What are Variable Costs? VC Formula + Calculator

This will allow them to carry out different types of financial analysis, like break-even analysis or profitability analysis. Any cost that changes based on production or sales volume is considered a variable cost, which includes things like the cost of producing a product, advertising costs, and shipping costs. When you’re producing and selling 10,000 of a product rather than 1,000 units, you can expect to pay about 10 times as much in variable costs.

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. For others that are tied to an hourly job, putting in direct labor hours results in a higher paycheck. Fixed costs are costs that don’t change in response to the number of products you’re producing. And, because each unit requires a certain amount of resources, a higher number of units will raise the variable costs needed to produce them. These costs are often time-related, such as the monthly salaries or the rent.

## Why Does Variable Cost Matter?

Third, companies use variable cost information to support efficiency and profit margins. From the contribution margin formula above, you can see, the lower the variable cost per unit, the higher the contribution margin. For example, to get lower raw material prices, companies can buy in bulk for a discount. Or, the company can acquire a supplier and integrate it into its existing business.

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. Meanwhile, the average variable cost is a different calculation that shows you the average cost to produce a single unit of a product by utilizing the total variable cost. The average variable cost is used for calculating the variable costs for each product that has varying costs per unit. To decide the average variable cost, you must know the variable cost of each unit being analyzed and then calculate the mean of them. The variable costs can vary because they can increase and decrease as you make more or less of your product.

You can use a break-even analysis to figure out at what point you’ll become profitable. Boost your brand’s visibility to drive sales higher than they’ve ever been before with gift cards uniquely designed for your business. Our cash discount program passes the cost of acceptance, in most cases 3.99%, back to customers who choose to pay with a credit card. Your newest client, Beauty Ice Cream ("Beauty"), is a local ice cream shop that sells homemade, artisanal ice cream in a small location just off the college campus in Cambridge. Beauty is looking for help because it wants to better understand its cost structure. You have the following voice notes from your interview with Milky Dairy, the owner of the shop.

Because variable costs scale alongside, 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. Let’s assume that it costs a bakery \$15 to make a cake—\$5 for raw materials such as sugar, milk, and flour, and \$10 for the direct labor involved in making Real Estate Bookkeeping: Virtual Bookkeepers for Real Estate one cake. The table below shows how the variable costs change as the number of cakes baked vary. The concept of relevant range primarily relates to fixed costs, though variable costs may experience a relevant range of their own. This may hold true for tangible products going into a good as well as labor costs (i.e. it may cost overtime rates if a certain amount of hours are worked).

## Understanding Variable Costs

Expenses change due to the activities of your business, which are defined as variable costs. Simply put, variable costs are stick with the number of units being made, also known as unit-level costs. Whatever types of products that your business produces, it’s necessary for you, as an owner, to understand your variable costs and how they relate to the total cost of doing business. Variable costs are expenses that change as production increases or decreases. If a company produces more products or services, then variable costs will rise. Now that you know that fixed costs are what you’re required to pay regardless of sales or production, what are the costs that fluctuate as your business grows?

• The break-even point is the number of units you need to sell to make your business profitable.
• All you have to do is put some basic information into a calculator, including your total costs and fixed costs.
• Variable costs are expenses that vary in proportion to the volume of goods or services that a business produces.
• For example, if you produce spark plugs, the copper used in production is a variable cost.
• Since variable costs are tied to output, lower production volume means fewer costs are incurred, which eases the cost pressure on a company — but fixed costs must still be paid regardless.
• From the contribution margin formula above, you can see, the lower the variable cost per unit, the higher the contribution margin.
• Variable costs are the sum of all labor and materials required to produce a unit of your product.

If product demand (and the coinciding production volume) exceed expectations — in response, the company’s variable costs would adjust in tandem. Variable costs are directly tied to a company’s production output, so the costs incurred fluctuate based on sales performance (and volume). As the production output of cakes increases, the bakery’s variable costs also increase. When the bakery does not bake any cake, its variable costs drop to zero. Variable and fixed costs play into the degree of operating leverage a company has. In short, fixed costs are more risky, generate a greater degree of leverage, and leaves the company with greater upside potential.