variable expenses definition

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. In accounting, variable costs are looked at through a short-term lens because you can adjust them quickly by shifting production levels. A variable cost is any corporate expense that changes along with changes in production volume.

However, the cost cut should not affect product or service quality as this would have an adverse effect on sales. By reducing its variable costs, a business increases its gross profit margin or contribution margin. Variable costs are directly related to the cost of production of goods or services, while fixed costs do not vary with the level of production. Variable costs are commonly designated as COGS, whereas fixed costs are not usually included in COGS.

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

The variable cost definition in business accounting means any expense that changes dependent on the amount of products being produced. Variable costs can increase in one month and then be lower the next month depending on the business’s overall production. A general business rule for variable costs is if a production is high, variable costs are high and vice versa.

variable expenses definition

However, anything above this has limitless potential for yielding benefit for the company. Therefore, leverage rewards the company not choosing variable costs as long as the company can produce enough output. Raw materials A Guide to Nonprofit Accounting for Non-Accountants are the direct goods purchased that are eventually turned into a final product. If the athletic brand doesn’t make the shoes, it won’t incur the cost of leather, synthetic mesh, canvas, or other raw materials.

How we make money

A business consultant has many variable costs because she does many different types of contracts that incur their own specific expenses. She also has to travel to visit the client and the cab fare is a variable expense. She pays an assistant hourly to help her and this billable labor is also a variable cost. Variable costs change based on how many goods are produced or services provided.

If you could use some more breathing room in your budget, finding ways to save each month can help. How you approach saving money can vary, based on whether you’re trying to cut your fixed or variable expenses. In general, companies with a high proportion of variable costs relative to fixed costs are considered to be less volatile, as their profits are more dependent on the success of their sales. Average variable costs is often U-shaped when plotted graphically.