Variable Cost: Definition, Formula and Calculation

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Variable Cost: Definition, Formula and Calculation

variable cost equation

Difficulties arise when struggling organizations go beyond cutting discretionary fixed costs and begin looking at cutting committed fixed costs. Organizations often view fixed costs as either committed or discretionary. Remember that the reason that businesses take the time and effort to classify costs as either fixed or variable is to be able to control costs.

Costs incurred by businesses consist of fixed and variable costs. As mentioned above, variable expenses do not remain constant when production levels change. On the other hand, fixed costs are costs that remain constant regardless of production levels (such as office rent). Understanding which costs are variable and which costs are fixed are important to business decision-making. Variable costs are the sum of all labor and materials required to produce a unit of your product.

Total Variable Cost

The following list contains common examples of variable expenses incurred by companies. In contrast, costs of variable nature are generally more difficult to predict, and there is usually more variance between the forecast and actual results. You might pay to package and ship your product by the unit, and therefore more or fewer shipped units will cause these costs to vary. The more products your company sells, the more you might pay in commission to your salespeople as they win customers.

Graphically illustrate the isoquant and the two isocost lines for the current combination of labor and capital and for the optimal combination of labor and capital. A firm has a fixed production cost of $5000 and a constant marginal cost of production of $500 per unit produced. The variable cost per 1000 output has declined to $45 (in thousands). Also, the interest rate has come into play for determining the variable cost. For each 1% increase in interest rate (i), income increases by $3 (in thousands).

Examples of Fixed Costs

You can figure out your new total variable cost by multiplying the average variable cost by the number of units you plan to produce. You can even input different numbers to see your total variable cost with 2,000 units, 5,000 units, 10,000 units, and so on. Variable costs are expenses that fluctuate proportionally with the quantity of output.

If a company produces just a few units each month, workers (direct labor) do not gain the experience needed to work efficiently and may waste time and materials. Variable costs change as the quantity of goods or services produced or provided changes. Fixed costs are exactly as the name implies – they remain the same regardless of the quantity / volume of goods or services produced within the period. Mixed costs are those a combination of variable and fixed components (and when conducting CVP analysis, we will break mixed costs into fixed and variable components). You’ll have a range of fixed costs and variable costs that you’re required to pay each month. In this guide, we’ll talk about fixed costs and how you can calculate them.


Fixed costs are those that can’t be changed regardless of your business’s performance. Your company’s total fixed costs will be independent of your production level or sales volume. While online calculators can be a big help when you’re just starting a business, it’s important to understand how to calculate variable costs and how the formula works. When you understand the inner workings of this formula, you can use it to figure out the variable cost per unit, as well as the percentage of your total costs that are variable costs. 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.

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