Actual costs

In accounting, the term actual costs refers to the costs actually incurred in a previous accounting period

Definition / explanation

Actual costs are determined by multiplying the actual quantity by the actual price. In this way, the actual costs that have been incurred within a certain period can be determined. The quantities consumed are assessed with their respective procurement prices. Corrections are not taken into account.

Actual cost calculation formula

Use cases of actual costs

Im Zuge einer Post calculation werden die Istkosten der einzelnen Payers ermittelt. Das ermöglicht die Preiskontrolle einzelner Produkte. Istkosten werden den Target costs gegenübergestellt, um Abweichungen zu identifizieren und eine Analyse der Ursachen zu ermöglichen.

They are largely congruent with the accounting in external accounting. With the exception imputed costs they can be obtained from financial accounting at the same cost. Actual costs can also be used for cost comparisons within a company or in comparison to others in the course of a benchmark.

Disadvantages of actual costs

Actual costs can only be calculated at the end of a billing period. In some cases, for the sake of simplicity, average values derived from the past are used. In the case of downstream costs, this is essential for a timely full cost analysis. Actual costs always relate to the past and fully reflect one-off special effects.

Due to these random fluctuations, actual costs are not in themselves suitable as a basis for planning and decision-making. For period comparisons, therefore, refer to Normal costs are used, which are adjusted for extreme values.


  • Actual costs are costs actually incurred
  • are compared with target costs
  • are the basis for cost comparisons
  • have a reference to the past
  • Not suitable as a basis for planning and decision-making due to random fluctuations
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