Financial modelling terms explained

Period Costs

Discover the ins and outs of period costs and financial modeling with this comprehensive guide.

Understanding the intricacies of financial modelling is crucial for anyone involved in the financial sector. One of the key terms that often comes up in this context is 'Period Costs'. This term, while seemingly complex, can be broken down and understood with a bit of effort. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of period costs, exploring its definition, types, importance, and how it impacts financial modelling.

What are Period Costs?

Period costs, also known as period expenses, are the costs that a company incurs that are not directly tied to a specific business activity, product, or service. Instead, these costs are associated with the passage of time. They are non-manufacturing costs, meaning they are not included in the cost of purchasing or producing inventory.

Examples of period costs include selling expenses (like advertising and marketing costs), general and administrative expenses (like office rent and utilities), and financial expenses (like interest on loans). These costs are expensed in the period they are incurred and are recorded on the income statement for that period, hence the name 'Period Costs'.

Types of Period Costs

Period costs can be broadly categorized into three types: selling costs, administrative costs, and financial costs. Let's take a closer look at each of these.

Selling Costs

Selling costs, also known as selling expenses, are the costs associated with the distribution and selling of a company's products or services. These costs include advertising and marketing expenses, sales staff salaries, commission, and travel expenses. Selling costs are necessary for a company to generate sales and are expensed in the period they are incurred.

For example, if a company spends $10,000 on an advertising campaign in January, that $10,000 would be recorded as a period cost in January's income statement, regardless of when the benefits from the campaign are realized.

Administrative Costs

Administrative costs, also known as general and administrative expenses, are the costs associated with the general management of a company. These costs include office rent, utilities, office supplies, salaries of non-production employees, and depreciation on office equipment. Like selling costs, administrative costs are expensed in the period they are incurred.

For instance, if a company pays $5,000 in rent for its office space in February, that $5,000 would be recorded as a period cost in February's income statement.

Financial Costs

Financial costs are the costs associated with a company's financial activities. These costs include interest on loans, exchange rate losses, and bank charges. Financial costs are also expensed in the period they are incurred.

For example, if a company pays $1,000 in interest on a loan in March, that $1,000 would be recorded as a period cost in March's income statement.

Importance of Period Costs

Understanding period costs is essential for several reasons. Firstly, period costs are crucial for accurate financial reporting. They affect a company's profit and loss statement, and thus, its net income. By correctly categorizing and recording period costs, a company can accurately measure its profitability.

Secondly, period costs are important for decision-making. By understanding which costs are period costs, a company can make informed decisions about where to cut costs and where to invest more. For example, if a company's selling costs are high, it might decide to cut back on advertising or find more cost-effective ways to market its products.

Period Costs in Financial Modelling

In financial modelling, period costs play a significant role. Financial models are used to forecast a company's financial performance, and period costs are a key component of these forecasts. By accurately predicting period costs, a company can create more accurate financial models and make better financial decisions.

For example, if a company is planning to take out a loan, it would need to include the interest on that loan (a financial cost) in its financial model. Similarly, if a company is planning a major advertising campaign, it would need to include the cost of that campaign (a selling cost) in its financial model.


Period costs are an essential aspect of financial accounting and financial modelling. While they may seem complex, understanding period costs is crucial for accurate financial reporting and decision-making. By understanding what period costs are, how they are categorized, and how they impact financial modelling, you can enhance your financial knowledge and make more informed financial decisions.

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