What Are Semi Variable Costs?

What Are Semi Variable Costs?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

Semi-variable costs are expenses that have both fixed and variable components. The fixed component is an expense that must be paid regardless of the level of output or activity. This remains constant over time. On the other hand, the variable component changes with the level of activity or output.

For example, a phone bill may have a fixed monthly cost, and then an additional variable cost based on the number of calls you make. Even if you don’t make any calls, you would still need to pay the fixed cost. But as your use of the phone increases, the variable part of the cost also increases. Thus, as the level of output or activity changes, the total semi-variable cost will also change.

Related Questions

1. What is an example of a semi-variable cost in a manufacturing company?

A semi-variable cost example in a manufacturing company could be electricity costs. A portion of the electricity is used constantly, like the power needed for maintaining office operations, lighting, and heating, which forms the fixed component. The power used in manufacturing operations, which fluctuates based on production levels, comprises the variable component.

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2. How can semi-variable costs be managed effectively?

Semi-variable costs can be managed effectively by monitoring and controlling the variable component. This includes active supervision of activities that lead to these costs and efficient utilization of resources. You can also negotiate for better terms for the fixed component to lower the overall semi-variable costs.

3. Do semi-variable costs affect profit?

Yes, since semi-variable costs form part of a business’s total costs, they affect the overall profit. If an organization increases its output beyond a certain level, the variable component of these costs will affect profit margins. Therefore, controlling semi-variable costs is crucial for profitability.

4. How do semi-variable costs differ from fixed and variable costs?

Semi-variable costs differ from fixed costs because they fluctuate with changes in the volume of activity or output, although to a lesser extent. They differ from variable costs because they also have a fixed component that has to be paid regardless of the level of activity or output.

5. Are salaries a semi-variable cost?

It depends on the structure of the compensation. If there’s a fixed salary plus performance-based commissions or bonuses, for instance, the salary could be considered a semi-variable cost as it has both a fixed and variable component.