Understanding Accrued Expenses: Definition, Examples, and Journal Entries

Accrued expenses are an essential concept in accounting that plays a crucial role in accurately reflecting a company's financial position. In this article, we will delve into the topic of accrued expenses, exploring their definition, examples, and the journal entries associated with them. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of accrued expenses and their impact on financial statements.

What Are Accrued Expenses?

Accrued expenses refer to costs that have been incurred by a company but have not yet been paid or recorded. These expenses are recognized in the accounting records to ensure accurate financial reporting. Accrued expenses typically arise when a company has received goods or services but has not yet received an invoice or made a payment.

Accrued Expenses Definition and Significance

Accrued expenses are recognized in the financial statements to match expenses with the period in which they were incurred, regardless of when the payment is made. By recording accrued expenses, a company ensures that its financial statements provide a more accurate representation of its financial position and performance.

Accrued Expenses Examples

To better understand accrued expenses, let's consider a few examples. One common example is accrued salaries, where employees have worked but have not yet received their paychecks. Another example is accrued interest expense on a loan that has been incurred but not yet paid. Additional examples include utility bills, rent, and professional services that have been received but not yet invoiced.

Accounting for Accrued Expenses: Journal Entries

To record accrued expenses, companies make adjusting journal entries. These entries are made at the end of an accounting period to reflect the expenses incurred but not yet paid. The journal entry for accrued expenses typically debits an expense account and credits a liability account. For instance, an accrued salary expense would be debited to the "Salary Expense" account and credited to the "Accrued Salaries Payable" account.

Accrued Expenses vs. Accounts Payable

It's essential to differentiate between accrued expenses and accounts payable. While both represent unpaid obligations, accounts payable typically arise from receiving an invoice from a supplier, whereas accrued expenses arise from costs incurred without an invoice. Accounts payable are short-term liabilities, while accrued expenses may include both short-term and long-term liabilities.

Accrued Expenses and the Balance Sheet

Accrued expenses appear on a company's balance sheet as current liabilities. They are reported under the "Accrued Expenses Payable" or a similar account, indicating the amount owed but not yet paid. The recognition of accrued expenses ensures that the balance sheet accurately reflects the company's obligations.

Section 7: Adjusting Process and Accrued Expenses

Before the adjusting process, accrued expenses are not reflected in the financial statements. This adjustment allows for accurate recognition of expenses in the period they were incurred. By making the necessary adjusting entries, a company ensures that its financial statements adhere to the matching principle.


Accrued expenses play a vital role in accounting, enabling companies to accurately record and report their financial obligations. By recognizing accrued expenses, businesses align their financial statements with the periods in which the expenses were incurred. Through the appropriate journal entries and adjustments, companies can provide a more accurate representation of their financial position and performance.

By providing a comprehensive overview of accrued expenses, this article addresses the definition, examples, journal entries, and significance of this important accounting concept. Understanding accrued expenses is crucial for maintaining accurate financial records and ensuring compliance with accounting principles.