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Fixed vs Variable Expenses: What’s the Difference?

It can also help you prepare for other monthly expenditures, such as debt repayment or saving for future expenses. 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. Your health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, and homeowners or renters insurance are also examples of fixed costs. You would have to spend several hours researching alternate plans to change these monthly payment amounts. If you’re like most people, your budget is comprised of both fixed and variable expenses. Understanding the difference between fixed and variable expenses can help you with budgeting, setting financial goals, and a lot more.

  • The unpredictability of these costs can cause potential challenges in budgeting and limit the consistency of your financial output.
  • One of the first steps in budgeting is collecting all your expenses and converting them into a monthly payment.
  • For us, this is when we maximize the placement of our hard-earned money across multiple bank accounts.
  • Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.

The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site. On the other hand, travel is a variable expense — but in many cases, travel is discretionary. There is another type of expense category that’s referred to as “discretionary expenses.” These are “optional” purchases, such as entertainment and restaurants. YNAB’s easy-to-use budgeting app makes it simple to turn those 100-lb sharks into less scary, smaller sharks by giving you clear goals to save for each month. Pull out that crystal ball and take stock of big costs in the next year. At YNAB we call those predictable yet somehow unexpected budget burglars (like holiday expenses, annual subscriptions, and car repairs) True Expenses and we have a plan for managing them.

How to Budget for Fixed and Variable Expenses

Budget your fixed expenses first, because they make up the majority of your budget and are usually set for longer periods of time. Your variable expenses fluctuate monthly and are easy to adjust as you go, so it’s easier to plan these around your fixed expenses. 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.

  • Variable and fixed costs play into the degree of operating leverage a company has.
  • Living your budget may mean rethinking wants versus needs to avoid overspending.
  • Some variable expenses are vital, like groceries, and others, like movie tickets, are optional.
  • On the other hand, fixed costs are costs that remain constant regardless of production levels (such as office rent).

Water, gas and electric bills technically fit under the umbrella of basic living expenses. But these costs can fluctuate from month to month, depending on your usage and the rates your provider charges. 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. Another example of a variable expense is a retailer’s cost of goods sold. For instance, if a company purchases a product for $30 and is able to sell it for $50, the company’s cost of goods sold will be a constant rate of 60% ($30 / $50). Therefore, when the company has sales of $10,000 the cost of goods will be $6,000.

Fixed expenses vs. variable expenses

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. Aside from being roughly the same amount each month, fixed expenses may also be paid on or around the same date each month. Again, the advantage here is that planning out your budget may be easier to do with recurring bill payments. If you budget by paycheck or schedule automatic bill payments, having bills due at roughly the same time can help with avoiding late payments and the fees that go along with them.

What is an Example of a Variable Expense?

In this article, we’ll focus on one such expense – variable expenses – and explore what they are and how they can affect your budget. We’ll delve into the different types of variable expenses, how to track them, and some tips on how to manage them effectively. If you’ve paid this variable for any length of time, you can look back at previous years’ bills or financial statements, like bank account statements or credit card statements.

Variable Costs vs. Fixed Costs: An Overview

This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. I’ve written for Life + Money by Citi, Bankrate and The Balance, among others. Unless you’re moonlighting as the Hulk, you probably chose the 20-pounder and ate your Wheaties for breakfast. Stay with me and we’ll explain why this choice is the secret to mastering your budget. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets.

The costs increase as the volume of activities increases and decrease as the volume of activities decreases. When setting prices, one should ensure that at least the variable expenses are included in the price. That way, a business will not lose money when each unit of a product is sold. Separate your variable expenses from your fixed expenses to estimate how much you spend on the former. The length of a budget will also affect what are considered variable expenses. For example, a mortgage might have an adjustable rate of interest, and therefore might go up or down depending on the market interest rate.

It can help businesses understand how efficient they are at managing their variable costs, make pricing decisions, and evaluate the impact of changes in sales volume on their bottom line. Most of your fixed expenses are inescapable — you can’t exactly cut your house or car payments. Those fixed monthly subscription services — Netflix, Spotify, Hulu and more — can really add up, so you might consider cutting some of them. Additionally, there may be opportunities to lower them by comparing other options. Perhaps a company will allow you to bundle them and save a chunk of cash versus your current providers. Variable costs are directly related to the cost of production of goods or services, while fixed costs do not vary with the level of production.

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