What Is Incremental Budgeting?

What Is Incremental Budgeting?
What Is Incremental Budgeting?

Incremental budgeting is a key factor in management accounting that is based on the notion of making a minor change to the existing budget in order to arrive at the new budget. To arrive at the new budgeted figures, only incremental amounts are added.

The budget for the current financial year serves as the foundation for planning the budget for the following year.

The management assumes that all departments will keep operating at their existing expenditure levels, and any additional amounts will be included in the next year’s budgeting predictions.

What Is Incremental Budgeting?

In cases when expenditure is expected to be lower, the budget will be reduced from the current year’s base, subject to certain conditions.

There is no set way of calculating the incremental budget; nonetheless, a method is used. The incremental budgeting approach begins with the assumption that the previous year’s expenditures will serve as the starting point for estimations for the current year.

Understanding the pros and cons of incremental budgeting can help you better grasp the concept.

How it works

When using incremental budgeting, you must apply the prior year’s estimates to the expected base for the current financial year. The second step is to look for any increases or decreases from the previous year and accumulate for the following year.

The process of incremental budgeting starts with a review of the previous period’s finances. The last period’s incremental budget is based on past data from previous budgets or actual performance.

Any adjustments for inflation and increased activity costs for the new budget are then added to the prior budget, hence the name “incremental.” 

However, depending on the variance analysis, budgets may allocate decreased expenses because it is not essential to simply add the costs to the budget.

The traditional budgeting strategy is less concerned with cost savings. We normally prepare our incremental budgets for a year in advance.

Because large businesses have cash allotted and only encounter slight variations, this incremental budget model works effectively for them.

Because of long-term sponsored projects, educational institutions and organizations are perfect examples of incremental budgeting.


A marketing agency employs a total of 15 people, with yearly pay totaling $ 1 million. The management decides to hire new personnel for the digital marketing area for an additional $ 0.5 million, as well as to give existing employees a 5% raise. 

The next incremental budget will be $ 0.5 (5 percent 1.0) million + $ 0.5 million = $ 1.0 million. As a result, the staff salary allocation in the budget for the following accounting period will be $ 2 million.

Budgets serve a variety of functions in every company, including planning, control, and monitoring. The budget approach chosen is determined by the objectives, entity type, and size of the entity for which the budgets are generated.

The Incremental Budgeting method is suited for firms where costs are more static and objectives are financially tangible.

What are the advantages of incremental budgeting?

– This budgeting strategy is simple to implement and does not require any complicated tasks. This is easily achieved for multiple agencies because no thorough testing is needed, regardless of the department in question.

– Incremental budgeting assures departmental financial continuity without involving a critical audit of funding requirements.

– Because it gradually changes the budget demand, the incremental budgeting strategy ensures that there are no big variances in the budget year after year. A business with this style of budgeting is more likely to have consistent budgets year after year.

– Many companies use incremental budgeting as a way to help minimize rivalry or create the value of equality among departments by giving all departments a similar amount of gain over the previous year.

– In the case of incremental budgeting, the impact of the changes is instantly visible.

– Incremental budgeting is appropriate for businesses where funding requirements are typically stable or with little variation.

What are the disadvantages of incremental budgeting?

– It is typically incremental in nature since it expects that this year’s requirement will be marginally different from last year’s. However, there could be severe structural changes within the organization, industry, or economy that need even larger budget alterations.

– This strategy can lead to managers spending more because budgets are conveniently accessible, resulting in needless spending of cash that may not be needed.

– Because this strategy anticipates just a minor change in budgetary allocations from the previous period, it expects that the method of working will remain the same. This may result in a lack of innovation and no incentive for management to cut costs.

– Incremental budgeting subconsciously encourages larger expenditures in order to keep the budget in place the following year.

– Incremental budgeting might lead to a situation known as budgetary slack, in which managers tend to create lower revenue growth and larger spending growth in order to achieve favorable variances.

– “Disconnect from reality” is a common occurrence in incremental budgeting scenarios, since actual results are frequently different from expected because budgets were based on a prior year benchmark rather than projected/forecast requirements.

– Incremental budgeting can cause perpetual resource allocation to certain departments even if they may not require them in later years. Because funds were allocated in one of the years, incremental budgeting will allocate the same or similar amounts in all subsequent years, resulting in resource waste or deprivation of other units.

– Because budgets are more or less the same throughout time, it causes the firm to operate in a conservative mode, as departments or units that seek to take a higher risk may not be provided with the necessary financing because funds may be granted to numerous units that do not require it.

Final Thoughts

The key benefits of incremental budgeting are simplicity and consistency. However, in the long run, this budgeting strategy can have negative consequences (as discussed immediately above).

This budgeting method’s conservatism, as well as its rigidity and subsequent inability to respond to internal and external changes put potentially significant limits on businesses functioning in today’s fast-paced business climate.

In general, incremental budgeting should be used only if you are convinced that the company’s budgets will remain constant over time with only minor changes. In other situations, more advanced budgeting procedures are advised.

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