What is the difference between product costs and period costs?

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Administrative activities are the most pure form of period costs, since they must be incurred on an ongoing basis, irrespective of the sales level of a business. Selling costs can vary somewhat with product sales levels, especially if sales commissions are a large part of this expenditure. When creating your budget each year, you might cut costs by reevaluating your period expenses. For example, if you alter insurance premiums or even switch to a firm with lower premiums, the price difference must be reported. Reassessing your period costs may assist you in identifying areas where you can save money.

Cost accounting can be much more flexible and specific, particularly when it comes to the subdivision of costs and inventory valuation. Cost-accounting methods and techniques will vary from firm to firm and can become quite complex. Product costs are the costs incurred by a business that is directly tied to the manufacturing of goods. These costs may include the cost of raw materials used in production, wages of workers who operate in producing goods, or the cost of utilities consumed by manufacturing facilities. Knowing how much money a business spends on periods of expenses helps its owners and managers understand where their cash flows from operations come from and where they go when operations end up with cash deficits. Accurately calculating product costs also assists with more in-depth analysis, such as per-unit cost.

Examples of Product Costs and Period Costs

So if you sell a widget for $20 that had $10 worth of raw materials, you would record the sale as a credit (increasing) to sales and a debit (increasing) either cash or accounts receivable. The  $10 direct materials would be a debit to cost of goods sold (increasing) and a credit to inventory (decreasing). By analogy, a manufacturer pours money into direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead. This collection of costs constitutes an asset on the balance sheet (“inventory”). This inventory remains as an asset until the goods are sold, at which point the inventory is gone, and the cost of the inventory is transferred to cost of goods sold on the income statement.

  • Now let’s look at a hypothetical example of costs incurred by a company and see if such costs are period costs or product costs.
  • It is better to relate period costs to presently incurred expenditures that relate to SG&A activities.
  • Thus, most companies would consider it a period cost and account for it on the income statement directly.
  • Your income statement will also include your cost of products sold, taxes, and total revenue for the fiscal period.

Closing a period may take days, weeks, or even months into the next accounting period, and two periods can run simultaneously as the previous period is closed out. An entity may also elect to report financial data through the use of a fiscal year. A fiscal year arbitrarily sets the beginning of the accounting period to any date, and financial data is accumulated for one year from this date. For example, a fiscal year starting April 1 would end on March 31 of the following year. The federal government has a fiscal year that runs from October 1 to September 30, while many nonprofits have a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30.

The main characteristic of these costs is that they are incurred over a period of time (during the accounting period). On the other hand, a company that does not produce goods or does not carry inventory of any kind will not have any product costs to report on its financial statements. To quickly identify if a cost is a period cost or product cost, ask the question, “Is the cost directly or indirectly related to the production of products? In theory, an entity hopes to experience consistency in growth across accounting periods to display stability and an outlook of long-term profitability. The method of accounting that supports this theory is the accrual method of accounting.

Once the inventory is sold or otherwise disposed of, it is charged to the cost of goods sold on the income statement. A period cost is charged to expense on the income statement as soon as it is incurred. If you manufacture a product, these costs would include direct materials and labor along with manufacturing overhead. Most of the components of a manufactured item will be raw materials that, when received, are recorded as inventory on the balance sheet. Only when they are used to produce and sell goods are they moved to cost of goods sold, which is located on the income statement. When the product is manufactured and then sold a corresponding amount from the inventory account will be moved to the income statement.

A period cost is any cost consumed during a reporting period that has not been capitalized into inventory, fixed assets, or prepaid expenses. However, because product costs such as office expenses, administration expenses, marketing expenses, rent, and so on cannot be connected to the cost of goods sold, they are charged to the expense account. Therefore, the cost of inventories (Cost of Goods Sold, or COGS) is the same as product costs. Since inventories are recorded as assets for the manufacturers, product costs are recorded on the balance sheet in the assets section under inventories. Any manufacturer’s expense can be either categorized as a product cost or a period cost based on whether it can be directly linked to the production process of inventories or not.

As shown in the income statement above, salaries and benefits, rent and overhead, depreciation and amortization, and interest are all period costs that are expensed in the period incurred. On the other hand, costs of goods sold related to product costs are expensed on the income statement when the inventory is sold. Period costs are essentially charges that could be applied to the company’s income statement for the period in which such expenses were incurred. These expenses are not directly tied to inventory production and so do not constitute part of the cost of goods sold and are charged in the company’s income statement. Because these costs do not relate to the manufacturing of inventory, they can never be capitalized and must always be included in the company’s income statement. Selling costs, overhead costs, advertising costs, and so on are examples of these costs.

Understanding Period Costs

Depending on the company, product managers may or may not determine the pricing strategy for the product. When using lean accounting, traditional costing methods are replaced by value-based pricing and lean-focused performance measurements. Financial decision-making is based on the impact on the company’s total value stream profitability. Value streams are the profit centers of a company, which is any branch or division that directly adds to its bottom-line profitability. A soft drink manufacturer might spend very little on producing the product, but a lot on selling.

#2. Inventory Valuation Using Period Expense

For example, if an accounting department is able to cut down on wasted time, employees can focus that saved time more productively on value-added tasks. If the variance analysis determines that actual costs are higher than expected, the variance is unfavorable. If capital structure theory it determines the actual costs are lower than expected, the variance is favorable. Cost-accounting methods are typically not useful for figuring out tax liabilities, which means that cost accounting cannot provide a complete analysis of a company’s true costs.

What Are Some Advantages of Cost Accounting?

Period costs are not assigned to one particular product or the cost of inventory like product costs. Therefore, period costs are listed as an expense in the accounting period in which they occurred. In other words, period costs are expenses that are not linked to the production process of a company but rather are expenses incurred over time. Cost accounting is an informal set of flexible tools that a company’s managers can use to estimate how well the business is running. Cost accounting looks to assess the different costs of a business and how they impact operations, costs, efficiency, and profits.

Accounting periods are useful to analysts and potential shareholders because it allows them to identify trends in a single company’s performance over a period of time. They can also use accounting periods to compare the performance of two or more companies during the same period of time. There are types of period costs that may not be included in the financial statements but are still monitored by the management. Regardless, all period costs, whether fixed or semi-variable, are considered expenses and will be reported on your income statement. Period costs are the costs that your business incurs that are not directly related to production levels.

Our work has been directly cited by organizations including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Investopedia, Forbes, CNBC, and many others. We follow strict ethical journalism practices, which includes presenting unbiased information and citing reliable, attributed resources. In these cases, a more feasible alternative is to try and reduce the amount paid in earlier years. What remains is the total amount of expected expenditures during the period. You’ll also be able to spot trouble spots or overspending in administrative areas or if overhead has ballooned in recent months.

Sometimes they’re right, but when they’re wrong, the consequences could be disastrous. Time is money in this scenario, so you’ll want to consider how long you expect the development process to take and keep track of the actual timeline of events. You may be envisioning a SaaS product with several features and components. It can be costly to fully build out this level of complex software and maintain it. You operate in a small building where 40% of the area is used as offices and 60% as a production facility. 70% of your offices are for administrative employees, and 30% are for production supervisors.

Example of Period Costs

There are two main accounting rules that govern the use of accounting periods, the revenue recognition principle and the matching principle. With a solid financial plan in place, you can identify which components are driving up your product costs and adjust accordingly. You may need to buy state-of-the-art equipment for your developers and other team members. Product cost refers to the total expenses incurred during the development, production, and maintenance of a software product or technology solution. It encompasses a wide range of costs, including research, design, development, testing, deployment, and ongoing support and maintenance.