What Are Adjusting Entries: A Complete Guide

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What Are Adjusting Entries: A Complete Guide

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Adjusting entries is essential for ensuring accurate financial reporting reflecting a business’s financial position. This comprehensive guide delves into the purpose and types of adjusting entries, such as accruals, deferrals, and estimates, explaining how they align financial statements with the accrual basis of accounting. By understanding and implementing adjusting entries, businesses can maintain precise records, comply with accounting standards, and make informed financial decisions. Read this guide to master the intricacies of adjusting entries and enhance your financial management practices. Let us get started:

What Exactly Are Adjusting Entries?

Adjusting entries are revisions to previously recorded journal entries to ensure they align with the correct accounting periods. These entries help track money flow accurately—how it enters, exits, and moves within different accounts. For instance, if you bill a customer $5,000 in August but receive payment in September, you initially record it as accounts receivable and later as cash.

Adjusting entries doesn’t change original entries but adds new ones to amend them. This process adheres to the matching principle, ensuring expenses and related revenues are recorded in the same period. The accounting cycle adjusts entries before preparing a trial balance and financial statements.

Importance of Accounting Adjusting Entries

Accounting adjusting entries ensure that your business activities are accurately recorded within the correct time frames. Without these adjustments, your financial records might show expenses before they occur or revenue before it’s earned, leading to mismatched income and expenses. This mismatch can result in inaccurate financial statements, crucial for making informed business decisions and correctly filing taxes. Additionally, accounting adjusting entries are vital for depreciating assets, allowing for accurate tax reporting and balanced books.

Who Should Make Accounting Adjusting Entries?

If you manage your accounting using the accrual method, you’ll need to make adjusting entries. However, adjusting entries is typically unnecessary if you use the cash basis system. Regardless of the accounting method, if you employ a bookkeeper, they will handle all adjusting entries for you.

Spreadsheets vs. Accounting Software vs. Bookkeepers: The Role of Adjusting Entries

The role of adjusting entries varies depending on your bookkeeping system. If you manage your books with spreadsheets, you are responsible for all adjusting entries and must refer to them when generating financial statements or keeping detailed notes for your accountant.

Spreadsheets vs. Accounting Software vs. Bookkeepers: The Role of Adjusting Entries
Spreadsheets vs. Accounting Software vs. Bookkeepers: The Role of Adjusting Entries

You still need to adjust your entries using accounting software, but the process is more streamlined than spreadsheets. The software will likely generate financial statements for you, but ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of adjusting entries remains your responsibility.

If you have a bookkeeper, they handle adjusting entries and preparing financial statements for you. For those without a bookkeeper, consider services like Aquifer, which provides a dedicated bookkeeping team to manage your finances.

 The Five Types of Accounting Adjusting Entries

Understanding adjusting entries becomes less daunting when you know only five distinct types exist. Here’s a concise overview of each type, including examples and how to record them.

1. Accrued Revenues

You need an accrued revenue adjustment when you earn revenue in one period but recognize it later.

I.e., in February, you create custom tote bags worth $1,200 and invoice the client, who pays in March. You record the anticipated revenue in February and adjust it once payment is received in March.

Adjusting Entry: Record the revenue in a “holding account” (accrued receivables) and then move it to the revenue account. Once paid, move the amount from revenue to cash.

2. Accrued Expenses

Accrued expenses are costs incurred in one period but paid in another.

I.e., you hire a contractor in February for $400, but they invoice you in March. You record the expense in February and adjust it when you pay in March.

Adjusting Entry: Record the anticipated expense as an accrued expense and debit your labor expenses account.

3. Deferred Revenues

Deferred revenues occur when you receive payment in advance for services to be performed later.

I.e., you are paid $2,000 in January to speak at a conference in March. You record the payment as deferred revenue in January and adjust it to consulting revenue in March.

Adjusting Entry: Credit the deferred revenue account in January and move it to consulting revenue once the service is performed in March.

4. Prepaid Expenses

Prepaid expenses are costs paid upfront for future benefits.

I.e. In December, you prepay a year’s rent for your manufacturing space. You record it as a prepaid rent expense and adjust it monthly as you incur the cost.

Adjusting Entry: Debit the prepaid expense account in December and change it monthly by moving a portion from the asset to the expense account.

5. Depreciation Expenses

Depreciation spreads the cost of a significant asset over its useful life.

I.e., you purchase equipment and depreciate it over several periods. At the end of each period, the accumulated depreciation changes, impacting your balance sheet and income statement.

Adjusting Entry: The method of recording depends on the chosen depreciation method. Consulting with an accountant is advisable due to the complexity and significant financial implications.

Bottom Line

You can ensure accurate and timely financial records by understanding these types and their entries. For expert accounting, you can consult the Aquifer professional team. Just contact us.


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