It is important to understand through the accrual method of accounting, that expenses and income should be recognized when incurred, not necessarily when they are paid or cash received. Direct materials, direct labor, and the cost of factory overhead are a few examples of product costs. Period cost examples include general and administrative expenses such as rent, office depreciation, office supplies, and utilities. Because of the different nature of product and period costs, they receive different accounting treatments. Product costs form part of inventory and the balance sheet, making them inventoriable cost. They only affect the income statement when inventory is sold, and the cost of inventory becomes COGS.

Classification of cost into periods and products is generally for financial accounting purposes. A proper determination of revenues and expenses must be based on a well-defined distinction between Period cost and Product cost. Period costs or period expenses are also very elaborative by just looking at the name. The name gives a clear idea that these costs are related to an entire period or financial year. Period costs are also an essential part of the cost and managerial accounting in any business entity. The product costs measured and recorded in the company’s records are also used to prepare the financial statements.


Period costs describe a business’s additional costs incurred during a specific reporting period. While they still form part of the overall cost of running a business, they aren’t directly related to manufacturing a specific good or service. It is better to relate period costs to presently incurred expenditures that relate to SG&A activities. These costs do not logically attach to inventory and should be expensed in the period incurred. Under one school of thought, period costs are any costs that are not product costs.

As a general rule, costs are recognized as expenses on the income statement in the period that the benefit was derived from the cost. So if you pay for two years of liability insurance, it wouldn’t be good to claim all of that expense in the period the bill was paid. Since the expense covers a two year period, it should be recognized over both years. Due to its support for continuous business operations and lack of a clear connection to creating goods produced, overhead is considered a period cost. Additionally, the calculation of fixed and variable expenses may vary depending on the stage of a business’s life cycle or accounting year.

This collection of costs constitutes an asset on the balance sheet (“inventory”). This inventory remains as an asset until the goods are sold, at which point the inventory is gone, and the cost of the inventory is transferred to cost of goods sold on the income statement. As shown in the income statement above, salaries and benefits, rent and overhead, depreciation and amortization, and interest are all period costs that are expensed in the period incurred. On the other hand, costs of goods sold related to product costs are expensed on the income statement when the inventory is sold. Both product costs and period costs directly affect your balance sheet and income statement, but they are handled in different ways.

Product Costs vs Period Costs: Difference Between Product Costs and Period Costs

Most period costs are considered periodic fixed expenses, although in some instances, they can be semi-variable expenses. For example, you receive a utility bill each month that is not directly tied to production levels, but the amount can vary from month to month, making it a semi-variable expense. On the other hand, period costs are considered indirect costs or overhead costs, and while they play an important role in your business, they are not directly tied to production levels.

Comparing Product Costs and Period Costs

The units that remain in the closing inventory are treated as the asset of the company. These assets are recorded in the current assets of the balance sheet at the end of the year. The product costs also include the factory overhead cost that goes into manufacturing or procuring the products. how to make a balance sheet using a simple balance sheet equation Often, managers focus on the bottleneck operation, which means that their main focus is on including the direct material cost and time the product spends in the bottleneck operation. However, the managers also modify the overhead costs for short-term production or price determination.

Remember that retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and service organizations all have selling costs. In a manufacturing company, overhead is generally called manufacturing overhead. (You may also see other names for manufacturing overhead, such as factory overhead, factory indirect costs, or factory burden).

Product Cost vs. Period Costs: What Are the Differences?

Instead, they’re related to the passing of time and any time-based expenses like utility bills and rent. The cost of production is an essential component of basic business accounting. Breaking down your business’s costs can help you calculate profit more accurately as well as assist with financial forecasting.

Regardless, all period costs, whether fixed or semi-variable, are considered expenses and will be reported on your income statement. Product costs are often treated as inventory and are referred to as “inventoriable costs” because these costs are used to value the inventory. When products are sold, the product costs become part of costs of goods sold as shown in the income statement. All expenses incurred in the factory or manufacturing unit for producing the assets are product or manufacturing costs.

It means that DM and DL increase as production increases, and they decrease if production decreases as well. Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. You’ll also be able to spot trouble spots or overspending in administrative areas or if overhead has ballooned in recent months.

Moreover, period costs are expenses in the income statement of the period in which they were incurred. In this article, we have discussed what the product cost and the period costs are. The product costs can be calculated by using different approaches as job costing and process costing. This article was all about explaining both types of costs and comparing.

Period cost:

Wages for administrative employees are period costs, whereas direct labor tied to production is a product cost. Allocable but nontraceable costs to products and services—like our electricity example above—are called manufacturing overhead (MOH). We still include MOH as part of product costs even if we can’t trace them directly. Finally, managing product and period costs will help you establish more accurate pricing levels for your products. From the above description, we can conclude that the cost due to the manufacturing unit is product cost, and the cost other than product cost is a period cost. Period cost is not in a straight line with the production of the end product.

The cost incurred on the headquarters parts of the operation, such as all of the selling expenses and general and administrative costs, will be categorized as a period cost. In accounting, product costs are usually measured as part of the inventory. They’re often broken down into subcategories of fixed and variable costs, which can be used for calculating things like the break-even point. When a company sells its products, the product costs form part of the cost of goods sold (COGS) on the income statement.