Skip to content
Single Entry Bookkeeping: A complete Guide

Single-Entry Bookkeeping: Everything You Need to Know

Many small businesses and home-based businesses sometimes do their own bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is a great way to keep track of your finances, but it can also be a bit challenging for business owners. The purpose of this guide is to provide a complete understanding of single-entry bookkeeping, its benefits, and how to use it correctly.

Maintaining accurate financial records is essential to business success. Fortunately, businesses have a multitude of means to control their cash flows. Single entry accounting has been an extremely popular technique in accounting for both individuals and small business enterprises.

What is a single entry bookkeeping system?

A single entry system is a bookkeeping system where only one side of the double-entry accounting equation is ever recorded. This means that only income or expenses are recorded and not the changes in assets or liabilities. The accounting equation emphasizes assets are always equal to liabilities plus owner’s equity.

Since the single entry system does not track assets or liabilities, you do not track accounts receivable or accounts payable. Instead, it provides a manual accounting system where your record keeping is based on cash receipts and cash payments.

Accounting Method

The single entry accounting system uses cash basis accounting rather than accrual accounting. This means it can only report the cash balance of a transaction and will reflect the transactions that hit the bank statement. There are no I-O-U’s with this type of bookkeeping system.

However, the double entry accounting system can either be cash basis or accrual accounting. It allows you to see the full financial position of your company. This is beneficial when you want to generate financial statements such as the income statement and balance sheet.

You can generate a manual income statement in the single entry bookkeeping system but not a balance sheet. This is because only one entry is made for each transaction, which records the total amount of money involved in that transaction. This system is simple and easy to use, but it does not provide as much information as double entry accounting.

Although it can be a straightforward way to keep track of your finances, it can also be easy to make mistakes.

How does a single-entry system work?

In single-entry bookkeeping, the cash account is used to record your income and your expenditure. You can use a cash book to show your business’s cash flow ins and outs or use a simple excel sheet with your initial bank balance recording income and expenses. Either way, start by adding the income you received and subtracting your expenses.

Manual calculations with single entry bookkeeping

How to do single-entry bookkeeping?

In single entry accounting, the finances are traditionally stored on a table in a cash book. Typically cash books include data including the date and description of the transaction, the amount of the transaction, and the balance. 

A single entry accounting system is a way of keeping track of your money in a simple form. You just write down how much money you have at the beginning of the day, and then write down what you spent it on with the dollar amount. You add up all of your expenses at the end of the day and subtract them from your cash balance. That’s how much money you have left.

A single entry bookkeeping system keeps track of how much money you have by recording every time you spend or receive money. You would write down how much money you have at the beginning of the day and then write down every time you spent or received money. This would help you determine how much money you have left at the end of the day.

How to get started with single-entry bookkeeping

To get started with single-entry bookkeeping, first create a list of all your business expenses and income. Next, track each transaction as it occurs, recording the date, amount, and purpose of the transaction. This will help you keep track of your company’s financial health and make sure you are filing taxes correctly.

Single entry. Bookkeeping. Cashbook Example

A single entry bookkeeping system is one in which only one side of the ledger is used. This means that all transactions are recorded only as debits or credits and not as a combination. A cash book is an example of a single entry accounting system. Transactions are recorded as they occur, with the date, description of the transaction, and the amount being debited or credited.

Please check a sample cashbook/spreadsheet below. 

Cash Book Example

The types of transactions that can be recorded in a single-entry bookkeeping system

In a single-entry bookkeeping system, the only type of transaction recorded is a cash transaction. This means that any time money changes hands, it needs to be recorded in the books. For example, if you sell a product to a customer, you would record the sale as a cash transaction.

These transactions can be recorded as purchases, sales, payments, and receipts. They are recorded as debits and credits in the books, which helps to keep track of the business’s financial state. By recording these transactions in a single-entry system, companies can easily keep track of their expenses and income.

Closing the books: How do you close the books in a single-entry system?

In a single-entry system, the books are closed by recording the total amount of money coming in and the total amount that has gone out. This ensures that the total amount of money in the account is always accurate.

The benefits of single-entry bookkeeping system

The benefit of a single-entry bookkeeping system is that it is easy to use. With a single-entry bookkeeping system, all transactions are recorded in a single journal. This makes it easy to track all of your expenses and income. It also makes it easy to spot discrepancies between your income and expenses.

The Disadvantages of single entry bookkeeping systems

There are several disadvantages of single entry bookkeeping systems. First, it is difficult to track or balance true income and expenses because only one side of the equation is recorded. Assets and liabilities are not tracked, and you must only use cash accounting, not accrual. This means credit card payments are recorded as accounts receivable, and payables are not shown until it is received or until the money is withdrawn. 

This can lead to inaccurate financial statements and difficulty in making informed business decisions. Additionally, it is more difficult to detect and investigate fraud if only one set of books is used. Finally, single entry bookkeeping systems are not as efficient as double entry systems. They can take more time to complete complex transactions since it uses manual accounting systems.

Complex transactions cannot be done with Single entry bookkeeping

The trial balance: How is a trial balance different in a single-entry system?

A trial balance is a document that lists all of a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity. It ensures that all the accounts on one side of the balance sheet equals the total of accounts on the other side. A trial balance is different in a single-entry system because only one column is reported, rather than two columns for debit and credit.

In other words, a trial balance is a list of all the accounts in a company’s ledger, with balances that have been totaled to zero. The purpose of a trial balance is to verify that the total of the debit balances is equal to the total of the credit balances. 

There is only one column for totals in a single-entry system, so the trial balance would not be as useful for verifying accuracy.

How is Single entry bookkeeping different from a double entry bookkeeping system

The single-entry system is a method of accounting that is used to record financial transactions in a ledger. The system consists of a single sheet of paper that records each transaction as a single entry. This system is simple, and small businesses with a few transactions can complete this in minutes. Because the system only records one transaction at a time, it is easy to track expenses and earnings in a less complex form.

Single entry bookkeeping is a simple system that records transactions in a book. Double entry bookkeeping is a more complex system that records transactions in two books. The main difference between single entry and double entry bookkeeping is that single entry accounting does not allow debits and credits to be combined. In contrast, double entry bookkeeping allows the combination of debits and credits.

A double entry bookkeeping system is a bookkeeping method where each transaction is recorded twice, once as an account entry and once as a debit or credit to one or more accounts. This system is the most common type of bookkeeping and is used in businesses with multiple accounts, such as a general ledger and petty cash account. In contrast, single entry bookkeeping systems are used in companies with only one account, such as a bank account.

Double entry bookkeeping systems record transactions in two columns and each transaction is also recorded in a corresponding journal. The advantage of double entry bookkeeping is that it allows for accurate financial tracking and analysis.


A single entry bookkeeping system is a system in which all transactions are recorded in a single journal. This system is simple and easy to use, but it does not provide as much detail as a double entry system.

Single-entry bookkeeping is a great way to keep track of your finances, but it does have some limitations. You can only use the cash basis method, and you cannot track accounts receivable or accounts payable.

Business owners who have complex accounting use double entry bookkeeping systems. Small business owners who have simple bookkeeping needs can use single entry accounting. 

1 thought on “Single-Entry Bookkeeping: A Complete Guide”

  1. Pingback: Day to Day Bookkeeping Setup, Processes, and Tasks

Comments are closed.