Rent Expense: Definition, How It Works, and Types of Cost

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  • The  $10 direct materials would be a debit to cost of goods sold (increasing) and a credit to inventory (decreasing).
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  • Another difference between product costs and period costs is their relationship to production.
  • Most of the components of a manufactured item will be raw materials that, when received, are recorded as inventory on the balance sheet.

Period costs are sometimes broken out into additional subcategories for selling activities and administrative activities. 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. digital contract signing Selling costs can vary somewhat with product sales levels, especially if sales commissions are a large part of this expenditure. A period cost is any cost consumed during a reporting period that has not been capitalized into inventory, fixed assets, or prepaid expenses.


In short, any costs incurred in the process of acquiring or manufacturing a product are considered product costs. According to the Census Survey of Market Absorption of New Multifamily Units (SOMA), the first quarter of 2023 saw the completion of 82,310 apartments in buildings featuring five or more units. Remarkably, within the initial three months following completion, 61% of these newly finished apartments were rented, indicating a strong demand. Notably, units with asking rents below $1,250 exhibited the highest absorption rates during this period, highlighting a pronounced demand for affordable rental options. Under the cash basis of accounting, the amount of rent expense reported in a period is the amount of cash paid during that period. One of the main differences between product and period costs is the timing of when they are incurred.

We need to first revisit the concept of the matching principle from financial accounting. For example, raw materials and labor are variable period costs because they fluctuate depending on how many products are manufactured during a given period. When recording period costs, it is important to ensure that costs are recorded on the appropriate balance sheet account, in order to provide an accurate representation of the business’s expenses. Additionally, period costs should be tracked and monitored regularly to ensure that they are in line with a company’s budget or financial plan.

Is Labor a Period Cost or Product Cost?

When you sell one widget, these two costs show up as expenses on your income statement with a corresponding debit to inventory for each widget sold. This allows you to see at any point in time how much inventory you have on hand based on your sales figures for that product. Generally, period costs are expensed in the period they are incurred and are not carried over to future accounting periods. Overhead or sales, general, and administrative (SG&A) costs are considered period costs.

For companies, location is everything, especially for real estate and retail companies. It’s important to be located in a place with a lot of foot traffic and access to the company’s target consumer base. Companies often allocate a large part of their rental expense towards prime locations. For such companies, it’s crucial to weigh the cost of the rent against the benefits and potential boost in revenue that comes from being in a prime location.

Related Expense

Depending on the type of business, rent expense can be a material portion of operating expenses or a negligible one. For retail businesses that do not own their own property, rent expense is one of the main operating expenses along with employee wages and marketing and advertising costs. Across the board, companies are supposed to have a consistent rent expense documented every month. The major problem with this regulation is that monthly rent payments aren’t always consistent. In many cases, because of inflation, for example, monthly rent expense increases over time.

September 2023 Rental Report: Rent Prices Fall for Fifth Consecutive Month Amid Strong Demand for Affordable Units

When the product is manufactured and then sold a corresponding amount from the inventory account will be moved to the income statement. 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). Manufacturing companies typically spend low amounts in rent expense as a percentage of total expenses. Rent expenses for manufacturing operations are included in factory overhead, while rent not tied to production—i.e., administrative office space rent—is charged to operating expenses.

Examples of Product Costs and Period Costs

From there, you can make decisions that will make your business more profitable. “Period costs” or “period expenses” are costs charged to the expense account and are not linked to production or inventory. On the other hand, if a cost is linked to a product, inventory, production, or goods and may be incurred over several accounting periods, you may be looking at a product cost. Since product costs are linked to a product, a company can report such costs in the category of cost of goods sold on the income statement. Product and period costs are incurred in the production and selling of a product.

Better management of period costs assists the business in identifying expenses and areas of expenses where the same or better services and results might be obtained with less expenditure to the organization. The management of period costs assists the corporation in better planning and enables the organization to use the greater earnings in expanding the business, allowing the entity to earn more profit. Weighted-average costing combines current-period expenses with prior-period costs in the beginning inventory. Managers are unable to determine the current period expense of manufacturing the product as a result of this combination. This issue is addressed by first-in, first-out (FIFO) costing, which assumes that the first units worked on are the first units moved out of a production department.

For instance, if period costs are expensed before revenue is recognized, the result will be higher expenses for the period. As a result, net income for the period will be reduced due to the higher expenses. Conversely, if period costs are not expensed until after revenue is recognized, the result will be lower expenses for the period, resulting in higher net income for the period.

Also, interest expense on a company’s debt would be classified as a period cost. 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 deviation can be noted, steps should be taken to identify the cause and address it accordingly. It is important to recognize that period costs are expensed as they occur, unlike capital expenditures which are recognized over time as amortization or depreciation. This means that period costs are almost always recorded immediately to the income statement as opposed to being recorded over time to the balance sheet.

This comprises wages, benefits, and payroll taxes for employees who work directly on the production line or in supporting areas such as maintenance or quality control. Make a note of how much money you spend on period costs and expense them during the period in which the costs are incurred. Receipts, employee pay stubs, invoices, and other papers that show how much money you pay out for various period costs may be kept. FIFO distinguishes between current-period expenses and those in beginning inventory. The costs in the initial inventory are moved out in a lump sum under FIFO costing.