The Relevant Range and Nonlinear Costs

What happens to the AFC if they increase or decrease the number of boats produced? A school district outside Sacramento, California, was faced with making budget cuts because of a reduction in state funding. To reduce costs, the school district’s administration decided to consider closing one of the smaller elementary schools in the district.

Cost Behavior and Relevant Range of Activity

These changes in variable costs per unit could be caused by circumstances beyond their control, such as a shortage of raw materials or an increase in shipping costs due to high gas prices. In any case, average variable cost can Cost Behavior and Relevant Range of Activity be useful for managers to get a big picture look at their variable costs per unit. We have established that fixed costs do not change in total as the level of activity changes, but what about fixed costs on a per-unit basis?


Two specialized types of fixed costs are committed fixed costs and discretionary fixed costs. These classifications are generally used for long-range planning purposes and are covered in upper-level managerial accounting courses, so they are only briefly described here. Tony operates a screen-printing company, specializing in custom T-shirts. Regardless of whether he produces and sells any T-shirts, he is obligated under his lease to pay $1,000 per month. However, he can consider this fixed cost on a per-unit basis, as shown in Figure 6.25.

Let’s examine Tony’s screen-printing company to illustrate how costs can remain fixed in total but change on a per-unit basis. The contribution margin is very important in analyzing cost behavior. It equals revenue from sales left over after deducting variable costs and represents how much revenue remains to cover fixed costs. The higher the contribution margin, the more each
sale will help offset fixed costs. Let’s assume that it costs a bakery $15 to make a cake—$5 for raw materials such as sugar, milk, and flour, and $10 for the direct labor involved in making one cake.

Cost Behavior Analysis Template

The warehouse rent per annum is $100,000 regardless of the number of bikes parked there, so it is a fixed cost. In the content above, we examined two methods of analyzing cost behaviors. However, many companies often examine the relationship between multiple independent variables and a single dependent variable.

Discretionary fixed costs generally are fixed costs that can be incurred during some periods and postponed during other periods but which cannot normally be eliminated permanently. Examples could include advertising campaigns and employee training. Both of these costs could potentially be postponed temporarily, but the company would probably incur negative effects if the costs were permanently eliminated.

Quantitative Cost Analysis

Remember that the reason that organizations take the time and effort to classify costs as either fixed or variable is to be able to control costs. When they classify costs properly, managers can use cost data to make decisions and plan for the future of the business. Although cost estimates are not perfect, companies generally clearly define a relevant range and assume that costs are linear within that given range.

Below 300,000 units, the fixed costs will drop to less than $1,400,000 because some salaries will be eliminated and some of the space might be rented. When the volume exceeds 500,000 units per year, the company will need to add fixed costs because of the additional space and the additional managers. Perhaps the total fixed costs will be $2,000,000 for output between 500,000 units and 700,000 units. The relevant range must also be considered when evaluating fixed costs. Many fixed costs are only fixed for a certain level of production.

How to Calculate Average Daily Inventory

Suppose, a cost accountant says that in the total semi-variable cost, there may be a 30% fixed cost and 70 % variable cost. After this, we do judgment and select a point where will be our fixed cost in semi-variable cost. This line shows the fixed cost, which will not be changed after changing output. Fixed costs are those who are not expected to change in total within the current budget year, irrespective of variations in the volume of activity. Step costs are best explained in the context of a business experiencing increases in activity beyond the relevant range.

  • It is determined under one of the costing methods used by manufacturing firms called target costing.
  • For example, if production increases by a large amount, a new plant may be needed, increasing fixed costs.
  • Mixed costs or semi-variable costs have properties of both fixed and variable costs due to the presence of both variable and fixed components in them.
  • The general takeaway is that there are many different ways of analyzing cost behavior data within a company and it is up to management to decide how in-depth they intend to take the analysis.
  • The Boeing Company generates around $90 billion each year from selling thousands of airplanes to commercial and military customers around the world.
  • The relevant range is the limit of cost-driver level within which a specific relationship between costs and the cost driver is valid.

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