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Budget Forecasting, Costing, and Variances

Delve into the budgeting process and the different tasks involved to help find the budgeting approach that works for you.

A small group of people working around a large table, with a laptop, calculator and printed sheets showing charts and data spread around the table.
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Understand the need for a flexible budget

To develop financial expectations for the future, there are many processes within a budget to help you manage both long-term and short-term financial goals.

On this three-week course, you’ll explore the tools to help you master budgeting tasks such as costing, forecasting, and variances.

Through real-life examples and interactive quizzes, you’ll learn how to calculate costs, cover fixed and flexible budgets, and find the budgeting approach that is best suited for your context.

Delve into budget forecasting

You’ll gain an introduction into forecasting to help you understand how to use it in your budgets.

Exploring time series analysis, moving averages, and variation, you’ll learn practical techniques to help you use budget forecasting to achieve your financial aims.

Unpack the different types of variances

On the final week of the course, you’ll unpack variances to understand how to account for the difference between budgeted and actual income and expenditure.

You’ll explore different types of variances and the reasons you could encounter them, such as materials and labour shortages.

Learn from the experts at Kaplan

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by the experts at Kaplan. With their help, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to successfully carry out costing, forecasting, and variance tasks in your budgeting.


  • Week 1

    Calculating costs and flexible budgets

    • Welcome

      A welcome to Course 2 of the A Practical Guide to Budgeting ExpertTrack.

    • Breaking down the costs for a budget

      This activity looks at how to calculate fixed and variable elements of semi-variable costs and of stepped fixed costs.

    • Fixed, flexed and flexible budgets

      This activity looks at how fixed, flexed and flexible budgets can help managers exercise control.

  • Week 2


    • Welcome

      A welcome to Week 2 of the A Practical Guide to Budgeting ExpertTrack.

    • Time series analysis and moving averages

      Calculate forecasts using a variety of methods Understand the limitations of forecasting methods

    • Linear regression

      Calculate forecasts using a variety of methods Understand the limitations of forecasting methods

    • Indexes

      Calculate forecasts using a variety of methods Understand the limitations of forecasting methods

    • Expected values

      Calculate forecasts using a variety of methods Understand the limitations of forecasting methods

  • Week 3


    • Welcome

      An introduction to using variance analysis in budgeting

    • Materials variances

      An introduction to materials variances

    • Labour variances

      Explain each of the required sections in the activity (to include any links to specific existing content to be repurposed):

    • Sales variances

      Understand possible causes of variances Be able to calculate variances

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Calculate fixed and variable costs
  • Identify the differences between fixed, flexible and flexed budgets
  • Calculate forecasts using a variety of methods
  • Calculate variances using appropriate methods
  • Identify the difference between adverse and favourable variances

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about the budgeting process and how to start preparing a budget.

You could be a new business owner, working in financial planning, or studying finance and looking to develop key budgeting skills.

Who developed the course?


Kaplan UK is a leading international provider of educational and career services. Building on a rich heritage of more than 50 years of training accountants and financial professionals, Kaplan UK serves more than 48,000 students a year, both based in the UK and from overseas, who train for AAT, CIMA, ACCA and ICAEW qualifications.

  • Established

  • Location

    London, UK

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: