Variable expense definition

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variable expenses definition

Fixed expenses are always easier to account for because they don’t fluctuate as variable expenses do. This means that you can easily plan for them by setting aside money each month to cover the cost. Other ways of budgeting for unreliable variable expenses could include zero-based budgeting where you assign every dollar from your income toward expenses and savings. Or you could rely on the good old envelope budgeting method, creating different envelopes for income and expenses.

  • This assumes, of course, that you’re able to pay the balance off in full before the promotional rate ends.
  • The cost to package or ship a product will only occur if certain activity is performed.
  • The need to make decisions like these is why it pays to keep an eye on your fixed and variable expenses, because it might lead to fruitful negotiations and better profit margins.
  • Variable cost is one of the two major cost categories that you’ll find in nearly every business endeavor.
  • Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades.

Because of their unpredictable nature, some households struggle to track and budget for variable expenses. Unless you add up every grocery receipt or rely on a budgeting app, you may not know how much you What Is Business Accounting? spend on food every month, for example, making it easy to overspend without realizing it. For help with budgeting sign up for Bankrate’s myMoney to categorize spending and identify ways to cut expenses.

What is Variable Expense?

Variable costs are usually the first expenses that people try to cut when they need to start saving money. Unfortunately, variable costs are also some of the toughest expenses to cut back on, because doing so requires a daily commitment to frugal decision-making. One of the key elements to gaining financial stability is learning how to budget your variable expenses.

Because it is a bill you pay every month and remains roughly the same, a cell phone is a fixed expense. Still, you can work on bringing cell phone costs down to make sure this fixed expense fits in your budget. While most variable costs represent discretionary spending (such as restaurants, Starbucks, and golf), some variable costs represent necessities. Since fixed expenses typically represent the biggest chunk of your budget, the money you save in this category can be quite substantial. For instance, say you spent $400 on groceries in January, $500 in February, and $450 in March. Now that you have this number to work with, you can budget $450 every month for groceries—even though it’s a variable expense.

To create a proper budget, you’ll want to consider both your fixed and variable expenses. Here are some examples of each.

It can help streamline your operations and increase profitability. We will also study the difference between variable costs and fixed costs. You can set different bonus structures for employees depending on your business’s needs, which will affect your fixed and variable expenses. 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. Knowing how often you pay these expenses can help you manage your money. Variable costs are expenses that go up and down in line with business activity.

However, these costs are fixed in the sense that they don’t change based on your production volume. Whether you sell one phone case or a million, these costs remain the same. There’s no one best way to budget for variable expenses, so you’ll need to find a system that works for you.

Variable expenses

The table below shows how the variable costs change as the number of cakes baked vary. There is also a category of costs that falls between fixed and variable costs, known as semi-variable costs (also known as semi-fixed costs or mixed costs). These are costs composed of a mixture of both fixed and variable components. Costs are fixed for a set level of production or consumption and become variable after this production level is exceeded. 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.

variable expenses definition

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