Uncovering Accrued Expenses: Benefits, And Drawbacks

Farwah Jafri | April 27 2023

What are accrued expenses? 

An accrued expense is an accounting term that refers to an expense that a company has incurred but has yet to pay for or record in its books. In other words, it is an expense recognized in the company’s financial statements, but payment still needs to be made.  

Accrued expenses can arise from various activities, such as interest expense on loans, salaries or wages owed to employees, utilities or rent that has been used but has yet to be paid for, and other similar expenses.   

Accrued expenses are recorded as liabilities in a company’s balance sheet until the amount is paid off. They are removed from the balance sheet and reflected in the company’s income statement as an expense.   

Accrued expenses refer to expenses that a company has incurred but has yet to pay for or record in its books of accounts. These expenses are important for companies because they help accurately represent a company’s financial position. Here’s a more detailed look at accrued expenses and their advantages and disadvantages.  

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What is the importance of accrued expenses  

Accurate financial statements

Accrued expenses ensure that financial statements accurately reflect a company’s expenses for a period. With accrued expenses, financial statements might reflect the true financial position of a company.  

Matching principle

Accrued expenses help companies adhere to the matching principle in accounting. This principle requires companies to record expenses in the same period as the revenue generated by those expenses.  

Better decision-making

Accrued expenses allow companies to make better decisions regarding the allocation of their resources. This information helps in managing cash flow and planning for the future.  

Advantages of accrued expenses

Accurate financial statements

As mentioned earlier, accrued expenses help companies provide a more accurate representation of their financial position.  

Better decision-making

The information provided by accrued expenses helps companies make better decisions regarding their resources, which can lead to better financial outcomes.  

Improved budgeting

Companies can better budget for future expenses by accurately recording accrued expenses, improving their overall financial performance.  

Disadvantages of accrued expenses


If a company fails to record accrued expenses accurately, it can mismanage financial resources, leading to cash flow problems.  

Increased liabilities

Accrued expenses can increase a company’s liabilities, negatively impacting its creditworthiness. 


Accrued expenses can be complex, and accurately recording them requires high financial expertise. A company needs this expertise to record accrued expenses accurately.  

Examples of accrued expenses

Interest expenses on loans that a company still needs to pay.  

Salaries and wages that employees have earned but have yet to be paid.  

Taxes are owed but still need to be paid.  

Utility bills that still need to be paid.  

Rent that is due but has yet to be paid.  

For example, let’s say that a company provides services to a client in December but receives payment in January. The company incurred expenses related to providing those services in December, even though it has yet to receive payment. The company would record these expenses as accrued expenses on its balance sheet for December.  

Another example could be a company with a salaried employee paid at the end of each month. If the end of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, the employee’s paycheck may be processed on the next business day. In this case, the company would accrue the employee’s salary expense for the days worked in the current month, but it still needs to be paid as a liability on its balance sheet.  

In both examples, the accrued expenses represent a liability the company owes and will need to pay in the future. By recording accrued expenses, the company can ensure that its financial statements accurately reflect its financial obligations, even if they still need to be paid. 

Accrued Expenses vs. Accounts Payable 

Accrued expenses and accounts payable are two different types of liabilities that a company can have on its financial statements. Although they are similar and often confused, there are some key differences between them.  

Accrued expenses refer to expenses a company has incurred but has not paid for.   

On the other hand, accounts payable are amounts that a company owes to its suppliers for goods or services that have been received but have yet to be paid. Accounts payable are recognized on the balance sheet as a liability. Unlike accrued expenses, accounts payable are typically due within a short period, usually 30 to 90 days (about three months). Examples of accounts payable include invoices from suppliers for raw materials, utility bills, and other expenses.  

The main difference between accrued expenses and accounts payable is the timing of when they are recognized in the financial statements. Accrued expenses are recognized when the expense is incurred, while accounts payable are recognized when a supplier receives an invoice.  

Another difference between the two is the nature of the expenses they represent. Accrued expenses are generally related to ongoing operating expenses, while accounts payable are related to specific purchases of goods or services.  


In conclusion, accrued expenses play an essential role in accounting as they help to match expenses with revenue in the correct period, thus providing a more accurate picture of a company’s financial performance. Accrued expenses also help businesses to make better financial decisions and to avoid overestimating profits. However, accruing expenses have potential drawbacks, including the risk of overestimating liabilities and understating profits. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to carefully manage and accurately record their accrued expenses to ensure that they are making informed financial decisions. While there are benefits and drawbacks to accruing expenses, understanding how to account for them properly is essential for any business looking to maintain financial stability and growth. 

Also Read: How To Reduce Your Startup’s Operating Expenses

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Author Bio

Farwah is the Product Owner of Monily. She has an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, UK. She is passionate about helping businesses overcome challenges that hamper their growth, which is why she is working at Monily to facilitate entrepreneurs to efficiently manage business finances and stay focused on growth.