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The Beginner’s Guide to Bookkeeping

July 11, 2023
Bill Kimball

Asset accounts start with the cash account since cash is perfectly liquid. After the cash account, there is the inventory, receivables, and fixed assets accounts. Firms also have intangible assets such as customer goodwill that may be listed on the balance sheet.

  • For example, the electricity bill depends on how much power you consume.
  • After the cash account, there is the inventory, receivables, and fixed assets accounts.
  • Written records don’t have to be elaborate for most transactions, particularly small-dollar ones; receipts aren’t generally that elaborate, either.

By outsourcing your accounting needs to well-trained virtual assistants, you can rest assured of a robust, scalable, and streamlined accounts process while focusing on your larger business goals. Hiring a virtual assistant can help you streamline your accounting needs. Before hiring a virtual assistant, you can get a 7-day risk-free trial of their services.

Bookkeeping Basics for Small Business Owners

Very small businesses may choose a simple bookkeeping system that records each financial transaction in much the same manner as a checkbook. Businesses that have more complex financial transactions usually choose to use the double-entry accounting process. These accounts are totalled at the end of a time period (at least once a year but probably each month as well) to measure the total profit or loss for that period. The P&L account, when published as a financial statement, is a summary of all the income and expense accounts that reflect the year’s trading transactions. The way you categorize transactions will depend on your business and industry. Generally speaking, your transactions fall into five account types—assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expenses.

bookkeeping expenses

Electronic records count as written records, particularly when you maintain them in an orderly fashion in the ordinary course of business. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses using the cash method, as it is very easy to understand, even for entrepreneurs without a business background. Paying personal expenses out of the corporate accounts or corporate expenses out of your personal accounts tends to demonstrate that the company is just a fiction. Since entrepreneurs who incorporate want (and should benefit from) the limitation on liability offered by incorporation, they should be careful to maintain the distinction. Each entry in a ledger has an amount, a description, a date, and some notion of where the money is coming from and where it is going. You can think of your checkbook or bank statement as a ledger, though a very simple one relative to the one your business is likely to have.

It would help you know how they work and whether you would get along with them well. If you decide the services are not for you, don’t worry, we promise you’ll get your money back. The expenses you spend for your business differ from those incurred for your personal needs. Mixing up business and personal expenses is bad practice and must be avoided.

Separate your business and personal expenses

Expenses have a direct impact on profitability, while costs do not have a direct impact on profitability. Finally, if you want someone else to do your bookkeeping for you, you could sign up for a cloud-based bookkeeping service like Bench. We’ll do your bookkeeping for you, prepare monthly financial statements, give you expense reports with actionable financial insights, and we’ll even file your taxes for you when the time comes. If you need to borrow money from someone other than friends and family, you’ll need to have your books together.

This helps your bookkeeper catch more deductions, and will make your life easier if you get audited. The more information (and supporting documents) you can give your CPA at tax time, the more deductions you’ll be able to legitimately claim, and the bigger your tax return will be. Create an account and start accepting payments—no contracts or banking details required. Or, contact us to design a custom package for your business. In the accrual method, both revenue and expenses are recognized once the amount is fixed, known to be (in principle) collectible, and after economic performance has happened.

These rules are called Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Bookkeeping is the process of keeping track of every financial transaction made by a business firm from the opening of the firm to the closing of the firm. Depending on the type of accounting system used by the business, each financial transaction is recorded based on supporting documentation. That documentation may be a receipt, an invoice, a purchase order, or some similar type of financial record showing that the transaction took place.

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Do Your Own Bookkeeping, with an Excel Income Statement Template

If bookkeeping keeps getting pushed aside as your business starts growing and you simply can’t find the time to get your books in order every month, you should consider hiring a professional to help you. If you’re a busy small business owner with a million things to do, it’s easy to let bookkeeping fall by the wayside. But even if an expense is ordinary and necessary, you may still not be able to deduct all of it on your taxes. Just because you do most of your work from your dining room table doesn’t mean that you can deduct your entire monthly rent. Luckily, the IRS has put together a comprehensive guide on business deductions that you can consult if you’re ever unsure about a deduction. You could go with one of dozens of popular cloud accounting solutions, like QuickBooks, Xero or Wave.

bookkeeping expenses

The equity accounts include all the claims the owners have against the company. The business owner has an investment, and it may be the only investment in the firm. If the firm has taken on other investors, that is reflected here. Gains often occur when a company sells an asset that was used in the business, and the cash received was greater than the asset’s carrying amount on the company’s books. For example, if a company car is sold for $10,000 and its book value is $9,000, there will be a gain of $1,000.

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We’ll also give you simple software to produce financial statements, keep track of your daily expenses, and help make tax time a breeze. Under single-entry, journal entries are recorded once, as either an expense or income. Assets and liabilities (like inventory, equipment and loans) are tracked separately.

Save receipts for payments, as the IRS requires you to keep records for three years. Expenses have to be appropriately classified or categorized. Most importantly, it would be helpful when you claim tax deductions. When you incur an expense but have not yet paid, it is termed accrued expense. We could prepare a P&L account from those T-accounts that we indicated were either income accounts or expense accounts.

When expenses are classified, you can categorize them as operating or non-operating. Operating expenses are the costs incurred selling goods and services. Examples of operating expenses are rent, salaries, and marketing costs. It also includes general costs needed to run the business, such as research, travel, and IT expenses. In this guide, we will provide an overview of recording expenses in bookkeeping and provide practical tips for entrepreneurs to maintain accurate financial records. While most entrepreneurs focus on recording their sales, tracking expenseas to maintain accurate financial records is equally important.

Doing so lets you produce financial statements, which are often a prerequisite for getting a business loan, a line of credit from a bank, or seed investment. Written records don’t have to be elaborate for most transactions, particularly small-dollar ones; receipts aren’t generally that elaborate, either. The IRS does not mandate that you have any particular style of recordkeeping, only that you do it in a consistent manner that lets you comply with your obligations. Internet companies customarily keep most of their records in one or more computer systems. It is important that you know what information is where, that you’re able to pull it at will, and that your records are available for the appropriate length of time.

Alternatively, you can send a mail to [email protected] and share your specific requirements. Costs are one-time payments, whereas expenses are recurring in nature. For example, buying machinery is a one-time activity, whereas paying building rent happens every month.

Income Statement Accounts

It gives you a more realistic idea of your business’ income and expenses during a period of time and provides a long-term view of the business that cash accounting can’t provide. If you wait until the end of the year to reconcile or get your financial transactions in order, you won’t know if you or your bank made a mistake until you’re buried in paperwork at tax time. Regularly organizing and updating your books can help you catch that erroneous overdraft fee today, rather than six months from now, when it’s too late to bring up. Many investors will expect to see books done in the accrual method, as there are a variety of ways to report via the cash method that make a business seem to be more successful than it actually is. Additionally, it is just operationally easier if your business transactions and personal transactions stay in separate accounts.

The information below will help you understand more about expense types and make it easy while recording expense. Enter your transactions into this Excel template, and voila! Perfect for small business owners who aren’t ready for full-fledged accounting software. Most accounting software today is based on double-entry accounting, and if you ever hire a bookkeeper or accountant to help you with your books, double-entry is what they’ll use.

This explains why the income statement accounts are referred to as temporary accounts. A virtual bookkeeping assistant does not sit in your office but works remotely. The benefit is that you don’t have to set aside space in your premises and allot resources. As a result, you will be spending much less when compared to hiring a full-time bookkeeper.