# Total Cost in Economics: Definition & Formula

## Total Cost in Economics: Definition & Formula

The Average Cost method will come somewhere between the two figures. FIFO involves selling the oldest items or those that have been in the warehouse the longest first, hence the term, first-in, first-out. The average cost method, which is sometimes called the weighted average cost, is calculated by dividing the total cost of goods in your inventory by the total number of items available for sale.

## Weighted Average vs. FIFO vs. LIFO: What’s the Difference?

Depending on how you value your inventory or which method you use, you can arrive at different figures for the same events over a period of time. I know that may sound confusing, but take the example of FIFO accounting. Let’s say that your costs are rising as they so often do and each time you place an order it costs more for the same amount purchased as the previous order. Since FIFO accounting requires you to sell the first item purchased first your per unit cost will be lower than the last time you made a purchase. Conversely, if you use the LIFO method your profit margin will appear to be smaller even though the only thing that we changed is the method of accounting for the inventory.

The company also uses the first in, first out (FIFO) method, which ensures that most old-model units are sold before new Apple product models are released to the market. Apple Store managers also handle the inventory management of their respective stores. The FIFO (first-in, first-out) method of inventory costing assumes that the costs of the first goods purchased are those charged to cost of goods sold when the company actually sells goods. This method assumes the first goods purchased are the first goods sold. In some companies, the first units in (bought) must be the first units out (sold) to avoid large losses from spoilage.

The average cost method uses a simple average of all similar items in inventory, regardless of purchase date, followed by a count of final inventory items at the end of an accounting period. Multiplying the average cost per item by the final inventory count gives the company a figure for the cost of goods available for sale at that point.

The same average cost is also applied to the number of items sold in the previous accounting period to determine the cost of goods sold. There are two popular accounting solutions for this problem.

The COGS is an important figure for businesses, investors, and analysts as it is subtracted from sales revenue to determine gross margin on the income statement. To calculate the total cost of goods sold to consumers during a period, different companies use one of three inventory cost methods—first in first out (FIFO), last in first out (LIFO), or average cost method. FIFO and average cost are two methods of valuing inventory. Choosing the right method for your small business could potentially allow you to book thousands of dollars in additional or earlier profits.

Those who favor LIFO argue that its use leads to a better matching of costs and revenues than the other methods. When a company uses LIFO, the income statement reports both sales revenue and cost of goods sold in current dollars. The resulting gross margin is a better indicator of management ‘s ability to generate income than gross margin computed using FIFO, which may include substantial inventory (paper) profits.

You’ve probably heard of them, as their abbreviations sound vaguely like names of dogs. First-in, first-out (FIFO) and last-in, first-out (LIFO) are the methods most public companies use to allocate costs between inventory and cost of goods sold. During periods of inflation, LIFO shows the largest cost of goods sold of any of the costing methods because the newest costs charged to cost of goods sold are also the highest costs. The larger the cost of goods sold, the smaller the net income.

For example, businesses that adopt the average cost method need to continue to use this method for future accounting periods. This principle is in place for the ease of financial statement users so that figures on the financials can be compared year over year. A company that changes its inventory costing method must highlight the change in its footnotes to the financial statements. The average cost method requires minimal labor to apply and is, therefore, the least expensive of all the methods.

### How do you calculate the average cost?

The average cost method assigns a cost to inventory items based on the total cost of goods purchased or produced in a period divided by the total number of items purchased or produced. The average cost method is also known as the weighted-average method.

When it comes time to calculate cost of goods sold, should the company average its costs across all inventory? Should it count the ones it bought earlier and for cheaper?

The average cost method is also known as the weighted-average method. Apple Inc.’s operations management (OM) involves the application of the 10 decisions of OM to ensure that all aspects of the business are running smoothly. With considerable leadership in the computer technology and digital content distribution industries, Apple Inc. is an example of success in addressing the 10 decision areas of operations management. This success highlights the importance of Apple’s strategic approaches to achieve high productivity goals and objectives in operations management areas. Imagine a firm replenishing its inventory stock with new items that cost more than the old inventory.

In accounting, to find the average cost, divide the sum of variable costs and fixed costsby the quantity of units produced. In this sense, compute it as cost of goods available for sale divided by the number of units available for sale. This will give you the average per-unit value of the inventory of goods available for sale. One of the core aspects of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is consistency. The consistency principle requires a company to adopt an accounting method and follow it consistently from one accounting period to another.

• Businesses that sell products to customers have to deal with inventory, which is either bought from a separate manufacturer or produced by the company itself.
• Items previously in inventory that are sold off are recorded on a company’s income statement as cost of goods sold (COGS).

The main distinction between the FIFO – or first-in, first-out – and average cost method is the way each accounting option calculates inventory and cost of goods sold. Using the right method can help ensure that your small business meets customer needs by having products available when customers want them while maximizing profits. In this decision area of operations management, Apple Inc. uses different methods of inventory management, such as the serialized method for effective tracking and control of products.

If prices keep going up – as they usually do – you can continue using FIFO to continue maximizing your profits. The average cost method assigns a cost to inventory items based on the total cost of goods purchased or produced in a period divided by the total number of items purchased or produced.

” This reserve is essentially the amount by which an entity’s taxable income has been deferred by using the LIFO method. Different accounting methods produce different results, because their flow of costs are based upon different assumptions. The FIFO method bases its cost flow on the chronological order purchases are made, while the LIFO method bases it cost flow in a reverse chronological order. The average cost method produces a cost flow based on a weighted average of unit costs. When a company uses the Weighted-Average Method and prices are rising, its cost of goods sold is less than that obtained under LIFO, but more than that obtained under FIFO.

## Accounting

Or maybe it should use the latest inventory for its calculations. This decision is critical and will affect a company’s gross margin, net income, and taxes, as well as future inventory valuations. The average cost is then compared with the price at which the fund shares were sold to determine the gains or losses for tax reporting. The average cost basis is one of many methods that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows investors to use to arrive at the cost of their mutual fund holdings.

## What Is the Average Cost Method?

Inventory is not as understated as under LIFO, but it is not as up-to-date as under FIFO. A company can manipulate income under the weighted-average costing method by buying or failing to buy goods near year-end. However, the averaging process reduces the effects of buying or not buying. LIFO stands for last-in, first-out, meaning that the most recently produced items are recorded as sold first. The difference between the cost of an inventory calculated under the FIFO and LIFO methods is called the “LIFO reserve.

This doesn’t seem like much of an accounting trick at first. Using either method, your total cost for 10 bags of cement was \$150, and your total profit is \$350. However, if you use the FIFO method, you book \$200 profit for the first five birdbaths, whereas with the average cost method, you book only \$175 in profit. This may not sound like much, but if you multiply this \$25 by 10,000 items, you will book an extra \$25,000 in profit earlier in the process. That’s a lot of extra money to buy more supplies regardless of the cost of supplies.

## Benefits of the Average Cost Method

The method a company uses to determine it cost of inventory (inventory valuation) directly impacts the financial statements. The three main methods for inventory costing are First-in, First-Out (FIFO), Last-in, Last-Out (LIFO) and Average cost. When a company uses the weighted-average method and prices are rising, its cost of goods sold is less than that obtained under LIFO, but more than that obtained under FIFO.

Companies most often use the Weighted-Average Method to determine a cost for units that are basically the same, such as identical games in a toy store or identical electrical tools in a hardware store. Since the units are alike, firms can assign the same unit cost to them.

Inventory is also not as badly understated as under LIFO, but it is not as up-to-date as under FIFO. Weighted-average costing takes a middle-of-the-road approach.

Such items as fresh dairy products, fruits, and vegetables should be sold on a FIFO basis. In these cases, an assumed first-in, first-out flow corresponds with the actual physical flow of goods. The Weighted-Average Method of inventory costing is a means of costing ending inventory using a weighted-average unit cost.

Businesses that sell products to customers have to deal with inventory, which is either bought from a separate manufacturer or produced by the company itself. Items previously in inventory that are sold off are recorded on a company’s income statement as cost of goods sold (COGS).