Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Vocational/Bookkeeping

General Conference
Skill Level 2
Year of Introduction: 1937

1. What is the difference between bookkeeping and accounting?


Bookkeeping refers only to the actual posting of financial transactions into the various journals and account ledgers (e.g., collecting the raw financial data). This provides the underlying foundation for a system of accounting, which accumulates and organizes the raw data into useful information.

2. Define the following terms


a. Asset


An asset is an economic resource owned by a person or company that is expected to provide them future benefits. Examples include, but are not limited to, cash, accounts receivable, supplies, furniture, land, and buildings.

b. Liability


A liability is an obligation that will have to be satisfied at some time in the future. Satisfaction of the liability may be by payment of money, transfer of other assets, or the performance of a service.

Example: Company A bought $10,000 worth of widgets from Company B. Company B says that Company A has until the end of the month to pay the $10,000. Company A has a $10,000 liability to Company B.

Example: Amy sends $25 to Reader's Digest for a year's magazine subscription. Reader's Digest then has a liability to Amy to send her a year's worth of magazines.

c. Credit


A credit is an entry on the right side of an account. It represents an increase in a liability, owner's equity, or income and represents a decrease in an asset.

d. Debit


A debit is an entry on the left side of an account. It represents an increase in an asset or expense and represents a decrease in a liability or owner's equity.

e. Posting


Information about transactions is collected in journals. Typically a business will have a Cash Receipts Journal, a Cash Disbursements Journal, and a General Journal (where transactions affecting accounts other than cash are accumulated). Posting is the process of transferring the debits and credits recorded in the journals to individual accounts.

Example: At the end of the week the Cash Disbursements Journal is totaled. Checks totaling $3,694.32 were written that week. $2,075.00 of those checks were written to pay bills (Accounts Payable) and $1,000 was written in salary checks to employees. The remaining $619.32 was used to purchase office supplies. The bookkeeper would post a debit of $2,075.00 to Accounts Payable, a debit of $1,000 to Salary Expense, a debit of $619.32 to Office Supplies Expense, and a credit to Checking Account of $2,075.00.

f. Trial balance


A trial balance is a listing of all the business's accounts with their balance at a specific date and time. It is used as a check to determine that both sides of each double-entry transaction have been posted. Asset and expense accounts (accounts that normally have a debit balance) are added together in one column. Liabilities, owner's equity, and income accounts (accounts that normally have a credit balance) are added together in another column. If the bookkeeper has added and subtracted properly, the two columns should have equal totals.

g. Voucher


A voucher is basically a "permission slip" authorizing a transaction. It details the transaction approved and is signed by one or more company officials with authority to approve the transaction. At a minimum the voucher would show what item(s) may be purchased and at what price per unit.

h. Invoice


An invoice is an itemized bill with detailed list of goods shipped or services provided, each with their individual costs. For example, the invoice might show that a company bought 10 trashcans @ $15.00 a piece and 2 packages of trash can liners at $7.00.

i. Interest


Interest is a charge made for the use of money. It is usually expressed in an annual percentage rate (APR). One may pay interest (such as on a mortgage loan) or earn interest (such as from money deposited in a savings account).

3. What is the difference between double-entry bookkeeping and single-entry bookkeeping?


In single-entry bookkeeping, the effect of a transaction on one account only is recorded. For example, if a business spent $7 million to buy a new office building, a $7 million decrease to cash would be recorded. This could be compared to when an individual writes a check and records it in his or her checkbook.

Single-entry bookkeeping is not a prevalent method used in business. All definitions in the section above presume that double-entry bookkeeping is being discussed.

Double-entry bookkeeping recognizes that a transaction has several effects. While the purchase of the office building mentioned above did decrease the business's cash by $7 million it also increased the business's assets by $7 million—they now own an office building that hopefully is worth $7 million.

(Note that it is more likely that the business would not have $7 million cash on hand and would obtain a mortgage loan for the purchase. Cash was used in this example for simplicity's sake.)

4. What education is necessary to be a bookkeeper? What other education is helpful to a bookkeeping career?


One could become a bookkeeper having only taken a high school bookkeeping course, given the computer software currently available. This would be especially true of a bookkeeping position at a very small business. A two-year degree at a technical college would probably open up bookkeeping jobs at a somewhat larger company or as a paraprofessional at an accounting firm. Other courses that further one's understanding of business are helpful in advancing in one's career. These would include economics and marketing, which are part of the course work needed to earn one's Bachelor's degree in accounting.


The jobs of Accounts Payable Clerk and Payroll Clerk would be quite similar to that of a bookkeeper. The difference is that the Clerk would be responsible for recording bookkeeping entries for one specific aspect of the company and would report to the Bookkeeper.

Some businesses, particularly very small ones, may have an employee whose duties combine those generally performed by a bookkeeper with those performed by a secretary.

A person who has enjoyed being a bookkeeper may well enjoy furthering their education and becoming an accountant. The job accountant can cover many different types of jobs including C.F.O. (Chief Financial Officer) of a company, a C.P.A. (Certified Public Accountant) auditing businesses' financial statements, a tax return preparer, or a financial advisor to wealthy individuals.

6. Conduct an interview with your church treasurer, asking the following questions

  • a. How much time do you spend each week at your job as church treasurer?
  • b. What do you do with the money collected in the offering plates?
  • c. How do you keep track of who contributed how much money?
  • d. What money is sent to the conference?
  • e. What money is kept in our local church?
  • f. Are your records ever reviewed by an accountant? How often?
  • g. How do you report the church finances to the church board?
  • h. How do you report the church finances to the conference?

Make arrangements with your church treasurer well ahead of time so that she has plenty of time to work you into her schedule. Be flexible in scheduling your guest's time with your club. It may be necessary to have "honor time" earlier or later in the meeting to accommodate her schedule. Remember (and remind your Pathfinders) that she is doing you a favor by taking time out of her schedule to help you with this requirement. You may wish to provide the questions to her in advance so she doesn't have to come up with the answers on the spot. Write the questions down on index cards and pass them out to your Pathfinders so that they can take turns asking them.

About the Author


Virginia Thomas, C.P.A.,received her B.S. in Accounting from George Mason University in 1988. Her work experience includes public accounting firms Laventhol & Horwath and Hariton, Mancuso, & Jones.