Question: come predict what will happen to profit in the future at Bikes Unlimited, we must recognize how expenses behave with transforms in the variety of units marketed (sales volume). Some expenses will not change at all with a adjust in sales volume (e.g., monthly rent because that the production facility). Some expenses will change with a readjust in sales volume (e.g., products for the hill bikes). What are the 3 cost habits patterns that aid organizations recognize which expenses will change and i beg your pardon will continue to be the very same with alters in sales volume?

Answer: The three an easy cost behavior patterns are known as variable, fixed, and mixed. Every of these cost patterns is defined next.

You are watching: Cost behavior refers to the manner in which a cost changes as the related activity changes.

Variable Costs

Question: We know that some prices vary with transforms in activity. What perform we speak to this kind of cost behavior?

Answer: This cost habits pattern is referred to as a change cost. A variable expense describes a price that varies in total with changes in volume that activity. The activity in this example is the number of bikes produced and sold. However, the task can take many different forms depending on the organization. The two most typical variable expenses are straight materials and also direct labor. Other examples encompass indirect materials and energy costs.

Assume the expense of straight materials (wheels, seats, frames, and so forth) because that each bike in ~ Bikes limitless is $40. If Bikes countless produces one bike, total variable cost for straight materials amounts to $40. If Bikes limitless doubles its production to 2 bikes, total variable cost for straight materials likewise doubles come $80. Variable prices typically readjust in ratio to alters in volume of activity. If volume of activity doubles, total variable costs additionally double, if the expense per unit continues to be the same. The is necessary to keep in mind that the term variable refers to what happens to total costs with transforms in activity, no to the price per unit.

Taking it one step additional for Bikes Unlimited, let’s take into consideration all variable expenses related to production. Assume direct materials, straight labor, and also all other variable production expenses amount come $60 per unit. Table 5.1 “Variable Cost habits for Bikes Unlimited” offers the total and also per unit variable expenses at three various levels the production, and also Figure 5.1 “Total variable Production prices for Bikes Unlimited” graphs the relation of complete variable costs (y-axis) to units produced (x-axis). Note that the steep of the line represents the variable cost per unit that $60 (slope = change in variable expense ÷ adjust in systems produced).

Table 5.1 variable Cost habits for Bikes Unlimited

Units ProducedTotal variable CostsPer Unit change Cost
1$ 60$60

Figure 5.1 total Variable Production prices for Bikes Unlimited

Using Different activities to measure up Variable Costs

Question: at Bikes Unlimited, that is reasonable come assume that the activity, variety of units produced, will impact total variable expenses for straight materials and also direct labor. However, companies regularly use a different task to estimate total variable costs. What types of activities might be supplied to estimate variable costs?

Answer: The type of task used to calculation variable expenses depends top top the cost. Because that example, a legislation firm can use the number of job hours to calculation labor costs. One airline such together American Airlines could use hours of paris time to calculation fuel costs. A mail delivery organization such together UPS can use the number the packages processed to calculation labor costs connected with sorting packages. A retail store such as Best Buy could use sales dollars come estimate expense of goods sold.

Variable expenses are affected by different activities depending ~ above the organization. The score is to uncover the task that reasons the variable price so that accurate expense estimates can be made.

Fixed Costs

Question: prices that vary in complete with alters in task are called variable costs. What execute we contact costs that continue to be the same in full with changes in activity?

Answer: This cost actions pattern is dubbed a addressed cost. A fixed cost describes a price that is fixed (does no change) in total with changes in volume of activity. Suspect the activity is the variety of bikes produced and also sold, instances of fixed costs include salaried personnel, structure rent, and insurance.

Assume Bikes endless pays $8,000 every month in rent for its production facility. In addition, insurance for the same building is $2,000 per month and salaried production personnel are paid $6,000 per month. All other fixed production costs complete $4,000. Therefore Bikes endless has full fixed prices of $20,000 per month concerned its manufacturing facility (= $8,000 + $2,000 + $6,000 + $4,000). If just one cycle is produced, Bikes limitless still need to pay $20,000 every month. If 5,000 bikes room produced, Bikes unlimited still payment $20,000 every month. The fixed expenses remain the same in total as the level of activity changes.

Question: What happens to fixed costs on a per unit basis as manufacturing levels change?

Answer: If Bikes limitless only to produce one bike, the fixed expense per unit would amount to $20,000 (= $20,000 total fixed expenses ÷ 1 bike). If Bikes countless produces 2 bikes, the fixed cost per unit would be $10,000 (= $20,000 ÷ 2 bikes). As task increases, the fixed expenses are spread out out over much more units, which results in a lower cost per unit.

Table 5.2 “Fixed Cost behavior for Bikes Unlimited” offers the total and per unit fixed prices at three different levels the production, and also Figure 5.2 “Total fixed Production costs for Bikes Unlimited” graphs the relation of full fixed prices (y-axis) come units produced (x-axis). Keep in mind that regardless of the activity level, total fixed expenses remain the same.

Table 5.2 resolved Cost actions for Bikes Unlimited

Units ProducedTotal fixed CostsPer Unit fixed Cost

Figure 5.2 total Fixed Production prices for Bikes Unlimited

United Airlines battles to manage Costs

United Airlines is the second largest air transport in the world. It has actually hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, mountain Francisco, and new York and also flies to 109 destinations in 23 countries. Destinations incorporate Tokyo, London, and Frankfurt.

Back in 2002, United filed for bankruptcy. Industry experts reported that United had reasonably high resolved costs, making it challenging for the firm to cut expenses quickly in line with its reduction in revenue. A few years later, United emerged from bankruptcy, and also in 2010 an unified with Continental Airlines. Back financial details was presented separately for each firm (United and also Continental) in 2010, both service providers are currently owned by United continental Holdings, Inc. The adhering to financial information for United Airlines is native the company’s income statement for the year finished December 31, 2010 (amounts room in millions). Review this information carefully. Which prices are most likely to be fixed?

Although us cannot determine all fixed costs with certainty, several prices likely autumn into this category: incomes (for union employees, such as pilots, flight crews, and mechanics); plane fuel (assuming flights room not conveniently canceled); aircraft rent; and depreciation. These costs full $11.1 billion, or 60 percent of full operating prices (rounded). Fixed costs are clearly a big component of total operating expenses, which provides it complicated for airline companies like United Airlines to make temporary cuts in expenses when revenue declines.

Committed versus Discretionary resolved Costs

Question: Organizations often view fixed expenses as either committed or discretionary. What is the difference between these two species of fixed costs?

Answer: A cursed fixed expense is a fixed cost that cannot quickly be readjusted in the quick run without having actually a significant impact top top the organization. For example, assume Bikes countless has a five-year lease top top the company’s manufacturing facility, which costs $8,000 per month. This is a committed resolved cost because the lease cannot easily be broken, and also the firm is cursed to utilizing this facility for years to come. Other instances of cursed fixed expenses include salaried employees with irreversible contracts, depreciation on buildings, and insurance.

A discretionary fixed price is a fixed price that deserve to be changed in the short run without having a far-reaching impact top top the organization. For example, i think Bikes countless contributes $10,000 annually toward charity organizations. Management has actually the choice of changing this lot in the short run without leading to a significant impact on the organization. Other examples of discretionary fixed prices include advertising, research and also development, and also training programs (although an discussion can it is in made the reducing this expenditures can have a significant impact on the firm depending top top the lot of the cuts).

In general, management looks to cut discretionary fixed expenses when sales and also profits room declining, due to the fact that cuts in this area tend not to have actually as far-ranging an impact on the company as cutting committed solved costs. Difficulties arise when struggling organizations go past cutting discretionary resolved costs and also begin feather at cut committed resolved costs.

Mixed Costs

Question: We have actually now learned about two types of cost habits patterns—variable costs and also fixed costs. However, over there is a third form of expense that behaves in different ways in that both total and also per unit costs readjust with transforms in activity. What carry out we contact this type of cost?

Answer: This cost habits pattern is referred to as a blended cost. The hatchet mixed cost describes a price that has actually a mix that fixed and variable costs. Because that example, assume sales personnel in ~ Bikes unlimited are payment a complete of $10,000 in monthly value plus a the supervisory board of $7 because that every bicycle sold. This is a combined cost since it has actually a resolved component the $10,000 every month and also a variable component the $7 every unit.

Table 5.3 “Mixed Cost habits for Bikes Unlimited” offers the total and also per unit fixed prices at three various levels the production, and Figure 5.3 “Total blended Sales Compensation expenses for Bikes Unlimited” graphs the relationship of total mixed expenses (y-axis) come units developed (x-axis). The point at i beg your pardon the line intersects the y-axis represents the total fixed price ($10,000), and the steep of the heat represents the variable cost per unit ($7).

Table 5.3 combined Cost actions for Bikes Unlimited

Units SoldTotal combined CostsPer Unit mixed Cost

Figure 5.3 full Mixed Sales Compensation costs for Bikes Unlimited

Because this expense is portrayed with a straight line, we have the right to use the equation because that a directly line to explain a mixed cost:

Key Equation

Total mixed price = full fixed cost + (Unit variable price × number of units)


Y = f + vX


Y = total mixed costs (this is the y-axis in number 5.3 “Total blended Sales Compensation costs for Bikes Unlimited”)f = complete fixed costsv = variable cost per unitX = level of activity (this is the x-axis in figure 5.3 “Total mixed Sales Compensation expenses for Bikes Unlimited”)

For Bikes Unlimited, the mixed expense equation is Y = $10,000 + $7X. If Bikes limitless sells 4,000 bikes (X) in one month, the total mixed expense (Y) because that sales personnel compensation would certainly be $38,000 <= $10,000 + ($7 × 4,000 units)>.

Short hatchet Versus long Term and also the relevant Range

We now present two important concepts that need to be thought about when estimating costs: quick term versus long term, and also the pertinent range.

Short term Versus lengthy Term

Question: when identifying cost habits patterns, us assume that management is utilizing the cost information to make momentary decisions. Why is this momentary decision making assumption so important?

Answer: Variable, fixed, and mixed cost principles are advantageous for temporary decision making and also therefore apply to a specific duration of time. This short-term duration will vary depending upon the company’s present production capacity and the time compelled to readjust capacity. In the lengthy term, all cost habits patterns will likely change.

For example, expect Bikes Unlimited’s manufacturing capacity is 8,000 systems per month, and management to plan to increase capacity in two years by renting a brand-new production facility and also hiring additional personnel. This is a long-term decision that will change the cost actions patterns established earlier. Change production expenses will no longer be $60 per unit, solved production prices will no longer be $20,000 per month, and also mixed sales compensation prices will additionally change. Every these costs will adjust because the estimates are accurate only in the short term.

The pertinent Range

Question: an additional important principle we use as soon as estimating expenses is referred to as the appropriate range. What is the relevant range and why is that so necessary when estimating costs?

Answer: The relevant range is the selection of activity for which cost behavior patterns are likely to be accurate. The variable, fixed, and mixed prices identified for Bikes endless will only be precise within a particular range of activity. As soon as the firm goes exterior that range, price estimates are not necessarily accurate and also often need to be reevaluated and recalculated.

For example, assume Bikes Unlimited’s blended sales compensation prices of $10,000 per month plus $7 per unit is only valid up to 4,000 devices per month. If unit sales increase beyond 4,000 units, management will hire added salespeople and the complete monthly basic salary will certainly increase past $10,000. Thus the relevant selection for this mixed cost is indigenous zero to 4,000 units. As soon as the firm exceeds sales that 4,000 units per month, it is out of the relevant range, and the mixed expense must be recalculated.

We talk about the relevant range concept in an ext detail later in the chapter. Because that now, remember the the accuracy of cost habits patterns is minimal to a specific range of activity called the relevant range.

Computer Application

Using Excel to produce Charts

Managers frequently use computer applications top top a day-to-day basis to perform a variety of functions. For example, they often use Excel to create tables, graphs, and also charts. You might use Excel to create the charts presented in number 5.1 “Total change Production expenses for Bikes Unlimited”, number 5.2 “Total solved Production expenses for Bikes Unlimited”, and Figure 5.3 “Total mixed Sales Compensation prices for Bikes Unlimited”. Here’s how:

Create the chart. After girlfriend have entered the data, highlight the ideal data cells (including headings and also labels) and click ~ above Insert, Chart, Scatter. Choose Scatter through Smooth Lines and also Markers. The graph that outcomes is connected to her data points. If you change the data, the graph changes, too. (In earlier versions that Excel, the graph wizard walks you with the steps vital to produce the chart.)Format the chart. now that friend have developed the chart, choose it and also use Chart devices to layout it v background shading, text inserts, font size, chart size, and also other an ext advanced features. If you want to display screen the chart within some other paper (e.g., a native document), you deserve to copy the (highlight the chart and also select Edit, Copy from the food selection bar) and paste it into the record (select Edit, Paste or Paste Special).

The Excel file created by complying with these three steps would look like the one shown in number 5.1 “Total change Production costs for Bikes Unlimited”.

How Cost behavior Patterns space Used

Question: How do managers use cost actions patterns to make far better decisions?

Answer: correctly predicting what expenses will be later can help managers answer several vital questions. Because that example, supervisors at Bikes Unlimited might ask the following:

We mean to watch a 5 percent rise in unit sales next year. Exactly how will this impact revenues and costs?We are applying for a loan through a bank, and bank supervisors think our sales estimates are high. What wake up to ours revenues and costs if us lower approximates by 20 percent?What happens to revenues and also costs if we include a racing bike to our product line?How will expenses behave later if we boost automation in the production process?

The only way to accurately predict expenses is to know how expenses behave given changes in activity. To make great decisions, managers must understand how prices are structured (fixed, variable, or mixed). The next section explains how to calculation fixed and also variable costs, and how to determine the fixed and also variable contents of combined costs.

Budget cuts at one Elementary institution District

A institution district exterior Sacramento, California, was confronted with making budget cuts because of a reduction in state funding. To alleviate costs, the institution district’s administration decided to think about closing among the smaller elementary institutions in the district. Follow to one initial estimate, close up door this school would reduce prices by $500,000 come $1,000,000 every year. However, further evaluation identified only $100,000 come $150,000 in cost savings.

Why go the analysis yield lower savings 보다 the initial estimate? most of the expenses were committed fixed prices (e.g., teachers’ salaries and benefits) and also could no be got rid of in the quick term. In fact, teachers and also students in ~ the school being thought about for closure were to be relocated to other schools in the district, and so no to save on teachers’ salaries and benefits would result. The just real short-term expense savings would be in not having to preserve the classrooms, computer system lab, and library (nonunion employees would be permit go) and also in utilities (heat and also air conditioning would be turn off).

The institution district ultimately made decision not to close the school since of the large committed fixed costs involved, as well as a absence of neighborhood support, and budget cuts were make in other locations throughout the district.

Review problem 5.1

Sierra company is make the efforts to determine the behavior of the three costs shown in the following table. The following expense information is detailed for 6 months. Calculation the cost per unit, and also then identify exactly how each expense behaves (fixed, variable, or mixed). Explain your answers.

Cost 1Cost 2Cost 3
MonthUnits ProducedTotal CostsCost every UnitTotal CostsCost every UnitTotal CostsCost per Unit

Solution come Review problem 5.1

As shown in the complying with table, price 1 is a variable cost due to the fact that as the variety of units created changes, complete costs change (in proportion to alters in activity) and per unit price remains the same. Cost 2 is a addressed cost due to the fact that as the number of units produced changes, full costs stay the same and per unit expenses change. Expense 3 is a combined cost because as the number of units produced changes, total cost transforms (but no in proportion to changes in activity) and also per unit price changes.

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Cost 1Cost 2Cost 3*Rounded.
MonthUnits ProducedTotal CostsCost every UnitTotal CostsCost per Unit*Total CostsCost every Unit*