How to Read Financial Statements: A Beginners Guide

reading balance sheets for dummies

So for the asset side, the accounts are classified typically from most liquid to least liquid. For the liabilities side, the accounts are organized from short- to long-term borrowings and other obligations. Annual reports often incorporate editorial and storytelling in the form of images, infographics, and a letter from the CEO to describe corporate activities, benchmarks, and achievements.

They can be either current liabilities, which are due within one year, or long-term liabilities, which are due after one year. If a company doesn’t have cash on hand to cover its day-to-day operations, it’s probably on shaky ground. Use the following formulas to find out whether a company has plenty of liquid (easily converted to cash) assets. By far, the easiest, and most accurate way to produce a balance sheet is to use accounting software. By tracking all of your transactions in your accounting software application, you can have an accurate balance sheet in seconds. Finally, you’ll need to calculate the amount of money you have invested in the company.

Profit and Loss Statement (Income Statement)

Financial ratios are used to calculate the business’s financial position, including liquidity and gearing ratios. Banks and suppliers use them to determine if they can offer a loan, overdraft or credit facility. Toggl’s balance sheet template gives an overview of your balances in one single view.

reading balance sheets for dummies

When a company makes a profit, the amount of profit is added to shareholders’ equity. When a company loses money, the amount of the loss is subtracted reading balance sheets for dummies from shareholders’ equity. Liabilities are payments that a company is obligated to make in the future, such as loans or lease payments.


Please refer to the Payment & Financial Aid page for further information. Our easy online application is free, and no special documentation is required. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age, proficient in English, and committed to learning and engaging with fellow participants throughout the program. Regularly reviewing your debt-to-equity ratio will help keep you from becoming overleveraged, which can make attracting investors more challenging and financing more costly. This gives you a percentage showing how much the company is financed by debt. As a small business, you should keep a fixed asset register to record all the information about the asset.

Kenneth W. Boyd has 30 years of experience in accounting and financial services. He is a four-time Dummies book author, a blogger, and a video host on accounting and finance topics. This article will teach you more about how to read an income statement. The mortgage company wants you to put 20% down, and they’ll finance the remaining 80%.

A Guide to Computerised Accounting

Assets are on the top or left, and below them or to the right are the company’s liabilities and shareholders’ equity. A balance sheet is also always in balance, where the value of the assets equals the combined value of the liabilities and shareholders’ equity. It’s important to note that how a balance sheet is formatted differs depending on where an organization is based. The example above complies with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which companies outside the United States follow. In this balance sheet, accounts are listed from least liquid to most liquid (or how quickly they can be converted into cash).

reading balance sheets for dummies

When analyzed over time or comparatively against competing companies, managers can better understand ways to improve the financial health of a company. Shareholder equity is the money attributable to the owners of a business or its shareholders. It is also known as net assets since it is equivalent to the total assets of a company minus its liabilities or the debt it owes to non-shareholders.

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