What are variable expenses?

I have never been money savvy, but when I started blogging, I became fascinated by it. When it comes to personal finance, understanding your expenses is essential for managing your money effectively. Variable expenses are a critical component of your budget, and it’s essential to understand what they are, how they work, and how to manage them.

I know that for many people these things may seem complicated, but they don’t have to be.

In this article, I am going to explain to you in an easy-to-understand way what expenses are, and what are variable expenses.

But I am going to explore the subject further and briefly touch upon fixed, accrued, prepaid, and miscellaneous expenses, as well as variable and fixed costs, but also talk about budgeting and saving money.

What are expenses anyway?

Expenses refer to the money spent on goods or services to meet specific needs or wants. Let me explain this definition more clearly:

Expenses are the money you spend to buy things that you need or want. This can include things like food, clothes, and entertainment. Businesses also have expenses, which are the costs of making and selling their products or services.

  • In personal finance, expenses can include essential items like rent, groceries, and healthcare, as well as discretionary items like dining out, entertainment, and travel.
  • In business, expenses can include costs associated with producing goods or providing services, such as wages, raw materials, and marketing expenses.

Variable expenses definition.

Okay, what are these variable expenses?

Variable expenses are costs that can change over time. They vary from month to month or period to period, depending on the level of your activity. These expenses fluctuate based on how much money you spend.

Variable expenses examples.

There are many examples of variable expenses, they include:

  1. Food: Grocery expenses are a prime example of an expense. The amount you spend on food each month can vary based on your meal planning, shopping habits, and overall – your personal factors.
  2. Entertainment: Going to the cinema, streaming services (like Netflix), and other forms of entertainment are variable expenses because they can vary in cost from one month to the next.
  3. Transportation: Public transport or your car, fuel costs, maintenance, and repairs are all variable expenses associated with owning a car. The amount you spend on these expenses can fluctuate based on how often you drive and the condition of your car.
  4. Utility bills: Your electricity, gas, and water bills are variable expenses that often vary based on your usage.
  5. Day-to-day expenses: Variable expenses can also include other day-to-day expenses such as clothing, personal care, and other miscellaneous expenses.
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What are fixed expenses?

Fixed expenses are costs that remain the same over time, regardless of changes in other factors. Examples include things like rent, car payments, and insurance. Businesses also have fixed expenses, such as salaries and office rent.

What are accrued expenses?

Accrued expenses are another type of expense. These expenses are usually due at the end of the month or period and are based on previous payments or usage.

Examples of accrued expenses include credit card bills and utility bills.

What are prepaid expenses?

Prepaid expenses are the opposite of accrued expenses. These expenses are paid in advance and are typically associated with subscription services or other forms of ongoing expenses.

Examples of prepaid expenses include health insurance premiums and subscriptions to streaming services.

What are discretionary expenses?

Discretionary expenses are expenses that are not essential and can be cut or eliminated without affecting your basic needs.

For example, eating out, going to the movies, and buying new clothes are all discretionary expenses.

What are miscellaneous expenses?

Miscellaneous expenses are expenses that do not fit into any other category. For example, parking tickets, ATM fees, and late fees are all miscellaneous expenses.

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Costs vs expenses.

When it comes to variable expenses, is there a difference between costs and expenses?

Yes, there is a difference between costs and expenses. Let me explain in short – while all costs are expenses, not all expenses are costs.

Costs refer to the direct expenses incurred in the production of goods or services, such as the cost of raw materials, labor, and manufacturing overhead.

Expenses, on the other hand, refer to all of the costs incurred by a business in order to generate revenue, including things like rent, salaries, utilities, and marketing expenses.

Fixed or variable costs?

Understanding the difference between variable and fixed costs is essential for budgeting and managing your expenses effectively.

What are fixed costs?

Fixed costs are costs that remain constant regardless of changes in production output or sales volume. Fixed costs are typically easier to budget for because they remain the same over time and can be predicted with relative accuracy.

Examples of fixed costs include:

  • Rent or mortgage payments: These payments are typically due on a monthly basis and remain the same amount each month.
  • Property taxes: Property taxes are an example of a fixed cost because they are typically due on a regular basis and are the same amount each time.
  • Debt repayment: Monthly payments on loans, such as car payments, are a fixed cost because they are the same amount each month.

What are variable costs?

Variable costs are expenses that fluctuate based on production output or sales volume. These expenses are typically easier to control because they are tied to the level of activity.

Examples of variable costs include:

  • Materials: If you’re in the production business, the cost of materials will vary depending on how much you need to produce.
  • Labor: Labor costs are a variable expense because they will fluctuate based on how many employees you need to hire.
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Fixed and variable expenses.

When it comes to fixed and variable expenses, they may fall into both categories.

For example, health insurance premiums can be considered a fixed expense because they are the same amount each month, but they can also be considered a variable expense because they can increase or decrease based on changes in coverage.

The importance of variable expenses!

There is a difference between fixed and variable expenses, and variable expenses are important because they can have a big impact on your bottom line.

If you’re not careful, they can spiral out of control and put your business in financial trouble.

That’s why it’s important to track your variable expenses, create a budget, and set financial goals. By doing so, you can manage your variable expenses and keep your business on track.

Saving vs budgeting.

Which one is better – the saving or budgeting method?

While the specific method that works best for you may depend on your personal financial situation and goals, a combination of both saving and budgeting is likely to be the most effective approach for most people.

Budgeting for fixed and variable expenses.

Budgeting for fixed or variable expenses and fixed and variable costs is important.

For example, if you own a business, your fixed expense may include the cost of materials, labor, and overhead. By budgeting for variable costs, you can ensure that you’re pricing your products or services correctly and making a profit.

How to budget for variable expenses?

When you’re budgeting for variable expenses, it’s important to estimate how much you’ll spend each month.

You can do this by looking at your past spending and by making adjustments for any changes you expect in the future.

Once you know how much you’ll spend each month, create a budget line item for each expense. This will help you track your spending and make sure you’re not overspending.

Tips for managing variable expenses.

Here are a few tips for managing your variable expenses:

  • Track your spending.
  • Create a budget.
  • Set financial goals.
  • Make lifestyle adjustments.
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Budgeting for fixed expenses.

In addition to budgeting for variable expenses, it’s also important to budget for fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are those that stay roughly the same amount each month, such as rent, payments on a car, and property tax.

By budgeting for fixed expenses, you can ensure that you have enough money set aside each month to cover these essential expenses. This can help you avoid overspending and ensure that you have enough money left over to save for your financial goals.

Some common fixed expenses include:

  • Rent or mortgage payments.
  • Car repairs.
  • Property tax.
  • Health insurance premiums.
  • Childcare expenses.
  • Debt repayment.

When budgeting for fixed expenses, it’s important to keep in mind that they may not always stay the same amount. For example, the property tax may increase over time, or your health insurance premiums may go up.

It’s important to plan for these changes and adjust your budget accordingly.

How to save money on fixed expenses?

While fixed expenses may seem like they’re set in stone, there are still ways to save money on them. Here are a few tips:

  • Shop around for insurance.
  • Refinance your debt.
  • Negotiate bills.
  • Make lifestyle adjustments.


Understanding the difference between fixed and variable expenses is essential for anyone looking to manage their personal finances or run a business.

By budgeting for both types of expenses, you can have more control over your spending, avoid overspending, and save money for your financial goals.

Remember, budgeting is a continuous process, and it’s important to revisit your budget regularly to ensure that it’s still working for you. By making small adjustments along the way, you can stay on track and achieve your financial goals.

I hope this helps!

Signature Przemo

Przemo Bania is a blogger and writer who helps people get out of their traditional jobs to start a blogging career. Przemo also runs a health blog advocating for endometriosis and fibromyalgia…

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