The 8 Steps in the Accounting Cycle A Step-by-Step Example Guide

Once an accounting cycle closes, a new cycle begins, restarting the eight-step accounting process all over again. A cash flow statement shows how cash is entering and leaving your business. While the income statement shows revenue and expenses that don’t cost literal money (like depreciation), the cash flow statement covers all transactions where funds enter or leave your accounts. In the accounting cycle, the fifth step involves using worksheets to analyze and reconcile debits and credits. This helps identify and correct errors and discrepancies found in the trial balance. If there are mismatches between debits and credits, bookkeepers use worksheets to track adjustments needed to balance the accounts.

  1. This process involves carefully documenting each transaction in chronological order, whether using physical books or accounting software.
  2. This entire process marks the end of one accounting cycle and the beginning of the next reporting period.
  3. They consider every part of the accounting cycle, including original source documents, looking through journal entries, general ledgers, and financial statements.
  4. The accounting cycle incorporates all the accounts, journal entries, T accounts, debits, and credits, adjusting entries over a full cycle.
  5. There are lots of variations of the accounting cycle—especially between cash and accrual accounting types.

What is the Accounting Cycle? 8 Steps Explained

Take note however that the purpose of a trial balance is only test the equality of total debits and total credits. It does not provide complete assurance that the accounting records are correct and accurate. Obviously, business transactions occur and numerous journal entries are recording during one period. A trial balance is prepared to test the equality of the debits and credits.

Step 2: Record Transactions in a Journal

In the table below you’ll see all the types of accounts, along with the corresponding changes for debit and credit. It’s accounting law that if money goes into one account, it has to come out of another. We already learned that the accounting cycle keeps your documents neat and orderly. This allows you to have accurate and professional recordings of your finances.

Step 5. Analyze the worksheet

Now it’s time to record the above transaction in the general Journal. Now, let’s have a closer look on the complete accounting cycle process by performing the following example step by step. Even small businesses would benefit from using the accounting cycle in their business, and if you are using accrual accounting, it’s an absolute must. If you’re using accounting software, this process is automated, which will save you a tremendous amount of time and significantly reduce the chance of errors. To be a successful forensic accountant, one must be detailed, organized, and naturally inquisitive. This position will need to retrace the steps a suspect may have taken to cover up fraudulent financial activities.

Accounting Cycle Steps

The goal is to show you how much your financial contribution to the company has changed, and why. The accounting cycle is a methodical set of rules that can help ensure the accuracy and conformity of financial statements. Computerized accounting systems and the uniform process of the accounting cycle have helped to reduce mathematical errors. Closing the books takes place at the end of business operations on the last day of the accounting period. Then, the next day, a new accounting period begins, and new books are opened.

Step 2: Add Adjusting Entries

Accrual accounting is more flexible, and it allows you to match revenue and expenses. The budget cycle is the planning process that a business goes through in order to derive a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The accounting cycle is the actions taken to identify and record an entity’s transactions. These transactions are then aggregated at the end of each reporting period into financial statements.

Unlike accounts on the balance sheet, which reflect the company’s overall financial status at a certain point, income statement accounts need to be reset to start fresh for the next period. Bookkeepers analyze the transaction and record it in the general journal with a journal entry. The debits and credits from the journal are then posted to the general ledger where an unadjusted trial balance can be prepared. The accounting cycle is a holistic process that records a business’s transactions from start to finish, helping companies stay organized and efficient.

Use of a checklist with deadlines in the accounting cycle improves accountability and process management. Digitization of the accounting process considerably reduces paper consumption, contributing to environmental conservation. Digital records are also more convenient for storage, retrieval, and backup, making them more effective and dependable than traditional paper records. An effective accounting process can identify inefficiencies or inconsistencies in business operations. Business transactions identified are then analyzed to determine the accounts affected and the amounts to be recorded.

A period is one operating cycle of a business, which could be a month, quarter, or year. The accounting cycle vs operating cycle are entirely different financial terms. The accounting cycle consists of the steps from recording business transactions to generating financial statements for an accounting period.

The next step is to record your financial transactions as journal entries in your accounting software or ledger. Still, businesses need to fill out expense reports to track monies paid. It starts with recording all financial transactions throughout that accounting period and ends with posting closing entries to close the books and prepare for the next accounting period.

At the end of the accounting period, some expenses may have been incurred but not yet recorded in the journals. The balance sheet and income statement depict business events over the last accounting cycle. A cash flow statement, while not mandatory, helps project and track your business’s cash flow. This process is repeated for all revenue and expense ledger accounts. Balance sheet accounts (such as bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) do not need closing entries as their balances carry over. Once you’ve converted all of your business transactions into debits and credits, it’s time to move them into your company’s ledger.

Investing in accounting automation software is a wise choice for companies looking to scale and overcome complexities. Many CFOs are turning to end-to-end automated solutions to streamline processes, especially as they expand into new markets and add new entities. Accruals, on the other hand, are revenues and expenses you haven’t immediately recorded. Deferrals are money you spend, before getting any actual revenue or service. For the sake of our example, we’ll assume that the end of the accounting period is September 30th. Here’s what the previous journal entry would look like posted in the Ledger.

For example, if debit amounts to $800 and credit to $1,300, there’s $500 a bookkeeper should correct. Meaning that for there to be a transaction, either assets, liabilities, or the owner’s equity have to increase or decrease. For instance, accounting specialists are used to the process, so they usually prefer taking the shorter road. Financial statements are a well-structured summarization of your transactions. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more.

Technological integration in the accounting cycle significantly lowers the probability of human-related mistakes. Let’s dive deeper into the impact of technology on the accounting cycle. Searching for and fixing these errors is called making correcting entries.

The eight-step accounting cycle process makes accounting easier for bookkeepers and busy entrepreneurs. It can help to take the guesswork out of how to handle accounting activities. It also helps to ensure consistency, accuracy, and efficient financial performance analysis. The main difference between the accounting cycle and what is the implication of a reduction in accounts payable, with respect to cash flow and net income the budget cycle is the accounting cycle compiles and evaluates transactions after they have occurred. The budget cycle is an estimation of revenue and expenses over a specified period of time in the future and has not yet occurred. A budget cycle can use past accounting statements to help forecast revenues and expenses.