Debits and Credits: The Ultimate Showdown for Beginners

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Decoding Debits and Credits

Ever wondered how accountants keep track of all those numbers? They use a special “language” – the language of debits and credits.

It might sound intimidating, but fear not!

This article will be your Rosetta Stone, helping you crack the code and understand these financial terms.

Debits and Credits

Think about It Like a Double-Entry System

Imagine your business as a giant checkbook.

Debits and credits are like the two sides of each entry.

Everything that affects your business finances gets recorded on both sides, ensuring a balanced picture.

Debits: They Got Left

  • Think Left Side: Remember the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity)? Debits typically flow to the left side of the equation, which represents the resources your business owns (Assets) or owes (Liabilities).
  • Increases & Decreases: Here’s a twist – debits can sometimes mean increases and sometimes decreases, depending on the account. It might seem confusing, but there’s a pattern:
    • Assets & Expenses: Debits generally increase these accounts. Think of adding money to your checking account (an Asset) – a debit increases its balance. Similarly, a debit increases an expense account, like recording the cost of supplies you buy.
    • Liabilities & Equity: Debits typically decrease these accounts. Imagine paying off a loan (Liability) – a debit reduces the amount you owe. Likewise, debiting an owner’s equity account might reflect withdrawing money from the business.

Credits: They Go Right

  • Think Right Side: Credits typically flow to the right side of the accounting equation, which represents sources of ownership (Owner’s Equity) or claims against the business (Liabilities).
  • Increases & Decreases: Similar to debits, credits can also represent increases or decreases depending on the account:
    • Revenue & Liabilities: Credits generally increase these accounts. Imagine a customer paying you for a service (Revenue) – a credit increases your revenue. Likewise, a credit increases a liability account, like recording a loan you take out from a bank.
    • Assets & Equity: Credits typically decrease these accounts. Think of buying equipment (an Asset) with cash – a credit reduces your cash balance (another Asset). Similarly, crediting an owner’s equity account might reflect the owner investing money into the business.

Real-World Examples Of Debits and Credits

Let’s see debits and credits in action with some user-friendly examples:

  • Example 1: You buy office supplies for $100 with cash. Here’s the breakdown:
    • Debit: Office Supplies ($100) (Asset increased)
    • Credit: Cash ($100) (Asset decreased)
  • Example 2: You earn $200 from a customer for your services. Breakdown:
    • Debit: Cash ($200) (Asset increased)
    • Credit: Service Revenue ($200) (Revenue increased)
  • Example 3: You pay rent of $500. Breakdown:
    • Debit: Rent Expense ($500) (Expense increased)
    • Credit: Cash ($500) (Asset decreased)


Debits and credits might seem complex at first, but they’re like the building blocks of accounting.

Understanding them allows you to “speak the language” of business finances and gain valuable insights into your company’s health.

Remember, debits typically affect the left side (Assets & Liabilities) and can either increase or decrease them, while credits typically affect the right side (Revenue & Equity) and can also increase or decrease them depending on the account.

With practice, these terms will become second nature, empowering you to understand your financial statements with confidence!

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