It is presented in total, so we can’t immediately determine the fixed or variable components. In cost accounting, the high-low method is a way of attempting to separate out fixed and variable costs given a limited amount of data. The high-low method involves taking the highest level of activity and the lowest level of activity and comparing the total costs at each level.

The end result may not be as accurate as with other approaches but will generally be more than sufficient for most purposes, especially for SMEs. If the data is inaccurate, either method will produce inaccurate results. Good bookkeeping is still essential to ensure high-quality data for analysis. To learn more about bookkeeping, our guide on small business bookkeeping will teach you how to perform small business bookkeeping and how to organize accounting data appropriately.

You can us our labor cost calculator and VAT calculator to understand more on this topic. Given the dataset below, develop a cost model and predict the costs that will be incurred in September. If service contracts use variable pricing, there is a strong possibility that this pricing is tiered. There is also a strong possibility that the rate of increase is non-linear. This can effectively make it impossible to get a true average variable cost.

Using either the high or low activity cost should yield approximately the same fixed cost value. Note that our fixed cost differs by $6.35 depending on whether we use the high or low activity cost. It is a nominal difference, and choosing either fixed cost for our cost model will suffice. The computations above show that the actual total costs and computed total costs using the equation don’t match. This scenario best shows that there will be instances where the cost equation won’t hold true. You can now use this cost equation to project future costs of client support calls for budgeting purposes.

The high-low method is actually a two-step process where the first step will help us to determine the estimated total cost per unit. The second step of the process is where we take the cost per unit that we established from the first step and figure out the fixed costs for that level of production. Once we have those two pieces of information, we can use them to figure out the approximate cost for any level of production. Lets say that you started a business producing waterproof cell phone cases for retail sales.

  1. We can calculate the variable cost and fixed cost components by using the High-Low method.
  2. Good bookkeeping is still essential to ensure high-quality data for analysis.
  3. The variable cost per unit is equal to the slope of the cost volume line (i.e. change in total cost ÷ change in number of units produced).
  4. These estimates are helpful to management when preparing budgets for upcoming months.

It enables identifying the cost structure of a given product, which enables estimating the cost of production given a level of output. The high low method and regression analysis are the two main cost estimation methods used to estimate the amounts of fixed and variable costs. Usually, managers must break mixed costs into their fixed and variable components to predict and plan for the future. The high-low method is a cost accounting technique that compares the total cost at the highest and lowest production level of business activity. It uses this comparison to estimate the fixed cost, variable cost, and a cost function for finding the total cost of different production units. Once the variable cost per unit and the fixed costs are calculated, the future expected activity level costs can be determined using the same equation.

Managers can implement this technique with ease since it does not require any special tools. However, in many cases, the increased production levels need additional fixed costs such as the additional purchase of machinery or other assets. The higher production volumes also reduce the variable proportion of costs too.

Advantages and disadvantages of the high-low method accounting formula

A business organization might be paying $500 monthly just to keep the light and buildings operating at minimal level. However, if the production level increases, the electricity bill will be higher than the minimum subscription fee. For fixed costs, they refer to the costs that remain the same regardless the output level.

The process of calculating the estimated fixed costs and variable costs takes a step by step approach with the High-Low method. The high-low method is an easy way to segregate fixed and variable costs. By only requiring two data values and some algebra, cost accountants can quickly and easily determine information about cost behavior.

High-Low Method Formula

Suppose a company Green Star provides the following production scenario for the 06 months of the production period. Hence, the manager needs to request from the CFO a total production budget of $87,750. He has a CPA license in the Philippines and a BS in Accountancy graduate at Silliman University. For example, the table below depicts the activity for a cake bakery for each of the 12 months of a given year. The high low method excludes the effects of inflation when estimating costs.

The change in the total costs is thus the variable cost rate times the change in the number of units of activity. The method is a simple mathematical equation that splits the semi-variable costs into variable and fixed costs. The analysis can also provide useful forecasts for future activity level cost analysis. However, the reliability of the variable costs with two extreme activity levels poses questions over the effectiveness of the method.

Variable Cost per Unit

If you want to double-check if the equation is correct, try computing for other months and check if your answer and the total client support costs are the same. Regression analysis helps forecast costs as well, by comparing the influence of one predictive variable upon another value or criteria. However, regression analysis is only as good as the set of data points used, and the results suffer when the data set is incomplete. The highest activity level is 18,000 in Q4, and the lowest activity level is 10,000 in Q1.

Fixed costs are expenses that remain the same irrespective of the quantity or number of units of goods produced for sale or services rendered. Another drawback of the high-low method is the ready availability of better cost estimation tools. For example, the least-squares regression is a method that takes into consideration all data points and creates quickbooks online vs quickbooks desktop an optimized cost estimate. It can be easily and quickly used to yield significantly better estimates than the high-low method. By contrast, the high-low method is simple enough to be used by anyone who understands basic maths. In fact, very small businesses (e.g. freelancers) could probably do the necessary calculations with just a basic calculator.

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For the last 12 months, you have noted the monthly cost and the number of burgers sold in the corresponding month. Now you want to use a high-low method to segregate fixed and variable costs. In most real-world cases, it should be possible to obtain more information so the variable and fixed costs can be determined directly. Thus, the high-low method should only be used when it is not possible to obtain actual billing data. The high-low method is relatively unreliable because it only takes two extreme activity levels into consideration. The high-low method is a simple analysis that takes less calculation work.

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