Variable Cost Ratio

Consider a situation wherein the total variable costs of production are $1,000 per month, and the total revenues generated per month are $10,000. A variable expense can change from month to month or week to week. For example, raw materials a manufacturing company uses to produce a final product would be considered a variable expense. Because production levels will cause the amount of materials needed to vary, this is considered a variable expense. Other examples of variable expenses include packaging, advertising and sales commission.

A relatively high ratio indicates a company is more likely to make a profit on relatively low sales because it has a relatively high contribution margin to apply toward its fixed costs. Variable expense ratio — also called the variable cost ratio — is a means of understanding how variable costs impact a business’s net profits. The contribution margin shows if an organization is hitting the wanted equilibrium where revenue is growing faster than costs. This term contribution margin shows that this never reveals the amount of revenue remaining to be added to fixed costs, and the likely profit. In accounting and business, the breakeven point is the production level at which total revenues equal total expenses. Cost-volume-profit analysis looks at the impact that varying levels of sales and product costs have on operating profit. Other variable expenses might include commissions for sales representatives or anyone else on staff who is paid based on productivity.

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Tipalti can help you to automate your workflows and remain compliant with all relevant legislation wherever you do business, so that you continue to scale smoothly and effectively. Imagine, for example, that a sporting goods company is selling a hiking backpack for $100. (This is a top-of-the-line backpack, made from durable and waterproof material, with room for a sleeping roll and water bottles.) The backpack has a variable expense of $10.

Total sales are comprised of the variable costs and the contribution margin. Since you have the contribution margin ratio, you must identify the variable cost ratio and use that figure to determine the total sales. To do so, subtract the contribution margin ratio from 100 to determine the variable cost ratio, and then divide the variable cost amount by that percentage.

How Do You Find A Variable Expense Given A Fixed Expense & The Total Sales?

As production increases, the company will use more parts in the process. As production decreases, they will use fewer parts in the process. This difference is important as management plans out production runs and develops a market strategy. A variable expense ratio is an accounting formula used in computing the expenses incurred compared to the increase in earnings.

  • Calculating this ratio helps them account for both the increasing revenue as well as increasing production costs, so that the company can continue to grow at a steady pace.
  • For organizations that make several types of products, each product has its specific contribution margin ratio determined.
  • To identify this amount, divide the total fixed expenses by the contribution margin ratio.
  • Further, when the variable cost ratio is high, contribution margin ratio is low and breakeven point is high, and vice versa.

While total variable cost shows how much you’re paying to develop every unit of your product, you might also have to account for products that have different variable costs per unit. Companies with high fixed costs must earn a substantial amount of revenue to cover these costs and remain in business. For this type of company, it helps to have a low variable cost ratio. On the flip side, companies with low fixed costs do not have to earn a substantial amount of revenue to cover them and remain in business. This type of company can afford to operate with a higher variable cost ratio.

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The variable cost ratio tells us the percentage of each sale that is spent on incremental cost of production of the unit sold. Variable costs, such as raw materials purchases, rise with an increase in production. You can’t make 1,000 gold-plated things for the same cost as 100 gold-plated things. The variable cost ratio indicates when the variable costs of increasing production exceed the benefits. To determine the variable cost ratio for that month, we simply divide the variable cost ($1,000) by the sales revenue ($20,000). It means that the company will need to generate enough revenue to cover the fixed costs involved in the production process.

When the variable cost ratio is high, increase in sales results in slower increase in profit. Further, when the variable cost ratio is high, contribution margin ratio is low and breakeven point is high, and vice versa. The variable cost ratio reveals the total amount of variable expenses incurred by a business, stated as a proportion of its net sales. For example, if the price of a product is $100 and its variable expenses are $60, then the product’s variable cost ratio is 60%. This ratio is useful at the product level, in order to understand the amount of margin remaining after variable expenses have been deducted from a sale.

variable expenses ratio

Variable costs earn the name because they can increase and decrease as you make more or less of your product. The more units you sell, the more money you’ll make, but some of this money will need to pay for the production of more units. A variable cost is an expense that changes in proportion to production or sales volume. Knowing about this ratio allows you to compare your company’s performance from year to year and industry-wide averages for comparison purposes. These costs aren’t static — meaning, your rent may increase year over year. Instead, they remain fixed only in reference to product production. Your average variable cost is ($600 + $450) ÷ 25, or $42 per unit.


The variable cost calculation can be done on a per-unit basis, such as a $10 variable cost for one unit with a sales price of $100, giving a variable cost ratio of 0.1, or 10%. The variable cost ratio is a calculation of the costs of increasing production in comparison to the greater revenues that will result from the increase. An estimate of the variable cost ratio allows a company to aim for the optimal balance between increased revenues and increased costs of production.

This is known as the contribution margin, and is calculated as 1 minus the variable cost ratio. By measuringvariable costsas a percentage of net sales, we can see what percentage of sales can be used to cover fixed costs and other operating expenditures.

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After the foundational terms of fixed costs and variable costs, their connection to revenue and overall profitability are grasped. The variable costs will tend to grow with growth in production and fall with a decrease in production. Fixed expenses are overall costs that don’t fluctuate with fluctuations in production, for example, salaries or rent.

A firm calculates its AVC by dividing the total variable costs by the quantity of output produced. It’s particularly important for companies that are working to increase their operational efficiency by cutting costs. That’s because the variable expense ratio can help businesses decide where increasing production makes sense and where it doesn’t. To determine the contribution margin, simply use the calculation 1 – variable cost ratio. You can then multiply the result by 100 to express the result as a percentage.

Every business needs to know its variable expense ratio to know the actions to take to maximize profits. Where companies are producing only one type of product, the variable cost ratio is connected to the overall amount of sales. Additionally, it can be connected to the sales per product and contribution margin. For organizations that make several types of products, each product has its specific contribution margin ratio determined.

variable expenses ratio

A variable cost of like $10 for each product with a $1000 selling price will give a variable expense of 0.01, or 1%. Thus, the variable cost can also be calculated using figures of a certain period, like monthly.

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To return to the example of the pencil factory — the cost of wood and graphite will go up as the factory increases production because making more pencils requires more wood and graphite. This article will explore how the variable expense ratio is calculated and where it’s used.

What are examples of fixed cost and variable cost on a farm?

There are several examples of fixed costs, such as Depreciation, Interest, Rent and Repairs, Taxes and Insurance. Many people refer to these as the DIRTI-5. Depreciation (D) may result from use or passage of time. However, only time depreciation (obsolescence) is a fixed cost, use depreciation is a variable cost.

If the company doubles its production and earns $2,000 in pencil sales, its variable costs will increase to $1,200. If, on the other hand, the company slashes its production by half, its variable costs will drop to $300. A fixed expense does not change based on a business’s other activities. Costs like rent and administrative salaries are fixed costs, which remain the same no matter how much a business is producing.

Variable Expense Ratio

One of the key metrics in management’s analysis is the VCR, so they can determine how much revenue is required to cover all variable and fixed costs. The main dependent costs for PPP are direct labor and paper materials.

This means that the company has to make sales that cover up the fixed costs before earning a profit. If variable expenses are higher compared to net sales, the company may have lesser fixed costs. Therefore, the company will remain profitable with a lower amount of sales.

The contribution margin is a quantitative expression of the difference between the company’s total sales revenue and the total variable costs of production of goods that were sold. The variable cost ratio is a cost accounting tool used to express a company’s variable production costs as a percentage of its net sales. The ratio is calculated by dividing the variable costs by the net revenues of the company.

What Is The ‘variable Cost Ratio’

Accountants must ensure that costs are minimized, and the profits are maximized. The variable cost ratio, also called the variable expense ratio, seeks to help companies achieve this goal. This is an invaluable planning tool since it allows management to predict exactly what its total expenditures will be. Of course, determining the variable expense ratio also allows businesses to decide whether increasing production is a good strategy or not. There are several ways in which the variable cost ratio can be calculated. Under the first method, the mathematical calculation is performed on a per-unit basis.

variable expenses ratio

These costs tend to be affected by the company’s management actions. The average variable cost is a firm’s total variable costs divided by the quantity of output produced. If the average variable cost of one unit is found using your total variable cost, don’t you already know how much one unit of your product costs to develop? Can’t you work backward, and simply divide your total variable cost by the number of units you have? Variable costs are the sum of all labor and materials required to produce a unit of your product. Your total variable cost is equal to the variable cost per unit, multiplied by the number of units produced.

However, for variable expenses, you will have to buy more packaging materials to pack additional products. The variable cost ratio allows businesses to pinpoint the relationship between variable costs and net sales. Calculating this ratio helps them account for both the increasing revenue as well as increasing production costs, so that the company can continue to grow at a steady pace. Variable expense ratio is used in accounting to depict an organization’s costs incurred during production as a percentage of the net sales.

Direct labor is also considered a variable expense, as the costs vary with production levels and output. A high variable cost ratio means that a small portion of the sales revenue is available for fixed costs and profit.