Management Accounting | 51
Classification of Manufacturing Costs and Expenses
Management accounting, as previously explained, consists primarily of planning,
performance evaluation, and decision?making models useful to management in
making better decisions. In every case, these tools require cost and revenue infor?
mation. A basic assumption of management accounting is that it is the responsibility
of the management accountant to provide the needed cost and revenue information.
Consequently, the management accountant needs a complete understanding of the
different types of costs required by the various models. In Figure 4.1, the major costs
associated with each management accounting tool is listed.
In management accounting, as in financial accounting, it may be said that a major
building block in the conceptual foundation is cost. Both the financial and manage?
ment accountant must have a sound understanding of the varied and complex rami?
fications of cost. From a financial accounting viewpoint, a faulty understanding of
cost may cause financial statements to be incorrectly prepared. From a management
accounting viewpoint, an inadequate understanding or use of costs will result in poor
There are two broad aspect of the term cost that needs to be understood: cost
classification and cost behavior. Cost classification refers to the separation of costs
into categories for proper preparation of financial statements or for use in deci?
sion?making models. Cost behavior refers to the effect that volume (production or
sales ) has on total expenses or costs. In this chapter, both aspects will be discussed
in some depth.
52 | CHAPTER FOUR • Classification of Manufacturing Costs and Expenses
In accounting, the term cost refers to the expenditure or sacrifice made to acquire
something of value. In financial accounting, all transactions are recorded in terms
of historical cost; that is, the money expended or to be expended at the date of the
transaction. The monetary value associated with an asset acquired is said to be its
cost. Cost is the sacrifice made in resources to acquire another resource. Cost is
measured in monetary units which in the United States is the dollar. For example, a
machine is purchased by paying $4,000 in cash and trading in an old machine having
a sales value of $1,000. The cost of the new machine is $5,000 because resources
worth a total of $5,000 were given in the exchange. Stated differently, resources
worth $5,000 were sacrificed.
Cost Information Required
Fixed and variable costs
Fixed and variable costs
Fixed and variable costs
Planned data, fixed and variable costs
Fixed and variable costs
Escapable , opportunity, relevant
Indirect costs, direct costs
Purchasing cost, carrying cost
Present value models
Cash inflows, cash outflows
Depending on the type of activity and the passage of time, the cost of an asset in
accounting can be classified in several ways. Proper financial reporting and correct
decision?making require an understanding of the different ways in which costs can
be classified. In Figure 4.2 is a list of costs that pertain to both financial statement
preparation and decision?making analysis.
For purposes of management accounting, there are three important dual classifica?
tions of cost that require some understanding: Expired and unexpired, manufacturing
and non manufacturing, and fixed and variable. These three classifications are
somewhat interrelated, particularly concerning financial statements.
Expired and Unexpired Costs
Expired costs or expenses are the used up value of assets. Expired costs are
always shown on the income statement as deductions from revenue. Expired costs
may be thought of as that portion of the asset value benefitting current operations.
It is helpful to think of expired costs as former assets values. To illustrate, supplies
expense is an expired cost. The cost allocated to supplies expense, of course, is
the used portion of supplies, an asset. The relationship between asset values and
expired costs is further illustrated in Figure 4.3.
Management Accounting | 53
Financial Statements Cost Concepts Management Accounting Cost Concepts
(Decision?making Cost Concepts)
Direct and indirect
Relevant and irrelevant
Escapable and inescapable
Fixed and variable
Fixed and variable
Manufacturing and non manufacturing
Opportunity and sunk
Expired and unexpired
Direct and indirect
Fixed and variable expenses
Carrying cost, purchasing cost
The difference between a cost and an expense is frequently misunderstood.
Because the terms variable costs and variable expenses will be used later in this
chapter, and also throughout this book, the difference in meaning between a cost and
a expense will now be clarified.
Technically, there is a difference between a manufacturing cost and a manufac?
turing expense. The term manufacturing costs usually refers to material used, direct
labor incurred, and overhead incurred in a manufacturing business. Material used,
direct labor, and manufacturing overhead at the time incurred are not expenses; rather
they incurred costs. In the manufacturing process, material, labor, and overhead do
not expire; rather through manufacturing activity they become transformed from one
type of utility to another.
In a manufacturing business, the accountant will debit work in process for mate?
rials used, direct labor incurred, and manufacturing overhead. Since work in process
is an asset account, it would not be logical to regard material used, direct labor, and
manufacturing overhead as expenses. Expenses cannot be transformed back into
Asset Values and Related Expenses
Bad debts expense
Cost of goods sold
Manufacturing costs, however, do eventually become manufacturing expenses
Material used, direct labor incurred, and manufacturing overhead are first recorded
54 | CHAPTER FOUR • Classification of Manufacturing Costs and Expenses
in inventory accounts (work in process and finished goods) and then become an
expense when finished goods are sold. In a manufacturing business, only the cost
of goods sold account can properly be called a manufacturing expense. Prior to the
sale of finished goods, all manufacturing expenditures remain as unexpired costs.
In order to understand the transformation of manufacturing costs into manufacturing
expenses, you should fully understand the flow of cost as taught in cost accounting.
The flow of cost diagram is shown in Figure 4.4.
The term, variable cost, then primarily refers to the manufacturing costs that are
reflected in the inventory accounts: materials, work in process, and finished goods.
The term, variable expenses, refers to cost of goods sold and to other variable
non manufacturing expenses such as sales people’s commissions. As a student
of management accounting, you should understand, however, that the two terms,
variable expenses and variable costs, are sometimes used interchangeably. Some
writers use the term variable costs to include variable expenses. The technical differ?
ence is ignored because the theory underlying the use of variable expenses is the
same as for variable costs.
There is one instance in which manufacturing costs and manufacturing expenses
(cost of goods sold) are the same in amount. When sales equal production, that is, all
units manufactured are sold, then manufacturing costs (materials used, direct labor
incurred, and manufacturing overhead incurred) and the manufacturing expense (cost
of goods sold) are equal. Under these conditions, all manufacturing costs including
fixed manufacturing overhead incurred will be included in cost of goods sold.
In terms of financial statements, manufacturing costs appear on the cost of goods
manufactured statement while manufacturing expenses are shown on the income
statement. However, the amount of manufacturing costs are not necessarily reported
on the income statement in the period incurred. Some of the current period manufac?
turing cost may still reside in finished goods inventory until the inventory is sold.
Figure 4.4 • Flow of Manufacturing Cost
Work in Process
Cost of Goods Sold
Note: The flow lines denote journal entries at the end of the
accounting period to transfer cost.
Management Accounting | 55
Manufacturing and Non Manufacturing Costs
The distinction between manufacturing and non manufacturing costs is important
because this dual classification is reflected in different types of financial statements
for the manufacturing business: the income statement and the cost of goods manu?
factured statement. The cost of goods manufactured statement shows all the current
period manufacturing costs while the income statement shows all the current non
manufacturing expenses. In order to understand the direct relationship of the income
statement and the cost of goods manufactured statement, it is necessary to under?
stand the distinction between manufacturing and non manufacturing costs.
Manufacturing costs may be simply defined as materials used, direct labor
incurred, and manufacturing overhead incurred. These are the costs that are found
on the cost of goods manufactured statement. Non manufacturing costs (techni?
cally, expenses) are those expenses commonly called selling and administrative.
These are the expenditures incurred in the current period directly for the benefit of
generating revenue. Non manufacturing expenses should not be included in the cost
of inventory. The term is somewhat misleading because the “cost” part of the term
implies unexpired costs when it fact it has reference to expenses. Since “non manu?
facturing costs” are, in fact, expired costs (expenses), then technically a better term
would be “non manufacturing expenses.”
After some costs have been classified as manufacturing, they are normally further
classified as direct and indirect. Materials used in the manufacturing process are
either used directly or indirectly. Direct material is material that becomes part of the
finished product and, therefore, significantly adds to the weight or size of the product.
If the final product, for example, is a wooden chair, then the wood used to make the
legs, seat, and back is a direct use of material. Materials such as glue and screws,
usually not significant in amount, are often regarded as an indirect use. Also material
issued but not becoming a part of the final product and used for manufacturing objects
such as saw horses or shelves to store paint or other incidental materials would be
regarded as an indirect use of material.
In a similar manner, factory labor is normally classified as either direct or indirect.
Consequently, two types of labor are recognized: direct factory labor and indirect
factory labor. Direct factory labor is the cost of labor incurred while work is done on
the product itself. Normally, in one way or another, direct labor affects the physical
appearance of the product. Some factory workers do not actually work on the product
itself but provide services necessary to the over?all manufacturing process. Janitorial
services, repair and maintenance service, supervision of direct workers, and computer
support are examples of labor incurred that would be regarded as indirect.
The significance of classifying material and labor as an indirect cost is this: indirect
material and indirect factory labor are recorded as manufacturing overhead and,
therefore, becomes a part of the cost of the final product through the use of overhead
rates. The recording of direct and indirect manufacturing cost may be illustrated as
the following journal entry:
56 | CHAPTER FOUR • Classification of Manufacturing Costs and Expenses
Work in process (direct material)
Work in process (direct factory labor)
Manufacturing overhead (indirect material)
Manufacturing overhead (indirect labor)
Although the classification of costs as manufacturing and non manufacturing is
very important in preparing financial statements, this distinction is not essential from
a decision?making viewpoint. The important point is that the tools of management
accounting are equally important in both categories of cost. Important decisions in
both areas can benefit from the use of management accounting tools. Figure 4.5
shows examples of specific decisions in both classifications.
Fixed and Variable Cost
The most volatile variable in a business is considered to be volume. A funda?
mental fact of all businesses is that some costs change (increase or decrease) with
changes in volume (activity). The costs or expenses that change with volume are
called variable while those that do not change with changes in activity are called
fixed. The classification of costs as fixed and variable is by far the most useful and
helpful classification of costs in management accounting. Furthermore, the recogni?
tion of fixed and variable costs has resulted in several mathematical models useful in
analyzing cost data for decision?making purposes.
Some decisions such as a decrease in price or an increase in advertising can
have an immediate impact on volume. In most instances, management will want to
Relationship of Cost Classification and Decision-making
Classification of Costs
Example of Decisions
Suppliers, quality of material
Wage rate, number of hours
Cost of equipment, repairs and maintenance
Non Manufacturing Costs (expenses)
Sales People Compensation
Media, advertising budget
Salary, working hours
Management Accounting | 57
test decisions before execution. In management accounting, a number of planning,
evaluating, and decision?making models have been developed to account for the
effect that a change in volume has on total costs. The decision?making models in
this text that require fixed and variable costs inputs are: cost?volume?profit, direct
costing, flexible budgeting, variance analysis, and profit planning (budgeting). Other
tools such as incremental analysis and present value models may benefit from a
classification and measurement of costs as fixed and variable.
The detailed study of fixed and variable costs in management accounting is
commonly called the study of cost behavior. Since cost behavior, or the study of
fixed and variable costs, is so fundamental to many management accounting tools,
it represents the first area of management accounting that must be studied in depth.
The next chapter will be devoted to the study of cost behavior. The study of cost
behavior will be divided into two parts: (1) theory of cost behavior and (2) techniques
of measuring cost behavior.
Figures 4.6, and 4.7 present a type of income statement, cost of goods manufac?
tured statement, and balance sheet commonly used in manufacturing businesses.
Certain income statement and balance sheet items have been identified by number.
Fourteen items have been selected. To test your understanding of each cost selected,
categorize the selected costs as follows:
2. Non Manufacturing
5. Variable cost
6. Variable expense
7. Fixed cost
8. Fixed expense
Acme Manufacturing Company
Cost of Goods Manufactured Statement
Work in process
Total manufacturing costs
Work in process (ending)
Cost of goods manufactured (4)
58 | CHAPTER FOUR • Classification of Manufacturing Costs and Expenses
Acme Manufacturing Company
Acme Manufacturing Company
Cost of goods sold:
Finished goods (B)
Cost of goods manufactured
Work in process
Finished goods (E)
Plant and equipment (14)
Sales people commissions (6)
Total liabilities and
The importance of understanding the classification of cost can be best appre?
ciated by examining the financial statements of a manufacturing business. An
examination of the above statements shows that the classification of costs as expired
and unexpired, manufacturing and non manufacturing, and fixed and variable are
1. Manufacturing costs
? Items 1, 2, 3 ,4
2. Non manufacturing costs ? Items 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
3. Expired costs
? Items 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
4. Unexpired costs
? Items 11, 12, 13, 14
5. Variable costs
? Items 1, 2, 3 (only the variable portion)
6. Variable expenses
? Items 5, 6
7. Fixed costs
? Item 3 (only the fixed portion)
8. Fixed expenses
? Items 7, 8, 9, 10
Management Accounting | 59
The importance of understanding different kinds of cost in management
accounting can not be understated. Management accounting, as stated several times
before, consists of various decision?making tools. Each tool requires different kinds
of cost information. Without a good understanding of different kinds of cost and cost
behavior, it is highly unlikely any specific tool could be used in a meaningful way to
improve the quality of decisions.
The cost concepts that need to be understood in order to fully understand and be
able to use the various management accounting tools are the following:
1. Relevant and irrelevant
6. Fixed and variable
2. Direct and indirect
7. Manufacturing and non manufacturing
3. Prime costs
8. Expired and unexpired
4. Escapable and inescapable
9. Opportunity and sunk costs
5. Joint costs
10. Mixed and semi?variable
List the ways in which costs and expenses can be classified.
Explain the difference between:
a. Direct material and indirect material
b. Direct labor and indirect labor
c. Manufacturing and non manufacturing costs
d. Fixed and variable costs
e. Expired and unexpired costs
What are the two primary measures of volume or activity in a
Why is an understanding of cost behavior and cost classification
important in management accounting?
Explain how manufacturing costs become an expense.
Exercise 4.1 • Classification of Costs/Expenses
In the course of running the operations of a business, many different kinds of
transactions take place. In a manufacturing business, transactions are often classi?
fied as manufacturing or non manufacturing. In making decisions, it is important to
distinguish between manufacturing accounts and non manufacturing accounts. This
distinction is necessary in order to prepare the cost of goods manufactured statement
and the income statement.
A list of account items is given below. For each account item, indicate by a check
mark ( 4 ) the category in which the account item is normally classified. There are
60 | CHAPTER FOUR • Classification of Manufacturing Costs and Expenses
a few items in the list that do not fall into the manufacturing and non manufacturing
categories and should not be checked. Only one column for each item should be
Material X purchases
Freight?in ? material X
Factory labor, cutting
Sales people training
Sales people salaries
Home office expense
Material Y purchases
Sales people travel
Allowance for bad debts
Factory workers training