Why Transactions Are Recorded
Have you ever forgotten to record a check in your checking account register? I sure have. It wasn’t a huge mistake on my part, but can you imagine what it would be for a business? Not recording something in the right place could significantly affect the financial statements for the business. That’s why it’s so important to record each and every business transaction that occurs in a business.
Transactions and Double-Entry Accounting
I am sure that you already know what a transaction is, but even so, let me refresh you on the concept. A transaction is an event that occurs in a business that changes the balance of at least two accounts. Why do I say at least two accounts? I say that simply because the accounting system that is used by accounting professionals is called double-entry accounting.
Double-entry accounting states that for every one transaction that occurs, there will be at least two accounts affected. One account will be debited, and one account will be credited. A debit is an entry made on the left side of an account. A credit is an entry made on the right side of an account. These dual effects of a single transaction will either increase or decrease an account balance. That depends on the type of account that it is.
Looking at the charts, you see that asset and expense accounts have balance increases when they are debited and balance decreases when they are credited. In direct contrast, liability, stockholder’s equity, and revenue accounts have balance decreases when they are debited and balance increases when they are credited. These are very important points to know when recording transactions.
Recording business transactions is a multi-step process. The first step in recording business transactions is to examine the transaction and decide what accounts will be affected. The second step in recording business transactions is to decide what account will be debited and what account will be credited. The third step in recording business transactions is to actually document the transaction in a journal.
A journal, which is also known as a book of original entry, is the first place that a transaction is written in accounting records. Even when you’re using a computerized accounting program, items are still recorded in journals; you just don’t manually enter them. The best way to learn how to record business transactions is to actually record some.