In cost accounting, the high-low method is a technique used to split mixed costs into fixed and variable costs. Although the high-low method is easy to apply, it is seldom used because it can distort costs, due to its reliance on two extreme values from https://www.quick-bookkeeping.net/capitalizing-software-development-costs-for-saas/ a given data set. A cost that contains both fixed and variable costs is considered a mixed cost. The high-low method calculator will help you find the variable cost per unit, fixed cost, and cost-volume model for your business operation with ease.

The Total cost refers to a summation of the fixed and variable costs of production. Suppose the variable cost per unit is fixed, and fixed costs at the highest and lowest production levels remain the same. In that case, the high-low method calculator applies the high-low method formula to evaluate the total costs at any given amount of production.

Difference between highest and lowest activity units and their corresponding costs are used to calculate the variable cost per unit using the formula given above. The manager of a hotel would like to develop a cost model to predict the future costs of running the hotel. Unfortunately, how workplace simplicity impacts company results the only available data is the level of activity (number of guests) in a given month and the total costs incurred in each month. Being a new hire at the company, the manager assigns you the task of anticipating the costs that would be incurred in the following month (September).

## Related AccountingTools Course

The y-intercept (value of y when x is zero) would be equal to the fixed cost. The high-low method can also be done mathematically for accurate computation. Because of the preceding issues, the high-low method does not yield overly precise results. Thus, you should first attempt to discern the fixed and variable components of a cost from more reliable source documents, such as supplier invoices, before resorting to the high-low method. The main disadvantage of the high-low method is that it oversimplifies the relationship between cost and production activity by only taking the highest and lowest data points into account. The accountant at an events management company is preparing a payroll budget based on costs from the past year.

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. Now that we have this figure, let’s proceed to Step 3 to determine the total fixed cost. In most real-world cases, it should be possible to obtain more information so the variable and fixed costs can be determined directly.

Its drawback, however, is that not all data points are considered in the analysis. Other methods such as the scatter-graph method and linear regression address this flaw. The highest activity level is 18,000 in Q4, and the lowest activity level is 10,000 in Q1. By using the formula in computing the variable cost per unit, let’s substitute the figures we gathered from Step 1. If you or anyone in your company possesses statistical and data analysis skills, go for regression analysis and make use of other sophisticated methods like linear programming.

## Step 3 of 3

Sometimes, outliers—which are activity levels or costs that are abnormally high or low if compared to the rest of the observations—may exist in the data set. For instance, if the number of client calls in December reaches 1,000 calls, such is considered an outlier since it’s too far from the other observations. The highest and lowest activity levels are September at 300 client calls and October at 100 client calls.

- This can be used to calculate the total cost of various units for the bakery.
- The Total cost refers to a summation of the fixed and variable costs of production.
- It can be easily and quickly used to yield significantly better estimates than the high-low method.
- Now that we have this figure, let’s proceed to Step 3 to determine the total fixed cost.
- ABC International produces 10,000 green widgets in June at a cost of $50,000, and 5,000 green widgets in July at a cost of $35,000.

There was an incremental change between the two periods of $15,000 and 5,000 units, so the variable cost per unit during July must be $15,000 divided by 5,000 units, or $3 per unit. Since we have established that $15,000 of the costs incurred in July were variable, this means that the remaining $20,000 of costs were fixed. By substituting the amounts in the cost equation of the lowest point, we can determine the fixed cost (a). When analyzing costs as to behavior, costs are classified into fixed and variable costs. Before costs can be effectively used in analysis, they should be segregated into purely fixed and purely variable costs. Regression analysis helps forecast costs as well, by comparing the influence of one predictive variable upon another value or criteria.

## Step 1: Determine the Highest and Lowest Activity Levels

The activity level can pertain to any measurable business activity, such as documents processed, units produced, finished goods inspected, or services rendered. It is presented in total, so we can’t immediately determine the fixed or variable components. Whether the activity level is high or low, fixed costs remain constant.

## Example of the High-Low Method of Accounting

However, regression analysis is only as good as the set of data points used, and the results suffer when the data set is incomplete. 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. Given the variable cost per number of guests, we can now determine our fixed costs. No, there are other methods apart from the high-low method accounting formula.

Some popular methods are the scatter plot method, accounting, and regression analysis. Variable costs are expenses that change depending on the quantity of production or number of units sold. You can us our labor cost calculator and VAT calculator to understand more on this topic. 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. Follow the steps below to perform the high-low method by using our sample data from Fusion Company.

However, it can produce less accurate and unreliable results since it only uses two extreme data points. Therefore, even though we have zero client support calls, we still incur $1,500 client support costs because these are fixed costs. Simply multiplying the variable cost per unit (Step 2) by the number of units expected to be produced in April gives us the total variable cost for that month. It is important to remember here that it is the highest and lowest activity levels that need to be identified first rather than the highest/lowest cost. Due to the simplicity of using the high-low method to gain insight into the cost-activity relationship, it does not consider small details such as variation in costs. The high-low method assumes that fixed and unit variable costs are constant, which is not the case in real life.

## Recent Comments