High-Low Method Definition, Formula, Calculate

This can be used to calculate the total cost of various units for the bakery. No, there are other methods apart from the high-low method accounting formula. Some workers compensation for non popular methods are the scatter plot method, accounting, and regression analysis. But the high-low cost method provides a simple approach to achieve it.

If you calculate how much the activity changed, you now have the total variable cost for the additional activity. When creating the scatter graph, each point will represent a pair of activity and cost values. Maintenance costs are plotted on the vertical axis (Y), while flight hours are plotted on the horizontal axis (X). For instance, one point will represent 21,000 hours and $84,000 in costs. The next point on the graph will represent 23,000 hours and $90,000 in costs, and so forth, until all of the pairs of data have been plotted. Finally, a trend line is added to the chart in order to assist managers in seeing if there is a positive, negative, or zero relationship between the activity level and cost.

The accountant at an events management company is preparing a payroll budget based on costs from the past year. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets.

How to Use the High Low Method to Estimate Fixed and Variable Costs?

Cost accounting is a type of managerial accounting that attempts to capture a company’s entire cost of production by analyzing both variable and fixed costs, such as a leasing fee. Although easy to understand, high low method may be unreliable because it ignores all the data except for the two extremes. We can calculate the variable cost and fixed cost components by using the High-Low method. The high low method determines the fixed and variable components of a cost. It can be applied in discerning the fixed and variable elements of the cost of a product, machine, store, geographic sales region, product line, etc. Calculate the fixed cost by substitution, using either the high or low activity level.

  • 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.
  • He anticipates that the number of guests in September will be 3,000.
  • These expenses include labor costs, shipping costs, and VAT charges.
  • Now add the fixed cost (step 3) and variable cost for the new activity (step 4) together to get the total cost of overheads for May.

April is the high point with 2,950 oil changes and January is the low point with 2,200 oil changes. The average activity level and the average cost for the periods in the database are then computed. The fixed cost is calculated by subtracting the variable cost for the average activity level from the total average cost. It is a very simple method to analyze the cost without getting into complex calculations.

What Is the High-Low Method Formula?

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 highest activity for the bakery occurred in October when it baked the highest number of cakes, while August had the lowest activity level with only 70 cakes baked at a cost of $3,750. The cost amounts adjacent to these activity levels will be used in the high-low method, even though these cost amounts are not necessarily the highest and lowest costs for the year. Calculating the outcome for the high-low method requires a few formula steps. First, you must calculate the variable cost component and then the fixed cost component, and then plug the results into the cost model formula.

How do I calculate the fixed cost using the high-low method?

However, the reliability of the variable costs with two extreme activity levels poses questions over the effectiveness of the method. To illustrate the problem, let’s assume that the total cost is $1,200 when there are 100 units of product manufactured, and $6,000 when there are 400 units of product are manufactured. The high-low method computes the variable cost rate by dividing the change in the total costs by the change in the number of units of manufactured. In other words, the $4,800 change in total costs is divided by the change in units of 300 to yield the variable cost rate of $16 per unit of product.

Functions of Cost Equations

Similar to management accounting, cost accounting is the process of allocating costs to cost items, which often comprise a business’s products, services, and other activities. Cost accounting is useful because it can show where a company spends money, how much it earns, and where it loses money. The high-low method is a straightforward, if not slightly lengthy, way to figure out your total costs. Since you have the total cost equation now, you can use this to calculate your cost any month. The next step is to calculate the variable cost element using the following formula.

The high low method uses a small amount of data to separate fixed and variable costs. It takes the highest and lowest activity levels and compares their total costs. On the other hand, regression analysis shows the relationship between two or more variables.

The Difference Between the High-Low Method and Regression Analysis

Due to its unreliability, high low method should be carefully used, usually in cases where the data is simple and not too scattered. For complex scenarios, alternate methods should be considered such as scatter-graph method and least-squares regression method. For example, the table below depicts the activity for a cake bakery for each of the 12 months of a given year. She has been assigned the task of budgeting payroll costs for the next quarter. The company approves a 5% pay raise at the start of each year and expects that work hours will be 20,000 for the next quarter considering the new hires. Take your learning and productivity to the next level with our Premium Templates.

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