Skip main navigation

Total materials variance

Watch this video to learn how to work out the total materials variance through an example.

Let’s start by having a look at the direct material standard costs that we’re going to use for our example.

Budget data

Direct materials: 1 metre @ £5 per metre £5.00
Budgeted production 1,000 units

Actual results

Actual production 1,200 units
Actual direct material purchased and used 1,320
Actual cost per metre £4.70 per metre
1,320 metres × £4.70 per metre £6,204

The original budget anticipated that each unit would use 1 metre of material to make, so the budgeted direct material cost was:

  • 1,000 units × £5 per metre = £5,000

But look at the actual figures – quite a bit has changed compared with the budget!

  • Production was more than budgeted – 1,200 units rather than 1,000 units.
  • More material was bought and used – 1,320 metres rather than 1,000 metres.
  • But the cost per metre was lower than budgeted – £4.70 per metre rather than £5.00 per metre.

Because so much has changed, it could be difficult to work out whether performance is better or worse than anticipated. This is where variance calculations ride to the rescue!

First we need to calculate the flexed budgeted figure using the originally budgeted cost price:

  • budgeted materials cost × actual production = flexed total costs budget
  • £5 per metre × 1,200 units = £6,000

Next we need to calculate the actual direct materials cost:

  • actual materials cost × actual production = actual performance
  • £4.70 per metre × 1,200 units = £6,204

Now that we have those two figures, we can sum them to see how they compare and get our total materials variance:

  • £6,000 − £6,204 = £204 A

That’s an adverse total materials variance of £204 because the actual cost was higher than the flexed budget.

This article is from the free online

Budget Forecasting, Costing, and Variances

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now