What is a flexible budget? Definition and example


https://1investing.in/ing is an important part of business finances as well as personal finances. While the general concept of budgeting may be the same, it can be used for many different purposes. Because of this, there are several different types of budgeting systems that can be used. Once you identify fixed and variable costs, separate them on your budget sheet. Accountants enter actual activity measures into the flexible budget at the end of the accounting period. It subsequently generates a budget that ties in specifically with the inputs.

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Suddenly, there is only one company to meet demand for widgets, resulting in actual sales of 200 units per month. The actual revenue the widget company is taking in has doubled—but the production costs would also go up. The flexible budget for the quarter would reflect both these things. A flexible budget is a budget that changes based on your actual production or revenue.

Step Cost Development is Time-Consuming

Businesses are finding that to be true when it comes to budgeting. All the forward-looking planning in the world can go right into left field in the face of, say, a global pandemic. Businesses of all sizes are realizing they need to be nimbler and more flexible in their planning, hence the increased adoption of rolling forecasts. A factory is currently working at 50% capacity and produces 10,000 units. Estimate the profits of the company when the factory works at 60% and 80% capacity, and offer your critical comments.

That’s because flexible budgets require continual upkeep and maintenance — you’re constantly having to keep an eye out for fluctuations and then execute those changes as quickly as you can. While this isn’t a reason to avoid flexible budgeting altogether, it’s good to keep in mind as you consider how and when to implement this kind of budgeting strategy. While creating and maintaining real-time adjustments can be somewhat time-consuming, there’s tangible value in terms of more efficient budget allocations and more agile decision-making. After each month closes, a flexible budget assumes you’ll compare projected revenue to actual results and adjust the next month’s expenses accordingly. Which is why companies have moved away from traditional static budgeting to more flexible budgeting strategies.

The static budget is different from the flexible budget as it is a budget which stays fixed. It does not consider the possible fluctuations or changes in the costs. The amounts listed on this budget do not change, despite any other changes taking place.

Budgeting Efficiency

Generally, the term variance refers to any kind of difference existing between two components. By that he means a one-page budget overview that illustrates just about everything that’s going to happen in the organization. “From there, you can drill down and get o multiple layers of complexity,” he said. Michael McFall, co-founder and co-CEO of Biggby Coffee and author of Grind, a new guide for entrepreneurs looking to build self-sustaining businesses, sees potential for too much wiggle room.


This is due to the fact the production mix shifts from the less water intensive product Y to the higher water intensive product X. In contrast, intensity measures fail to adjust for the fixed and variable components of sustainability aspects and do not provide an accurate indication of the actual change in efficiency. When production volumes change, fixed components of sustainability aspects cause intensity measures to change even when there is no change in aspect efficiency. When production volume changes, financial managers must recognize the dichotomy of fixed and variable costs. As activity increases, the total variable costs increase, but fixed costs remain constant resulting in lower average cost per unit.

Budget with Varying Levels of Production

\nFor Skate, an analysis indicates that indirect materials, indirect labor, and utilities are variable costs. To compute variances that can help you understand why actual results differed from your expectations, creating a flexible budget is helpful. A flexible budget adjusts the master budget for your actual sales or production volume.

  • Flexible budgets do not fix variances, they help to better plan for the future.
  • Actual expenses are lower because the income before income taxes was lower.
  • Management carefully compares the budgeted numbers with the actual performance statistics to see where the company improved and where the company needs more improvement.
  • Each unit will bring in a net profit of $50, so the net profit per month will be 100 X 50, or $5,000.

An alternative is to run a high-level flex budget as a pilot test to see how useful the concept is, and then expand the model as necessary. This is because the fixed expenses don’t change irrespective of the activity level and the semi-variable expenses do change but not in proportion to the activity level. Only the purely variable expenses vary proportionately with the activity level. Flexible budgets are usually produced monthly or quarterly, rather than in advance like static budgets.

To compute the value of the flexible budget, multiply the variable cost per unit by the actual production volume. Here, the figure indicates that the variable costs of producing 125,000 should total $162,500 (125,000 units x $1.30). \nTo compute the value of the flexible budget, multiply the variable cost per unit by the actual production volume.

Flexible budgets are prepared at each analysis period , rather than in advance, since the idea is to compare the operating income to the expenses deemed appropriate at the actual production level. A flexible budget is a budget that is created using a specific cost or formula. Unlike a static budget, a flexible budget includes both fixed and variable costs that can be adjusted based on revenue percentage or production cost incurred throughout the course of the budget period. The type of budget shows the business what the static budget should have been by using the actual numbers from the budget period.

  • Instead of using a dollar amount, they can allocate 10% of the company’s revenue.
  • These budgets are different in different levels of activities, which facilitate the ascertainment of fixation of cost, selling prices, and tendering of quotations.
  • Variable costs can include marketing and sales, and may also include the cost of materials, number of sales, and shipping costs.

In its simplest form, the flex budget uses percentages of revenue for certain expenses, rather than the usual fixed numbers. This allows for an infinite series of changes in budgeted expenses that are directly tied to actual revenue incurred. However, this approach ignores changes to other costs that do not change in accordance with small revenue variations. Consequently, a more sophisticated format will also incorporate changes to many additional expenses when certain larger revenue changes occur, thereby accounting for step costs.

Why Would a Company Find a Flexible Budget Variance More Informative?

Choosing the wrong pieces of the amortization definition to tie together can lead to significant inaccuracies in forecasts. Due to its flexibility and response to marketplace and company changes, flexible budgeting requires ample attention. The disadvantages of flexible budgeting include its time-consuming nature, lack of accuracy, and delays in processing. And because flexible budgets expand and contract in real time, they allow businesses to exist as the organic, growing entities that they are. Variance Analysis Variance analysis is a method for companies to compare its actual performance vs its budgeted amount for that cost measurement .


Whether switching to a flexible budgeting process from a static model or starting from scratch, there are keys to success. A flexible budget is much more realistic than fixed budget since it gives emphasis on cost behavior at different levels of activity. For example, your flexible budget may have three columns that show the number of units sold, the sales price, and total revenue. Fixed expenses such as rent, utilities, equipment costs, and salaries usually make up a significant portion of any business budget. While it’s possible that these costs will change slightly, most businesses simply budget for them upfront. Operations managers that have limited or unplanned resources may not be physically able to adjust for revised activity levels or production.

Typically, static budgets considered a fixed cost and set targets to achieve those results within the available resources. Management may decide to increase or decrease production levels depending on sales targets and a variety of other factors. At that point, the static budget acts as a starting point for the flexible budgeting approach.

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For instance, if the budget covered the production of 1,000 units, but only made 600 units, then the flexible budget adjusts to account for only the 600 actual units. The flexible budget shows the budgeted items from the static budget, including the cost and the expected sales, compared to the actual results. With flexible budgets, it’s easy to make updates to revenue and activity figures that haven’t been finalized.