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How to Calculate the COG aka the Cost of Goods Sold?

Dominik Rapacki
CEO @meetergo
2 minutes reading time
Table of contents
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Did you know the cost of goods sold (COGS) shows the direct costs in making sales? This affects a company's financial health a lot. Knowing how to figure out COGS lets businesses see how they're doing. Then, they can make smart choices to do better.

  • The cost of goods sold (COGS) includes the direct costs of producing goods or services for sale.
  • COGS is an important metric used in financial statements to determine gross profit.
  • Calculating COGS involves considering the cost of materials and labor used in production.
  • COGS can provide valuable insights into a company's financial health and profitability.
  • Understanding and accurately calculating COGS is essential for effective inventory management and financial analysis.

What Is Included in the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)?

The cost of goods sold (COGS) is the total direct cost of making goods a company then sells. This includes the price of materials, the cost of labor, and the overhead for making the products.

When figuring out their COGS, a company looks at only the costs related to creating the goods. They don't include expenses for things like office space or ads. These expenses are not directly used in making products, so they're left out of the COGS.

Direct costs encompass everything needed for the product itself, such as the raw materials. It also includes the wages of workers directly involved in making the product.

Aside from direct costs, there's manufacturing overhead. This refers to costs like utilities and equipment maintenance. These are needed for production but not directly part of making the product.

COGS only includes those costs that are directly related to producing goods or services intended for sale. It excludes indirect costs such as office expenses or marketing costs that are not part of the production process.

Knowing what goes into COGS is key for companies' financial health. By focusing on direct costs, they see exactly what's linked to making their products. This helps in setting prices and making choices that help them earn more.

Next, we'll get into how to work out the COGS. This formula is vital for businesses to figure out their COGS accurately.

What Is the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) Formula?

The cost of goods sold formula is: COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases - Ending Inventory. Beginning inventory means the value of what's left from the year before. Purchases are the new items bought or produced. Ending inventory is what's left unsold.

To find cost of goods sold, subtract ending inventory from the total. This total is beginning inventory plus purchases. This helps businesses know their costs for the year.

The COGS formula is simple. It looks at starting inventory, adds new items, and subtracts unsold items at year-end.

Now, let's look at each part:

  • Beginning Inventory: This is the leftover stock at the year's start. It's from items not sold the year before.
  • Purchases: This is what's bought or made during the year. It's the new stock for selling.
  • Ending Inventory: This is what hasn't been sold by the year-end. It's the leftover stock.

These components help figure out cost of goods sold. This figure is key for understanding a company's success and how well it handles inventory.

Application and Importance

The COGS formula is crucial for financial reports and analysis. It's part of the income statement, affecting gross profit. Knowing COGS helps businesses show their profit margin and see how well they're doing.

Finding COGS accurately is vital for good decisions on inventory. Watching starting, purchases, and ending stock helps spot trends. This information guides decisions on stock levels, production, and prices.

COGS matters in all industries. It shows the costs of making goods or services directly. This helps check how efficient a business is. With the right COGS, a company can control its financial direction well.

cost of goods sold formula different methods

What Are Different Accounting Methods for COGS?

When determining inventory value and COGS, companies can pick from various accounting methods. Each way influences COGS and inventory value. Here are four common methods:

FIFO method

The FIFO method means first goods in are the first to be sold. It's great for items that can go bad or are time-sensitive. Many places, like Germany, prefer it since it shows a clear cost of inventory.

LIFO method

The LIFO method says the latest items are sold first. It can lower taxes in some countries, but not in Germany. Using LIFO may not show a true cost of goods.

Average cost method

The average cost method finds the total value of all inventory, then divides by the items. It works well for large numbers of similar items. This method smooths out changes in inventory costs.

Special identification method

The special identification method is for high-priced, unique goods. It's common in luxury and high-end markets. It helps value specific items accurately.

Choosing the right COGS method depends on the product, industry norms, laws, and taxes. A method should show how inventory moves and the real cost of goods.

Picking the best accounting method helps businesses accurately value inventory and calculate COGS. This leads to smarter financial choices.

limitations of the cost of goods formula

What Are the Limitations of COGS?

Understanding a company's Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is crucial but it has its drawbacks. Some accountants or managers might change the COGS numbers. They do this to show higher or lower costs. They could do this by adding more overhead costs, changing the inventory numbers, or overvaluing what's on hand.

This action makes the COGS numbers wrong. It might make the company seem like it's doing better or worse financially than it really is.

Accounting tricks hurt businesses and those who invest in them. They make financial statements less trustworthy, which can scare off investors. Plus, it could lead to legal trouble.

Investors and those involved in the company should keep an eye out for these issues. They can look closely at the company's financial reports. Doing so can help spot any fishy accounting. Basically, this helps avoid investing in problematic companies.

Auditors and regulators also play a big role. They should watch over to make sure everything is being done correctly. This oversight is necessary for keeping financial reports honest. Honest reports build trust in companies.


How to calculate cost of goods sold easily?

The cost of goods sold can be calculated using the formula: Beginning Inventory + Purchases - Ending Inventory = Cost of Goods Sold.

What is included in the cost of goods sold calculation?

The cost of goods sold calculation typically includes the cost of raw materials, direct labor costs, and any other direct costs associated with producing the goods sold by a company.

How do you include operating expenses in the cost of goods sold?

Operating expenses are not typically included in the cost of goods sold calculation, as COGS focuses on the direct costs of producing goods rather than general business expenses.

What is the difference between cost of goods sold and cost of sales?

Cost of goods sold refers specifically to the direct costs associated with producing goods sold by a company, while cost of sales may include additional expenses such as labor cost and overhead.

How do you calculate the gross profit using the cost of goods sold?

Gross profit can be calculated by subtracting the cost of goods sold from total sales revenue.

What is the importance of calculating the cost of goods sold?

Calculating the cost of goods sold is crucial for businesses to determine their profitability, set pricing strategies, and make informed financial decisions.

What is the relationship between cost of goods sold and profit margin?

Cost of goods sold directly impacts the profit margin, as it represents the costs directly associated with generating revenue and determines the profitability of a company.


Calculating the cost of goods sold (COGS) is key for a business's financial health. It helps them make smart choices for success. By figuring out COGS accurately with a formula and choosing the right inventory valuation method, they understand their costs and profit better.

But, figuring out COGS isn't without trouble. Bad accounting and possible manipulation can mess up the numbers. This leads to bad financial info and wrong decisions. So, being honest and transparent with how they value their inventory is crucial for any business.

Knowing about COGS is big for both money matters and managing goods well. By staying up to date with their COGS, businesses can better control their stock, spot chances to save money, and run more smoothly. Knowing their financial situation well, they can choose smart moves that help them grow and succeed over time.

Imagine Calendly + Typeform had a Baby
Your New Secret Weapon is Here!

See the Magic ✨

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