Prepaid Expenses Definition + Examples

prepaid expenses

Prepaid expenses are considered current assets because they are amounts paid in advance by a business in exchange for goods or services to be delivered in the future. Prepaid expenses usually relate to the purchase of something, such as rent or insurance, that provides value to the business over several accounting periods (often six months or a year). The business records a prepaid expense as an asset on the balance sheet because it represents a future benefit due to the business. As the benefits of the good or service are realized over time, the asset’s value is decreased, and the amount is expensed to the income statement.


The upsides and downsides related to prepaying an expense depend on the situation. The biggest downside is that you will be deducting cash for other potential uses in the same time period. So, as the benefits of the expense are recognised, the asset’s value decreases in the form of an expense.

What Type of Account is a Prepaid Expense?

The easiest way to manage prepaid expenses is by using accounting software, which will automatically post a journal entry each month to reduce the balance in your prepaid accounts. But even if you simply use a spreadsheet to calculate your monthly expenses, managing prepaid expenses is one of the easier things you’ll need to manage. Your next step would be to record the insurance expense for the next 12 months. You may be able to set up a recurring journal entry in your accounting software that will complete this automatically. If not, you’ll need to create an amortization schedule to help you determine how much you need to pay each month and for how many months.

  • Typically, organizations record expenses as prepaid expenses when they make advance payments for items such as rent, insurance, and other regular expenses.
  • Failure to do so can lead to incorrect financial reporting, misrepresenting a company’s financial position, and jeopardizing financial transparency.
  • On the other hand, accrued expenses are recorded as current liabilities, reflecting expenses incurred but not yet paid, such as wages or unpaid bills.
  • The company can accurately depict its financial position by recording them as assets.

Prepaid rent refers to the advance payment made by a tenant to a landlord for renting a property. It represents the portion of rent that has been paid in advance for a future period. The software directly integrates with your bank account, so whenever a business expense is made, the appropriate journal entry is automatically created. On the accrual basis of accounting, expenses get recognized when they are used, consumed, utilized, or have expired, not when they get made. A prepaid expense (also known as prepayment) is a payment made in advance for an expense that hasn’t occurred yet.

Example – Journal Entry for Prepaid Salary or Wages

Additionally, expenses like taxes and leased equipment can also be considered the same. For prepaid expenses, the two main accounts you’ll need to focus on are assets and expenses. Working capital, cash flows, collections opportunities, and other critical metrics depend on timely and accurate processes.

At each time that a portion of the expense is allocated, then it’s also deducted from the total cost that was first denoted in the asset account. The reason that prepaid expenses exist is because of accounting methods. To exemplify, the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) notes that expenses are to be recorded in the same accounting period as when the asset delivers its benefits. The initial entry to record a prepaid expense only affects the balance sheet. Therefore, there will be no changes in the totals for current assets or total assets.

Why are Prepaid Expenses a Current Asset?

The payment that reflects a prepaid expense will be debited in the prepaid account and then credited in the cash account. usually provide value to a company over an extended period of time, such as insurance or prepaid rent. Many types of business insurance are paid as a lump sum in advance of a specific coverage period. Similarly, when a business signs a rental agreement with a landlord, it may include a stipulation to prepay a certain number of months’ rent upfront. From a company’s point of view, an increase in prepaid expenses is a debit.

The subject matter discussed on Role of Financial Management in Law Firm Success, accrued income and income received in advance is one of the core studies for accounts. A good grasp on the matter is beneficial as the expenses and the incomes together form a business transaction and a financial event to take place accordingly. The adjusting journal entry is done each month, and at the end of the year, when the insurance policy has no future economic benefits, the prepaid insurance balance would be 0.

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