# What is fixed cost: The Difference Between Fixed Cost and Variable Cost Explained

## What is fixed cost: The Difference Between Fixed Cost and Variable Cost Explained

If a company makes zero sales for a period of time, then total variable costs will also be zero. But if sales are through the roof, variable costs will rise drastically. What your company should aim for are low variable costs that enable larger margins so your business can be more profitable. The break-even point formula consists of dividing a company’s fixed costs by its contribution margin, i.e. sales price per unit minus variable cost per unit. An understanding of the fixed and variable expenses can be used to identify economies of scale. This cost advantage is established in the fact that as output increases, fixed costs are spread over a larger number of output items.

If you add up everything you spent over the course of the month, it equals \$4,000 in total costs. Then factor in all the tacos you sold throughout the month — 1,000 tacos. Each taco costs \$3 to make when you consider what you spend on taco meat, shells, and vegetables.

• This is the clear distinction between these two different types of costs.
• As a company with high operating leverage generates more revenue, more incremental revenue trickles down to its operating income (EBIT) and net income.
• You’ll need to pay for the rent of your garage, utility bills to keep the lights on, and employee salaries.

These are the base costs involved in operating a business comprehensively. Once established, fixed costs do not change over the life of an agreement or cost schedule. In economics, there is a fixed cost for a factory in the short run, and the fixed cost is immutable.

These costs are normally independent of a company’s specific business activities and include things like rent, property tax, insurance, and depreciation. Fixed costs are allocated in the indirect expense section of the income statement, which leads to operating profit. Depreciation is a common fixed expense that is recorded as an indirect expense. Companies create a depreciation expense schedule for asset investments with values falling over time.

## Fixed Cost: What It Is and How It’s Used in Business

The equation provides not only valuable information about pricing but can also be modified to answer other important questions such as the feasibility of a planned expansion. It can also give entrepreneurs, who are considering buying a small business, information about projected profits. The equation can help them calculate the number of units and the dollar volume that would be needed to make a profit and decide whether these numbers seem credible. Profits don’t skyrocket after all the fixed costs are covered, as they do with high-fixed-cost ventures. In addition to financial statement reporting, most companies closely follow their cost structures through independent cost structure statements and dashboards. Companies can produce more profit per additional unit produced with higher operating leverage.

Now that you know the difference between fixed costs and variable costs, let’s look at how you can calculate your total fixed costs. Fixed costs are predetermined expenses that remain the same throughout a specific period. These overhead costs do not vary with output or how the business is performing. To determine your fixed costs, consider the expenses you would incur if you temporarily closed your business. You would still continue to pay for rent, insurance and other overhead expenses.

## Are All Fixed Costs Considered Sunk Costs?

If you divide that by roughly 30 days in a month, you’ll need to sell 20 cups of coffee per day in order to break-even. Your variable unit costs are \$1 which includes paper coffee cups, coffee beans, and milk for spinning up lattes. If you’re starting a new business, then the break-even point will help you determine the viability of the endeavor. If you already have your business up and running, the break-even point will help you find areas to improve your business and profitability. Fixed costs have to be paid even if a business doesn’t do any trade for the day. They tend to include regular recurring costs like leases, wages and insurance.

• The greater the percentage of total costs that are fixed in nature, the more revenue must be brought in before the company can reach its break-even point and start generating profits.
• Your company’s total fixed costs will be independent of your production level or sales volume.
• If the company does not produce any mugs for the month, it still needs to pay \$10,000 to rent the machine.
• Fixed cost vs variable cost is the difference in categorizing business costs as either static or fluctuating when there is a change in the activity and sales volume.
• No matter how many tacos you sell every month, you’ll still be required to pay \$1,000.
• All types of companies have fixed-cost agreements that they monitor regularly.

All sunk costs are fixed costs in financial accounting, but not all fixed costs are considered to be sunk. The defining characteristic of sunk costs is that they cannot be recovered. Fixed costs are not linked to production output, so these costs neither increase nor decrease at different production volumes. For example, the rent of a building is a fixed cost that a small business owner negotiates with the landlord based the square footage needed for its operations.

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Unlike fixed costs, variable costs are directly related to the cost of production of goods or services. Variable costs are commonly designated as the cost of goods sold (COGS), whereas fixed costs are not usually included in COGS. Fluctuations in sales and production levels can affect variable costs if factors such as sales commissions are included in per-unit production costs. Meanwhile, fixed costs must still be paid even if production slows down significantly. These types of expenses are composed of both fixed and variable components. They are fixed up to a certain production level, after which they become variable.

But in the long run, there are only variable costs, because they control all factors of production. Let’s say you started a small coffee shop that specializes in gourmet roasted coffee beans. Your fixed costs are around \$1,800 per month, which includes your building lease, utility bills, and coffee roaster loan payment. Think about if you run an auto shop that primarily does oil changes. You’ll need to pay for the rent of your garage, utility bills to keep the lights on, and employee salaries. The more oil changes you’re able to do, the less your average fixed costs will be.

## What is Fixed Cost vs Variable Cost?

So how many cups will you need to sell per month to be profitable? You can use a break-even analysis to figure out at what point you’ll become profitable. Operating leverage is a double-edged sword, where the potential for greater profitability comes with the risk of a greater chance of insufficient revenue (and being unprofitable). Sign up for Shopify’s free trial to access all of the tools and services you need to start, run, and grow your business.

## Variable Costs Example

In recent years, fixed costs gradually exceed variable costs for many companies. Firstly, automatic production increases the cost of investment equipment, including the depreciation and maintenance of old equipment. It is difficult to adjust human resources according to the actual work needs in short term. Fixed costs remain the same regardless of whether goods or services are produced or not. As such, a company’s fixed costs don’t vary with the volume of production and are indirect, meaning they generally don’t apply to the production process—unlike variable costs.

Fixed costs can include recurring expenditures like your monthly rent, utility bills, and employee salaries. Here are a few examples of fixed costs to give you a better idea. There are many techniques for making your business more profitable. For example, there are some handy formulas every business owner should know to figure out monthly revenue and expenses.

## How to Calculate Fixed Cost: Fixed vs. Variable Costs

This means that variable costs increase as production rises and decrease as production falls. Some of the most common types of variable costs include labor, utility expenses, commissions, and raw materials. Fixed costs are expenses that a company pays that do not change with production levels. Unlike fixed costs, variable costs (e.g., shipping) change based on the production levels of a company.