What are Accrued and Prepaid Expenses?

Expenses blog header

Accrued and prepaid expenses play a crucial role in accounting by accurately reflecting a business’s financial status. Understanding the distinction between these expenses is essential.

Accrued expenses refer to costs that have been incurred but not yet paid, while prepaid expenses involve payments made in advance for upcoming goods or services.

Let’s dive into these concepts in a more straightforward way. 

What Are Accrued Expenses?

Accrued expenses are costs that you owe but haven’t paid yet. Think of it like ordering a pizza but not paying the delivery person right away. Examples include unpaid wages, interest, or utility bills that you’ve used but haven’t settled.


What Are Prepaid Expenses?

Prepaid expenses are payments you make ahead of time for things you’ll use later. It’s like buying a ticket for a concert next month. Common prepaid expenses include insurance, rent, and subscriptions. 


Why Accrued and Prepaid Expenses Matter


Accrued Expenses 

Accrued expenses affect your financial reports because they add to your liabilities (what you owe) and reduce your profits until they are paid. Example: If you haven’t paid for office supplies you’ve already received, you record this as an accrued expense. 


Prepaid Expenses 

Prepaid expenses are recorded as assets (things you own) until you use them. Over time, they turn into regular expenses. Example: If you pay for a year’s worth of insurance upfront, you gradually count it as an expense each month. 


How to Manage Accrued and Prepaid Expenses 

Managing these expenses well ensures your financial statements are accurate. Here are some tips: 


  1. Regular Reviews: Check your accrued and prepaid expenses often. 


  1. Adjust Entries: Make sure to adjust your records at the end of each accounting period.


  1. Use Accounting Software: Tools can help track and schedule payments. 


Making Journal Entries 


For Accrued Expenses 


  1. When Incurred: Debit the expense account and credit a liability account.
  2. When Paid: Debit the liability account and credit cash. 


For Prepaid Expenses 


  1. When Paid: Debit the asset account and credit cash. 
  2. When Used: Debit the expense account and credit the asset account. 


Accrued and prepaid expenses are crucial for accurate financial reporting. Managing them well helps businesses stay transparent and make better decisions.



What’s the difference between accrued and prepaid expenses? 

  • Accrued expenses are costs you owe but haven’t paid yet. Prepaid expenses are payments made in advance. 

How do these expenses affect financial statements? 

  • Accrued expenses increase liabilities and reduce profits. Prepaid expenses initially show as assets and later turn into expenses.


How can businesses manage these expenses?

  • Regular monitoring, accurate record-keeping, and timely adjustments are key.


What are the accounting implications? 

  • Accrued expenses need adjusting entries to show the expense when it happens. Prepaid expenses are recorded as assets and expensed over time


Not a Client Yet? 

Our team is here to help transform your finances so you can spend more time on what matters most.

We take the stress out of your accounts, maximise your time, and provide the expert guidance you need to reach your goals.

Complete our Quick Questionnaire and we’ll be in touch to book a Discovery call shortly.