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variable expenses definition and meaning – Check Cash Depot

1To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) Will be between 7.9% – 25.9% per year and will be based on your credit history. Variable expenses can be discretionary — but they can also be necessary.

It can also help with deciding how much of your income to commit to debt repayment, saving and other financial goals. And, if you’re wondering what is a variable expense, it’s an expense that may be higher or lower from one month to the next. Costs can vary due to price changes — say, if your city’s bus fare increases — or because of how much of something you buy and how often you do so. 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. Because it is a bill you pay every month and remains roughly the same, a cell phone is a fixed expense.

  • Fixed costs remain the same regardless of whether goods or services are produced or not.
  • Variable expenses aren’t always predictable, but they often allow more flexibility in your budget.
  • Allocate funds from your discretionary spending towards these goals, be it emergency savings, debt repayment, or saving for a particular milestone or purchase.
  • This could include items such as rent or mortgage payment, car payment, gym membership, or subscription services.
  • These variable expenses can be a stumbling block for some folks when building a budget, but they don’t have to be.

Unlike fixed expenses, you must estimate your variable monthly costs and adjust on the fly if they rise significantly. Your personal finances are not the only place you may encounter variable expenses. In a small business, a variable cost is an expense that changes according to production or, in some businesses, with changing weather conditions. This is where financial software that helps you manage your budget can help you out.

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. If you spend less than the average one month, leave the money you didn’t spend alone so it’s there if you overspend the next month. Saving can also be considered a fixed expense if you’re budgeting for it regularly. If you do that consistently and include it as a line item in your budget, you may technically consider it to be a fixed expense if you don’t deviate from your savings habit. Knowing how to include both in a budget is important to avoid overspending.

Raw Materials

You are the owner of a family-owned restaurant, “Cafe Delight.” You want to understand your business’s cost structure and assess your menu items’ profitability. You decide to calculate and analyze the variable expense ratio for your restaurant. Variable costs change based on how many goods are produced or services provided. Budgeting fixed expenses is a little easier because you know what to expect, and they are generally more necessary than variable expenses. As you go through your budget and evaluate your fixed versus your variable expenses, you’ll want to look at each category to see where you have room for savings.

The Contribution Margin provides us with information about the fixed costs, while the Variable Expense Ratio includes information about the variable costs. Both metrics are crucial for cost analysis and decision-making, with a lower variable expense ratio and a higher contribution margin indicating a more favorable financial position. Variable expenses are costs that fluctuate directly to changes in production or sales.

Knowing how costs behave when sales or other activities change will allow you to better understand how a company’s gross profit and net income will change. It also allows you to quickly calculate a product’s contribution margin and to estimate the company’s break-even point. An expense is variable when its total amount changes in proportion to the change in sales, production, or some other activity. In other words, a variable expense increases when an activity increases, and it decreases when the activity decreases. In fact, many of your budget items might be variable expenses rather than fixed, which can make budgeting for them a little more complicated.

Calculating variable costs can be done by multiplying the quantity of output by the variable cost per unit of output. However, if the company doesn’t produce any units, it won’t have any variable costs for producing the mugs. Similarly, if the company produces 1,000 units, the cost will rise to $2,000. 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).

  • One way to differentiate between different types of expenses is by examining their regularity and predictability.
  • For example, while your daycare bill is the same each month, you may also need to hire a babysitter for a few nights.
  • As you look at your upcoming bills, you should already know exactly what you’ll pay for fixed expenses.
  • Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.

They show up monthly, such as a gym membership, or annually, like in the case of your homeowners insurance renewal. Insurance is a fixed expense that protects your business from risks such as property damage, liability, and theft. The amount you pay will depend on the type of coverage you need and the size of your business. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site. Once you’ve established a firm history with this variable expense, you can adjust it to fit what you’re actually paying.

Variable Costs

It’s important to understand how much of your expenses are fixed and how much are variable so you can budget your money properly. 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. If you can cut back on some variable costs in addition to your fixed monthly bills, you’ll free up more money to save for retirement, build an emergency fund, pay off debt, or invest.

These bills cannot easily be changed and are usually paid on a regular basis, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly or from year to year. For this reason, variable costs are a required item for companies trying to determine their break-even point. In addition, variable costs are necessary to determine sale targets for a specific profit target. ​Let’s consider a hypothetical example in the restaurant industry to demonstrate how to calculate and analyze the variable expense ratio. The Variable Expense Ratio enables analysis of the profitability and cost efficiency of the business.

Set expense limits and find ways to save

Other expenses may change once every year or two (like rent), but these would still be considered fixed expenses since they’re the same every month. The variable expenses definition includes any expense category free personal finance software to simplify your finances that may change frequently. 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.

These variable expenses can be a stumbling block for some folks when building a budget, but they don’t have to be. One of the easiest ways to understand how variable expenses work is to consider the weather in your area. During the summer, does it get so hot that you need to crank the air conditioning?

Tips for saving money on fixed and variable expenses

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. Understanding variable expenses is crucial for managing personal finances effectively. Variable expenses are the flexible costs that tend to fluctuate based on personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Remember, managing variable expenses is an ongoing process that requires discipline and continuous effort, but the rewards are well worth it in the long run. A commission, such as a percentage paid out for every unit sold on top of a salary, is a variable cost because it depends on output, according to Inc..

The costs of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature rise as the weather gets more extreme. During mild months, you spend far less money on heating or cooling systems. 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. Other less common fixed expenses may include child support payments, alimony, back tax payments you’re making through an installment plan or payments made to satisfy a judgment from a lawsuit. These kinds of payments can be the same each month for the entire period of time in which you’re obligated to pay them.

This assumes, of course, that you’re able to pay the balance off in full before the promotional rate ends. You could also consider refinancing student loans or consolidating debts with a low-interest rate personal loan to save money. Budgeting for variable expenses can be more challenging, as you may not be able to pinpoint exactly how much they’ll add up to from one month to another. If you’re not tracking variable expenses regularly, it could be very easy to under- or overestimate how much of your budget you should allocate to them. This is something you can easily do with a budgeting app, however, which can minimize the odds of variable expenses sideswiping your spending plan.

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