Financial Terms
Fixed Expenses

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Definition of Fixed Expenses

Fixed Expenses Image 1

Fixed Expenses

Cost of doing business which does not change with the volume of business. Examples might be rent for business premises, insurance payments, heat and light.

Related Terms:

fixed expenses (costs)

expenses or costs that remain the same in amount,
or fixed, over the short run and do not vary with changes in sales volume
or sales revenue or other measures of business activity. Over the
longer run, however, these costs increase or decrease as the business
grows or declines. fixed operating costs provide capacity to carry on
operations and make sales. fixed manufacturing overhead costs provide
production capacity. fixed expenses are a key pivot point for the analysis
of profit behavior, especially for determining the breakeven point and for
analyzing strategies to improve profit performance.

breakeven point

The annual sales volume level at which total contribution
margin equals total annual fixed expenses. The breakeven point is only a
point of reference, not the goal of a business, of course. It is computed by
dividing total fixed expenses by unit margin. The breakeven point is
quite useful in analyzing profit behavior and operating leverage. Also, it
gives manager a good point of reference for setting sales goals and
understanding the consequences of incurring fixed costs for a period.

operating leverage

A relatively small percent increase or decrease in
sales volume that causes a much larger percent increase or decrease in
profit because fixed expenses do not change with small changes in sales
volume. Sales volume changes have a lever effect on profit. This effect
should be called sales volume leverage, but in practice it is called operating
operating liabilities
The short-term liabilities generated by the operating
(profit-making) activities of a business. Most businesses have three types
of operating liabilities: accounts payable from inventory purchases and
from incurring expenses, accrued expenses payable for unpaid expenses,
and income tax payable. These short-term liabilities of a business are
non-interest-bearing, although if not paid on time a business may be
assessed a late-payment penalty that is in the nature of an interest

segment margin

the excess of revenues over direct variable expenses and avoidable fixed expenses for a particular segment

variable expenses

expenses that change with changes in either sales volume
or sales revenue, in contrast to fixed expenses that remain the same
over the short run and do not fluctuate in response to changes in sales
volume or sales revenue. See also revenue-driven expenses and unitdriven

Accrued expenses payable

expenses that have to be recorded in order for the financial statements to be accurate. Accrued expenses usually do not involve the receipt of an invoice from the company providing the goods or services.

accrued expenses payable

The account that records the short-term, noninterest-
bearing liabilities of a business that accumulate over time, such
as vacation pay owed to employees. This liability is different than
accounts payable, which is the liability account for bills that have been
received by a business from purchases on credit.

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Annual fund operating expenses

For investment companies, the management fee and "other expenses,"
including the expenses for maintaining shareholder records, providing shareholders with financial statements,
and providing custodial and accounting services. For 12b-1 funds, selling and marketing costs are included.


The costs incurred in buying, making or producing goods and services.


Costs involved in running the company.


Annuity contracts in which the insurance company or issuing financial institution pays a
fixed dollar amount of money per period.

Fixed asset

Long-lived property owned by a firm that is used by a firm in the production of its income.
Tangible fixed assets include real estate, plant, and equipment. Intangible fixed assets include patents,
trademarks, and customer recognition.

Fixed asset

An item with a longevity greater than one year, and which exceeds a company’s
minimum capitalization limit. It is not purchased with the intent of immediate
resale, but rather for productive use within a company.

Fixed asset turnover ratio

The ratio of sales to fixed assets.

Fixed assets

Things that the business owns and are part of the business infrastructure – fixed assets may be
tangible or intangible.

fixed assets

An informal term that refers to the variety of long-term operating
resources used by a business in its operations—including real
estate, machinery, equipment, tools, vehicles, office furniture, computers,
and so on. In balance sheets, these assets are typically labeled property,
plant, and equipment. The term fixed assets captures the idea that the
assets are relatively fixed in place and are not held for sale in the normal
course of business. The cost of fixed assets, except land, is depreciated,
which means the cost is allocated over the estimated useful lives of the

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Fixed Assets

Land, buildings, plant, equipment, and other assets acquired for carrying on the business of a company with a life exceeding one year. Normally expressed in financial accounts at cost, less accumulated depreciation.

Fixed Assets Turnover Ratio

A measure of the utilization of a company's fixed assets to
generate sales. It is calculated by dividing the sales for the period
by the book value of the net fixed assets.

Fixed-charge coverage ratio

A measure of a firm's ability to meet its fixed-charge obligations: the ratio of
(net earnings before taxes plus interest charges paid plus long-term lease payments) to (interest charges paid
plus long-term lease payments).

Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio

A measure of how well a company is able to meet its fixed
charges (interest and lease payments) based on the cash
generated by its operations. It is calculated by dividing the
earnings before interest and taxes by the total interest charges
and lease payments incurred by the firm.

Fixed cost

A cost that is fixed in total for a given period of time and for given production levels.

fixed cost

a cost that remains constant in total within a specified
range of activity

Fixed cost

A cost that does not vary in the short run, irrespective of changes in any
cost drivers. For example, the rent on a building will not change until the lease
runs out or is re-negotiated, irrespective of the level of business activity within
that building.

Fixed costs

Costs that do not change with increases or decreases in the volume of goods or services
produced, within the relevant range.

fixed costs

Costs that do not depend on the level of output.


In the Euromarket the standard periods for which Euros are traded (1 month out to a year out) are
referred to as the fixed dates.

Fixed-dollar obligations

Conventional bonds for which the coupon rate is set as a fixed percentage of the par value.

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Fixed-dollar security

A nonnegotiable debt security that can be redeemed at some fixed price or according to
some schedule of fixed values, e.g., bank deposits and government savings bonds.

Fixed-exchange rate

A country's decision to tie the value of its currency to another country's currency, gold
(or another commodity), or a basket of currencies.

Fixed Exchange Rate

An exchange rate held constant by a government promise to buy or sell dollars at the fixed rate on the foreign exchange market.

Fixed-income equivalent

Also called a busted convertible, a convertible security that is trading like a straight
security because the optioned common stock is trading low.

Fixed-income instruments

Assets that pay a fixed-dollar amount, such as bonds and preferred stock.

Fixed-income market

The market for trading bonds and preferred stock.

Fixed-income security

A security that pays a specified cash flow over a
specific period. Bonds are typical fixed-income securities.

Fixed Interest Rate

A rate that does not fluctuate with general market conditions.

Fixed-location storage

An inventory storage technique under which permanent
locations are assigned to at least some inventory items.

Fixed overhead

That portion of total overhead costs which remains constant in size
irrespective of changes in activity within a certain range.

fixed overhead spending variance

the difference between the total actual fixed overhead and budgeted fixed overhead;
it is computed as part of the four-variance overhead analysis

fixed overhead volume variance

see volume variance

Fixed price basis

An offering of securities at a fixed price.

Fixed-price tender offer

A one-time offer to purchase a stated number of shares at a stated fixed price,
usually a premium to the current market price.

Fixed-rate loan

A loan on which the rate paid by the borrower is fixed for the life of the loan.

Fixed Rate Loan

Loan for a fixed period of time with a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.

Fixed-rate payer

In an interest rate swap the counterparty who pays a fixed rate, usually in exchange for a
floating-rate payment.


What was spent to run the non-sales and non-manufacturing part of a company, such as office salaries and interest paid on loans.

Intangible fixed assets

Non-physical assets, e.g. customer goodwill or intellectual property (patents and trademarks).

Longer-Term Fixed Assets

Assets having a useful life greater than one year but the duration of the 'long term' will vary with the context in which the term is applied.


The total amount that was spent to run a company this year.

Operating Expenses

The amount of money the company must spend on overhead, distribution, taxes, underwriting the risk and servicing the policy. It is a factor in calculating premium rates.

Prepaid expenses

expenses that have been paid for but have not yet been used up; examples are prepaid insurance and prepaid rent.

revenue-driven expenses

Operating expenses that vary in proportion to
changes in total sales revenue (total dollars of sales). Examples are sales
commissions based on sales revenue, credit card discount expenses, and
rents and franchise fees based on sales revenue. These expenses are one
of the key variables in a profit model. Segregating these expenses from
other types of expenses that behave differently is essential for management
decision-making analysis. (These expenses are not disclosed separately
in externally reported income statements.)


What was spent to run the sales part of a company, such as sales salaries, travel, meals, and lodging for salespeople, and advertising.

Semi-fixed costs

Costs that are constant within a defined level of activity but that can increase or decrease when
activity reaches upper and lower levels.

Tangible fixed assets

Physical assets that can be seen and touched, e.g. buildings, machinery, vehicles, computers etc.

unit-driven expenses

expenses that vary in close proportion to changes
in total sales volume (total quantities of sales). Examples of these types of
expenses are delivery costs, packaging costs, and other costs that depend
mainly on the number of products sold or the number of customers
served. These expenses are one of the key factors in a profit model for
decision-making analysis. Segregating these expenses from other types
of expenses that behave differently is essential for management decisionmaking
analysis. The cost-of-goods-sold expense depends on sales volume
and is a unit-driven expense. But product cost (i.e., the cost of
goods sold) is such a dominant expense that it is treated separately from
other unit-driven operating expenses.


Those that vary with the amount of goods you produce or sell. These may include utility bills, labor, etc.

Capital Investments

Money used to purchase fixed assets for a business, such as land, buildings, or machinery. Also, money invested in a business on the understanding that it will be used to purchase permanent assets rather than to cover day-to-day operating expenses.

Cash flow from operations

A firm's net cash inflow resulting directly from its regular operations
(disregarding extraordinary items such as the sale of fixed assets or transaction costs associated with issuing
securities), calculated as the sum of net income plus non-cash expenses that were deducted in calculating net

contribution margin

An intermediate measure of profit equal to sales revenue
minus cost-of-goods-sold expense and minus variable operating
expenses—but before fixed operating expenses are deducted. Profit at
this point contributes toward covering fixed operating expenses and
toward interest and income tax expenses. The breakeven point is the
sales volume at which contribution margin just equals total fixed

Per Diem

A fixed rate paid to employees traveling on behalf of a business,
which substitutes for reimbursement of exact expenses incurred.

unit margin

The profit per unit sold of a product after deducting product
cost and variable expenses of selling the product from the sales price of
the product. Unit margin equals profit before fixed operating expenses
are considered and before interest and income tax are deducted. Unit
margin is one of the key variables in a profit model for decision-making







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