surpasses the profits generated from new units created, it may not seem OK to grow. A company in such a case should assess why it can't accomplish economies of scale. In economies of scale, variable costs as a percentage of overall cost per unit decline as the scale of production slopes up.