Semi-Variable Cost Formula + Calculator

semivariable cost

If the company does not produce any mugs for the month, it still needs to pay $10,000 to rent the machine. But even if it produces one million mugs, its fixed cost remains the same. One of these includes classifying costs by behaviour, including variable, fixed, semi-variable, and stepped costs. Semi-variable costs include an element of both fixed and variable costs. Semi-variable expenses are prevalent in most industries or come from specific types of expenditure.

semivariable cost

As production, and the energy needed to power it, increases or decreases, the electricity bill will fluctuate. The accounting standards do not require that the fixed or variable nature of a cost be identified in a firm’s financial statements. Say the flat monthly fee is $100, and the per-usage fee is $1 for each gigabyte above the limit. For example, an executive may have a fixed salary but also be eligible for a variable annual bonus. You can see a detailed example, below, of the calculation involved in obtaining the semi-variable cost per order. These simple examples show it can be difficult to understand how costs behave.

Advantages of Semi Variable Costs

So, under a semi-variable cost, a variable cost component arises where a specific limit has been exceeded. Typically, production of goods or service-offering up to a specific limit is governed by a fixed cost. Regardless of the production output, as long as it falls within the specified limit, it continues to incur a fixed cost. After a certain level of production, they then tend to vary with the output. Even in the case where the company has no production, these costs still incur.

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In general, it can often be specifically calculated as the sum of the types of variable costs discussed below. Variable costs may need to be allocated across goods if they are incurred in batches (i.e. 100 pounds of raw materials are purchased to manufacture 10,000 finished goods). A variable cost is a corporate expense what is a good liquidity ratio that changes in proportion to how much a company produces or sells. Variable costs increase or decrease depending on a company’s production or sales volume—they rise as production increases and fall as production decreases. A business experiences semi-variable costs in relation to the operation of fleet vehicles.

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Generally, a business is said to incur two types of cost – fixed cost and variable cost. The fixed cost refers to a cost that doesn’t change regardless of the production output. In contrast, a variable cost is one that depends solely on the level of output. A semi-variable cost therefore combines the features of a fixed cost and a variable cost.

Variable costs are an important element to consider when managing a business. These costs vary with production volume, meaning that they can increase or decrease based on how much is being produced. For example, if a business is producing a large amount of product, the raw materials needed will be greater and the direct labor required will increase.

Raw Materials

Similarly, an executive’s pay structure may have a fixed component, such as salary, and a variable portion, such as an annual bonus. For this reason, variable costs are a required item for companies trying to determine their break-even point. In addition, variable costs are necessary to determine sale targets for a specific profit target.

  • Fixed, variable and semi-variable costs differ in the way they vary with production or activity volumes.
  • In this instance, the cost of insurance, licensing, and depreciation of the industrial sewing machine is fixed and does not change regardless of the output.
  • Since fixed costs are more challenging to bring down (for example, reducing rent may entail the company moving to a cheaper location), most businesses seek to reduce their variable costs.
  • Once production surpasses this limit, the nature of the cost becomes variable.
  • Direct expenses can be classified as semi-variable costs, since the variable portion will change with increases and decreases in production.

“On-call time paid to a salary employee in a service company, if they are called in to work and support a client after hours, is a direct expense of the service. In this case, it would be treated as a semi-variable cost,” says Beth Fisher. The number of production units is the fluctuating volume metric that determines the variable component of the cost, e.g. number of miles driven or the number of units produced. A Semi-Variable Cost is comprised of a fixed amount incurred irrespective of production volume, as well as a variable component that fluctuates based on output. A salesperson’s pay structure typically has a fixed component, such as a salary, and a variable portion, such as a commission.


Understanding cost behaviour is crucial for companies to forecast, budget, manage costs and make informed decisions about pricing, production levels, and profitability. While variable costs tend to remain flat, the impact of fixed costs on a company’s bottom line can change based on the number of products it produces. The price of a greater amount of goods can be spread over the same amount of a fixed cost. In this way, a company may achieve economies of scale by increasing production and lowering costs.

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These are costs that are fixed for a certain level of production, and once this level is exceeded, it becomes variable. For example, the electricity cost is a semi-variable cost that contains both the fixed and variable costs. Electricity bill consists of a fixed monthly charge that does not change either electricity used or not however, on the usage of electricity it increases per unit basis as a variable element.

What Are Examples of Semi-Variable Costs?

Variable costs are a direct input in the calculation of contribution margin, the amount of proceeds a company collects after using sale proceeds to cover variable costs. Every dollar of contribution margin goes directly to paying for fixed costs; once all fixed costs have been paid for, every dollar of contribution margin contributes to profit. In general, companies with a high proportion of variable costs relative to fixed costs are considered to be less volatile, as their profits are more dependent on the success of their sales. Therefore, a semi-variable cost may be classified into any expense account such as utility or rent.

A semi-variable cost is also known as a mixed cost and a semi-fixed cost. The term sunk cost refers to money that has already been spent and can’t be recovered. While sunk costs may be considered fixed costs, not all fixed costs are considered sunk. For instance, a fixed cost isn’t sunk if a piece of machinery that a company purchases can be sold to someone else for the original purchase price. For example, raw materials may cost $0.50 per pound for the first 1,000 pounds.

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