Financial Literacy 101: Understanding the Basics of Bookkeeping and Accounting

Basics of bookkeeping and accounting

Financial literacy is vital for effective financial management in small businesses. This article simplifies the concepts of bookkeeping and accounting, illustrating their significance through relatable examples. Read below for your 3-minute recap on the basics of bookkeeping and accounting.


Bookkeeping serves as the foundational element, akin to the base of a house. It entails meticulously recording financial transactions, encompassing income and expenses. For instance, if you run a bakery, every bread sale and every expenditure on ingredients are diligently logged. This bookkeeping process functions as a financial diary, aiding in tracking money inflow and outflow.

Key Terms:

  • Income: Money earned by the business.
  • Expense: Money spent by the business.


Accounting, on the other hand, is the process of taking these individual pieces of financial data from bookkeeping and crafting a comprehensive financial story that elucidates the business’s health. Utilizing the bakery example, accounting helps determine profit or loss over a specific period and identifies trends, such as seasonal sales fluctuations.

Key Terms:

  • Profit: When income exceeds expenses.
  • Loss: When expenses surpass income.

The Two Methods of Accounting

Two primary accounting methods exist; Cash Accounting, which records transactions as they occur, and Accrual Accounting, which records transactions irrespective of cash exchanges. The latter can be more intricate compared to cash accounting. For instance, if a cake is sold in December but payment is received in January, cash accounting records income in January, whereas accrual accounting records it in December when the sale was made.

Financial Statements

Financial statements serve as the report card for businesses, with three main types:

  1. Income Statement (Profit and Loss Statement): Displays the business’s profitability by subtracting expenses from revenue.
  2. Balance Sheet: Offers a snapshot of the business’s financial position, listing assets, liabilities, and equity.
  3. Cash Flow Statement: Tracks cash movement in and out of the business, facilitating better cash management.

For example, a bakery’s income statement shows earnings from cake sales and associated costs. The balance sheet lists assets like ovens and cash liabilities such as loans and equity. The cash flow statement monitors cash inflows from sales and outflows for expenses.

While understanding these basics is vital, navigating complex financial matters often necessitates expert guidance. IV The Books provides assistance in setting up accurate bookkeeping, preparing financial statements, implementing tax-saving strategies, and ensuring financial compliance for small businesses. Contact us for a consultation and take the first step toward financial empowerment.