What Distinguishes Fixed Costs from Variable Costs?


Since fixed expenditures don’t vary from month to month or period to period, you may anticipate them with certainty for personal budgeting reasons. Because they include expenses like rent or mortgage payments, auto payments, and insurance premiums, they sometimes account for the greatest portion of your budget. 

On the other hand, it might be difficult to predict variable costs before they occur. Although you can estimate them, they may be greater or lower than you thought. Examples include utilities, petrol, and food. These illustrations demonstrate that while discretionary expenditure is often a variable cost, variable expenses may also be necessary.

What Exactly Are Variable Expenses?

Clothing, travel, entertainment, dining out, presents, facials, and home goods are typical examples of variable costs.

Numerous variable costs only occur occasionally a few times a year. Consider the flight you just purchased to visit your relatives in California. However, certain variable expenditures occur every month. 

For instance, the amount you spend for petrol, parking, food, and personal care services may vary from the amount you paid in the past or will pay in the future. And if you thought about “I need a 100 dollar loan now” and took this money on credit, then next month there will be less money left in your budget. These are also variable expenses because the amount is not huge and it is calculated that you will pay it back soon.

Budgeting may be quite challenging when dealing with sporadic and continuous variable expenditures since you never truly know how much you’ll need for this category of monthly expenses.

Having said that, you should not spend more than 30% of your income on variable expenses that might shift from month to month. The good news is that you often have a bit more control over many of your variable expenditures and can eliminate most of them if necessary. Additionally, it is often far simpler to reduce variable costs than fixed ones like your rent.

What Exactly Are Fixed Expenses?

A fixed cost is simply one that you can anticipate staying the same or quite similar over time in your budget. You don’t have to hazard a guess at how much you’ll spend toward fixed costs when you sit down to create your monthly budget. Those sums from the budget for the previous month may just be carried over.

From a planning standpoint, having one or more set costs in your budget is a smart idea. Budgeting becomes easier because these costs are more or less constant. This may make utilizing certain budgeting techniques, such as the 50/20/30 budget or zero-based budgeting, simpler.

Fixed costs may not only be paid in about the same amounts each month but also on the same day of the month. Again, the benefit is that budgeting may be simpler to achieve with monthly bill payments. Having bills due around the same time might help you avoid late payments and the fines that come with them if you budget based on paychecks or set up automated bill payments.

Organizing Your Expenditures

It could be challenging to categorize some costs into fixed or variable ones when attempting to distinguish between them.

On the surface, it could seem that although variable expenditures are optional extras, fixed expenses are necessary. However, unforeseen expenditures like a trip to the emergency room or the need for new tires for your automobile due to a blowout would be categorized as variable costs since they don’t happen often.

A Fixed Expenditure Is Defined As:

  • Has a regular occurrence (most often monthly, but can also be weekly, quarterly, or annually).
  • Remains constant for each payment.
  • Is reasonable to anticipate, and you should be ready for it.

A Variable Expenditure Is Defined As:

  • Varies in frequency and volume.
  • Maybe surprising
  • Difficult to fit within your budget.

Writing down all of your spendings can help you determine whether they are constant or variable, allowing you to create the best budget and plan possible.

Savings Expenses

You may not have previously considered saving as a monthly expenditure, but you should! Setting aside 20% of your salary as savings for the future should be your objective. These funds may be put away in an emergency fund, invested for retirement, or used to jumpstart your first-home down payment savings.

If you are like most individuals, you struggle to save money for both short-term and long-term objectives, then don’t get too upset. According to 2019 data, 45% of Americans have not saved any money at all. And 24% have saved less than $1,000. Expenses were cited as the main factor when survey respondents asked why they fell short of their goals. In such cases, you already need to think about budgeting your finances, which is why it is important to know the difference between fixed and variable costs. For the survey you can use the NPS survey tool.

How to Reduce Both Fixed and Variable Costs

You may still make savings on expenses even if they are fixed. That’s accurate. Negotiation, market research, and the power of paying in advance may all help you save some of your hard-earned money when it comes to fixed and variable expenditures.

How To Save Costs On Recurring Expenses:

  • Pay in full up advance to save: Never undervalue the influence of money. Paying a significant sum of money in advance for both your home and vehicle insurance may often result in cost savings.
  • Negotiate: Everything is a bargain. You never know; maybe painting your rental windows will convince the landlord to reduce your rent by a few hundred dollars.
  • Compare prices: Always compare prices. It doesn’t always mean you’re receiving the best bargain just because you’ve been with the same insurance provider for years—you might be overpaying or even overinsured.
  • Unused subscriptions should be canceled: List the ones you use, then discontinue the others. Quick savings!

How to Reduce Variable Expense Costs:

  • Coupons should be cut: When it comes to saving money, coupons may be your greatest friend whether you’re purchasing groceries, new clothing, or even school supplies. But heed the warning: Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you should use it to purchase the item.
  • Visit bargain retailers: To eat properly, you don’t have to spend your whole income at a high-end supermarket. You may make substantial financial savings by using coupons when you shop at places like Aldi, Walmart, or Kroger.
  • Your coffee to brew: The average price of a 16-ounce Americano is nearly $5. Brew your coffee at home and keep the coffee shop for exceptional occasions to avoid wasting money.
  • Make a lunch bag: You may save more of your hard-earned money if you bring your lunch rather than dining out.


It’s crucial to attempt to stick to your budget in addition to having one. This implies that you adhere to the spending guidelines you’ve established for yourself, going beyond merely laying out your budget. To prevent going overboard, living within your means may require reevaluating necessities vs desires. However, doing so has the benefit of resulting in a balanced budget without running the danger of accruing high-interest debt.


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