Know What is the Difference between Debits and Credits in Double Entry in Accounting

11 Minute Read

Know What is the Difference between Debits and Credits in Double-Entry in Accounting



Imagine your piggy bank is like a big tree with two main branches: one for adding money (debits) and the other for spending it (credits). In the world of double-entry accounting, every business transaction is like a bird that lands on both branches, making sure the tree stays balanced. When we record debits and credits in the accounting system, it's like writing down every bird's visit. If we put money into our piggy bank (an asset account), the debit side grows bigger because debits increase assets.

But if we buy something on credit, like owing money for a new toy (a liability account payable), the credits decrease that side, making the branch lighter. This balance is kept in a big book called the general ledger, which helps make a map of all our money called the balance sheet. Every time we make a debit entry, like adding money, or a credit entry, like spending it, we're making sure our tree stays healthy and balanced, just like a business keeps track of its money.

What sets debits apart from credits in double-entry accounting?

What is Double-Entry Accounting?

Double-entry accounting is a crucial concept in the financial world, acting as the backbone of a company's financial health and transparency. By diving deeper into its mechanisms, we can uncover the intricate dance between debits and credits that keeps a business's financial story accurate and balanced.

Definition and Explanation of Double-Entry Accounting

Double-entry accounting is like a rule in a game where every move must be balanced. Think of it as having two buckets, one for money coming in (debits) and one for money going out (credits). Every time a business does something that involves money, like selling toys or buying supplies, it has to put the same amount of money in both buckets. This helps the business keep track of where its money is going and coming from. There are different types of accounts, like the cash account, accounts payable (money the business owes), and revenue account (money the business makes). Each one plays a part in this big game of keeping the buckets balanced.

Importance of Double-Entry Accounting

Double-entry accounting is super important because it helps businesses see if they are making money or spending too much. It's like a scorecard that shows whether the business is winning or needs to change its game plan, a process aided by meticulously keeping accounting records. By using different accounts, such as accounts receivable (money owed to the business) and notes payable (money the business owes to others), a business can keep track of all its money. This way, the owners and shareholders (people who own a piece of the business) can see how the business is doing through financial statements, like the income statement and balance sheet, utilizing the double entry accounting method.

How Double-Entry Accounting Works

In double-entry accounting, every business transaction involves two steps: a debit and a corresponding credit to different accounts. For example, if a business buys supplies on credit, it increases its expenses (debit) but also increases its accounts payable (credit). This ensures that the total amount in one account must equal the total in another, keeping everything balanced. Bookkeepers and accountants use a chart of accounts to organize all these transactions. They make journal entries to record each transaction, showing which accounts are affected and how. This system helps track everything from the cash account to shareholder equity, making sure every penny is accounted for.

Differentiating Debits and Credits

Feature Debits Credits

Before we dive into the specifics of debits and credits, let's lay down a simple foundation. Think of debits and credits as the two sides of a coin in the double-entry accounting system. Every financial transaction involves this coin, ensuring that our financial story stays balanced and true.

Understanding Debits in Accounting

Debits are like adding water to one side of a see-saw in the playground. In the accounting world, they're recorded on the left side. Examples include when a business buys something or pays for a service, like getting new office supplies or paying an electricity bill, all of which are instances where expenses are recorded. Debits increase the balance of an asset account, like cash or office equipment, and decrease the balance of a liability account, such as loans or accounts payable. They also increase expense and loss accounts, which track the money spent or lost by the business.

Understanding Credits in Accounting

Credits, on the other hand, are like taking water off the see-saw, making the other side go up. They're recorded on the right side of our accounting book. Credits decrease assets, like when we pay off a debt and reduce our cash, showcasing how debits decrease liabilities in contrast. They increase a liability account, such as when we take a loan. Credit increases also happen in equity accounts when the business owner invests more money into the business or when the business earns a profit.

How Debits and Credits Affect the Accounting Equation

The magic of debits and credits keeps our financial see-saw balanced. Every transaction changes the two or more accounts, but the total debits must equal the total credits, illustrating the principle that debits decrease liabilities and increase assets. This balance is the foundation of double-entry accounting, ensuring that every financial transaction is recorded twice, maintaining the integrity of our financial statements.

Practical Application and Tools

Exploring how double-entry accounting is used in real life helps us understand its importance in keeping a company's finances in check. Let's look into how modern tools and principles make managing money both easier and more reliable.

Using Accounting Software for Double-Entry Accounting

Imagine playing a video game that helps you manage a store's money. Accounting software does just that but for real businesses. It automatically makes two entries for every transaction: a debit in one account and a credit in another. This way, if you buy something for your store, like inventory, the software increases an asset account (like inventory) with a debit and decreases your cash or increases a liability account (like accounts payable) with a credit. It's like having a smart helper that makes sure every penny spent or earned is tracked.

The Importance of Maintaining Balance in Accounting

Keeping a company's books balanced is like making sure a seesaw has the same weight on both sides. If every debit has a matching credit, the assets of a company will always equal the sum of its liabilities and equity. This balance is crucial for creating accurate financial statements, which are like report cards for a business. They show how much the company owns, owes, and how much it is worth at any time. Maintaining this balance helps everyone understand the financial health of the business clearly, an essential aspect of the accounting method where debits and credits are recorded.

Recording Transactions using Debits and Credits

When a company buys something on credit, it doesn't just write down "bought supplies." It makes two bookkeeping entries: a debit increases the balance of an asset account, like inventory or office supplies, showing that the company has more stuff. At the same time, a credit in another account, like accounts payable, shows that the company now owes money for these supplies. This method, unlike single-entry bookkeeping, provides a complete picture of every transaction's impact on the company’s balance sheet, ensuring that the story of the company’s finances is accurate and comprehensive. Every transaction impacts the company's assets, liabilities (which are obligations that provide future economic benefits), and equity, representing the total value of the company at the time of purchase.

Further Reading: Equity And The Balance Sheet. Here’s What You Should Know

Key Takeaways:

  1. Debit: When you add money to an account. It’s like when you save money in your piggy bank.
  2. Credit: When you take money out of an account. Imagine buying a toy with the money from your piggy bank, reflecting a basic transaction where debits and credits are recorded to reflect expenses and reductions in cash.
  3. Accounts: Places where you keep track of your money moves. Like different jars for saving, spending, and sharing, each transaction and make use of specific accounting records.
  4. Balance: Making sure both sides (debits and credits) are equal. It’s like making sure both sides of a seesaw are level.
  5. Double-Entry: A fundamental accounting method where transactions and make changes in accounts must adhere to the principle that debits and credits must be equal. A rule that every money move must be recorded twice, once as a debit and once as a credit. It’s like writing down you got a toy and also noting you spent money on it.

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March 22, 2024


Kristal Sepulveda, CPA

Kristal Sepulveda, CPA


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