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Bookkeeping Basics

February 7, 2024by Barbara Flynn0

Bookkeeping is the process of recording, organizing, and managing financial transactions of a business. It’s crucial for tracking the financial health of a company, making informed business decisions, and fulfilling legal requirements. Here are some basics of bookkeeping:


  1. Double-Entry System: Bookkeeping typically follows the double-entry system, where every transaction is recorded twice, once as a debit and once as a credit. This ensures that the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Equity) remains balanced.
  2. Chart of Accounts: This is a list of all accounts used by a company to classify financial transactions. It includes assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expense accounts.
  3. Recording Transactions: Every financial transaction, whether it involves cash, credit, or barter, needs to be recorded accurately. Common documents used for recording transactions include invoices, receipts, bank statements, and purchase orders.
  4. Debits and Credits: In the double-entry system, debits and credits must always balance. Debits increase asset and expense accounts while decreasing liability and equity accounts. Credits do the opposite.
  5. Journals and Ledgers: Transactions are initially recorded in a journal, which is then posted to the appropriate accounts in the general ledger. The ledger contains individual accounts and their respective balances.
  6. Trial Balance: This is a report that lists all the accounts in the general ledger along with their balances. It’s used to ensure that total debits equal total credits, which indicates that the books are balanced.
  7. Financial Statements: Bookkeeping facilitates the preparation of financial statements such as the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. These statements provide a snapshot of a company’s financial performance and position.
  8. Bank Reconciliation: Regularly comparing the company’s internal financial records with bank statements helps identify any discrepancies and ensures accuracy.
  9. Accrual vs. Cash Basis: Bookkeeping can be done on either an accrual basis or a cash basis. Accrual accounting records transactions when they occur, regardless of when cash changes hands, while cash accounting records transactions only when cash is received or paid.
  10. Compliance and Taxes: Accurate bookkeeping is essential for compliance with tax regulations and other legal requirements. It provides the necessary documentation for tax filings and audits.
  11. Software and Technology: Many businesses use bookkeeping software to streamline the process and reduce errors. Popular options include QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks.
  12. Regular Maintenance: Bookkeeping is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Regularly updating records, reconciling accounts, and reviewing financial reports are essential for effective financial management.


Understanding these basics is crucial for anyone responsible for maintaining the financial records of a business, whether they are a small business owner, an accountant, or a bookkeeper.

Barbara Flynn

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