Since the late 13th century, people have discussed debit versus credit. Double entry accounting was conceived centuries ago. Now, it is an international standard to record all business transactions with a debit and a credit. This double entry keeps the accounting equation balanced. It also ensures that one account is not left out of a transaction. If you make a mistake, an unbalanced ledger occurs.
Even though accounting software guides you along the double entry process, it is still important to understand the debit and credit rules. This gives you the ability to correct mistakes and edit your company’s books. Without knowing the fundamentals of double entry accounting, you run the risk of keeping inaccurate records that may be beyond repair.
Entrepreneurs are often guilty of not truly understanding accounting and their company’s financial statements. Understanding these begins with grasping the debit and credit rules. These rules are part of a bigger concept: keeping the assets equal to the liabilities plus shareholders’ equity.
The basic rules state whether an account increase or decreases with a debit or credit. Asset accounts and expense accounts increase with debits and decrease with credits. This means you debit cash to increase the cash account. It also means you debit your COGS to increase your cost of goods account. On the other hand, liabilities, revenues, and shareholders’ equity increase with credits and decrease with debits.
While these rules are not instinctual, they helped businesses keep accurate records for centuries. The extra work to record a debit and credit for each transaction helps prevent errors as well as making mistakes easier to identify.
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