Solved Using the High-Low Method to Estimate Variable and Fixed Costs


high low accounting method

It considers the total dollars of the mixed costs at the highest volume of activity and the total dollars of the mixed costs at the lowest volume of activity. The total amount of fixed costs is assumed to be the same at both points of activity. The change in the total costs is thus the variable cost rate times the change in the number of units of activity.

The high-low method presupposes constant fixed and unit variable expenses, which is not the case in real life. Variations in costs are not included in the estimate because it only employs two data values in its calculation. To determine the fixed and variable costs, we must first compute the variable cost per unit using the aforementioned formula. In this case, x2 is 3000 and y2 is $59,000, while x1 is 1250 and y1 is $38,000. The average activity level and the average cost for the periods in the database are then computed.

Their role is to collect, observe, and record numbers; advise on the company’s investments and manage them; budgeting, planning, risk management, and decision-making. The results of high-low modelling are only valid for as long as the data underpinning them is valid. This means that businesses will need to repeat the high-low modelling exercise periodically to refresh the figures. How much this matters depends on the extent of the variation between the pricing levels.

Example of How to Use the High-Low Method

A manager that chooses to apply this method must have a full awareness of these limitations. For example, the table below depicts the activity for a cake bakery for each of the 12 months of a given year. Calculate the expected factory overhead cost in April using the High-Low method.

It can be argued that activity-cost pairs (i.e. activity level and the corresponding total cost) which are not representative of the set of data should be excluded before using high-low method. Such a cost function may be used in budgeting to estimate the total cost at any given level of activity, assuming that past performance can reasonably be projected into future. High-low method accounting is used to calculate costs at the maximum (high) and minimum (low) levels of production. This makes it possible to calculate (or at least estimate), the break-even point.

What are the Benefits of Factoring Your Account Receivable?

Once you have that information, then you will be able to apply them to the formula. 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 high-low method involves three main steps to calculate the cost for any level of production.

high low accounting method

The high-low method is generally not favored because it can result in an erroneous comprehension of the data if the variable or fixed cost rates vary over time or if a tiered pricing system is used. In most real-world scenarios, additional information should be available to determine variable and fixed costs directly. As a result, the high-low method should be utilized only when actual billing data cannot be obtained. Because it only considers two extreme activity levels, the high-low method is relatively unreliable.

High Low Method Accounting FAQs

If it’s fairly low, then it might be pragmatic just to accept it as the impact should be minor. If it’s higher, then it could make sense to apply the high-low calculation to each tier as well as to the overall maximum and minimum points. It’s also possible to draw incorrect conclusions by assuming that just because two sets of data correlate with each other, one must cause changes in the other. Regression analysis is also best performed using a spreadsheet program or statistics program. It is also possible to reach false conclusions by believing that because two sets of data correlate, one must cause changes in the other.

  • If it’s higher, then it could make sense to apply the high-low calculation to each tier as well as to the overall maximum and minimum points.
  • Regression analysis helps forecast costs as well, by comparing the influence of one predictive variable upon another value or criteria.
  • The total amount of fixed costs is assumed to be the same at both points of activity.
  • It turned out that the variable costs per unit were different too, so it wasn’t that either.

It uses this comparison to estimate the fixed cost, variable cost, and a cost function for finding the total cost of different production units. It involves taking the highest level of activity and the lowest level of activity and comparing the total costs at each level. If the variable cost is a fixed charge per unit and fixed costs remain the same, it is possible to work out the fixed and variable costs by solving the equations. It is critical to understand the high-low method since it is commonly employed in the formulation of corporate budgets.

High-low point method

While it is easy to apply, it can distort costs and yield more or less accurate results because of its reliance on two extreme values from one data set. 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. Due to these defects, this method is considered less accurate than the least squares regression method which takes into account all data points and provides much more accurate results. It is mainly useful to have a quick estimation of the cost model, or the cost structure, of a product. This can be used to calculate the total cost of various units for the bakery.

high low accounting method

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High-Low Method in Cost Accounting

This is standard practice with costs that relate to contracts for goods or services. Using the High-Low technique has allowed us to prove that the original costs were actually semi-variable rather than just deduce that conclusion. 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.

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The accountant at an events management company is preparing a payroll budget based on costs from the past year. Highest activity level is 21,000 hours in Q4.Lowest activity level is 15,000 hours in Q1. Let us look at an example to better understand the high low method accounting calculation. Cost accounting is used for several purposes, such as standard costing, activity-based costing, lean accounting, and marginal costing. Management accounting refers to identifying, analyzing, and communicating financial information to a firm’s managers to achieve the company’s future goals.

The scatter graph method, which is more accurate than the high-low method, is used to separate blended costs. The fixed and variable cost components can be identified from specific locations on the graph by charting the necessary data. The high-low method is an accounting technique used to separate out fixed and variable costs in a limited set of data. The variable cost per unit is equal to the slope of the cost volume line (i.e. change in total cost ÷ change in number of units produced). Although the high-low method is designed to be used to calculate costs at maximum and minimum output, the formula can be used for any level of output. It can be useful to apply the formula to different levels of production if any of your variable costs increase in a non-linear way.

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By only requiring two data values and some algebra, cost accountants can quickly and easily determine information about cost behavior. Also, the high-low method does not use or require any complex tools reducing employees’ hours during covid or programs. Because of the ease with which the high-low method can be used to get insight into the cost-activity relationship, it does not take into account minor aspects such as cost variance.

High-low method is used in accounting to separate fixed and variable cost elements from historical cost, which is a mixture of both fixed and variable costs. The high-low method separates mixed costs to fixed costs and variable costs. It enables identifying the cost structure of a given product, which enables estimating the cost of production given a level of output.

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