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Understanding the Three Golden Rules of Bookkeeping

Understanding the Three Golden Rules of Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping can sometimes seem complex, filled with intricate rules and principles. However, at its core, it boils down to three fundamental rules that guide all financial transactions. These are often referred to as the Three Golden Rules. At Keeping the Books, we believe that understanding these basics can help you gain better control over your finances and make informed business decisions. Let’s break down these essential principles.

1. Debit All Expenses and Losses, Credit All Incomes and Gains

This rule applies to the profit and loss account. When your business incurs an expense or suffers a loss, you debit that amount because it reduces your net income. Conversely, when your business earns income or gains from an asset sale, you credit that amount as it increases your net income.

Example: If you pay rent for your office space, you debit the rent expense account. If you receive payment for services rendered, you credit the sales revenue account.

2. Debit the Receiver, Credit the Giver

This rule is used for personal accounts, which involve transactions with individuals or entities. When someone gives you something, you credit them because they are the source of the value. When you give something to someone, you debit them because they are the recipient of the value.

Example: If you pay a supplier, you credit your bank account and debit the supplier’s account. If a customer pays you, you debit your bank account and credit the customer’s account.

3. Debit What Comes In, Credit What Goes Out

This rule applies to real accounts, which include assets and liabilities. When an asset enters your business, you debit the asset account because it increases the value of your assets. When an asset leaves your business, you credit the asset account because it decreases the value of your assets.

Example: If you purchase office equipment, you debit the office equipment account. If you sell an old piece of machinery, you credit the machinery account.

Why These Rules Matter

Understanding and applying these rules correctly ensures that your financial records are accurate and reliable. It helps maintain a clear picture of your business’s financial health, aiding in better decision-making and strategic planning. At Keeping the Books, we adhere to these principles to provide you with precise and trustworthy bookkeeping services.

How Keeping the Books Can Help

Navigating the world of bookkeeping can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. At Keeping the Books, we specialize in helping businesses throughout New England manage their finances effectively. Whether you need assistance with day-to-day bookkeeping, financial reporting, or strategic financial planning, our team is here to support you every step of the way.

Understanding the Three Golden Rules of Bookkeeping is just the beginning. Let us help you apply these principles to achieve your business goals and ensure long-term success. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in maintaining accurate and insightful financial records.


Keeping the Books serves businesses all over New England. Contact us today at (401) 358-1311.

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