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Demystifying Encumbrance Accounting: Definition And Recording

PPT Accounting for Governmental Operating Activities—Illustrative

Demystifying Encumbrance Accounting: <a href="">Definition</a> and Recording

As a business owner or accountant, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of encumbrance accounting. This accounting method helps you track and manage your financial commitments, ensuring that you have enough funds to cover future expenses. In this article, we will delve into the definition of encumbrance accounting and explore how to effectively record and manage encumbrances.

What is Encumbrance Accounting?

Encumbrance accounting is a method used to track and record commitments made by an organization for future expenses. These commitments can include purchase orders, contracts, or any other type of financial obligation that has not yet been fulfilled. By recording encumbrances, businesses can accurately forecast their financial obligations and ensure that they have sufficient funds to cover these commitments.

Why is Encumbrance Accounting Important?

Effective encumbrance accounting is essential for financial planning and budgeting. It provides businesses with a clear picture of their future financial obligations and helps them make informed decisions regarding resource allocation. By accurately recording and tracking encumbrances, businesses can avoid overspending and ensure that they have enough funds to cover their commitments.

How to Record Encumbrances

Recording encumbrances involves several steps to ensure accurate and effective tracking of financial commitments. Let’s explore the process in detail:

1. Identify and Document Financial Commitments

The first step in recording encumbrances is to identify and document all financial commitments. This can include purchase orders, contracts, or any other obligations that have not yet been fulfilled. It is crucial to gather all the necessary information, such as the amount, description, and expected fulfillment date, for each commitment.

2. Create Encumbrance Accounts

Next, create encumbrance accounts in your accounting system. These accounts will be used to record the financial commitments made by your organization. It is important to categorize these accounts appropriately to ensure accurate tracking and reporting.

3. Record Encumbrances

Once you have identified the financial commitments and created the encumbrance accounts, record the encumbrances in your accounting system. Enter the necessary information for each commitment, such as the amount, description, and expected fulfillment date. Be sure to allocate the encumbrance to the appropriate account and ensure accurate tracking.

4. Monitor and Adjust Encumbrances

Regularly monitor and adjust the encumbrances recorded in your accounting system. This involves updating the encumbrance amounts as commitments are fulfilled or modified. By doing so, you can maintain accurate records of your financial obligations and make informed decisions regarding resource allocation.

Benefits of Encumbrance Accounting

Encumbrance accounting offers several benefits for businesses. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Budget Planning: Encumbrance accounting helps businesses accurately forecast and plan their budgets by providing a clear picture of future financial obligations.
  • Resource Allocation: By tracking encumbrances, businesses can effectively allocate their resources and ensure that they have enough funds to cover their commitments.
  • Financial Control: Encumbrance accounting provides businesses with better financial control by allowing them to monitor and manage their financial commitments.
  • Accurate Reporting: Recording encumbrances ensures accurate financial reporting, allowing businesses to provide transparent and reliable information to stakeholders.


Encumbrance accounting is a vital aspect of financial management for businesses. By accurately recording and tracking financial commitments, businesses can effectively plan their budgets, allocate resources, and maintain financial control. Understanding the process of recording encumbrances and the benefits it offers can help businesses make informed decisions and ensure financial stability.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between encumbrance accounting and accrual accounting?

While both encumbrance accounting and accrual accounting involve tracking financial obligations, they serve different purposes. Encumbrance accounting focuses on future commitments, while accrual accounting records revenue and expenses as they are incurred, regardless of the payment timing.

2. Can encumbrances be modified or canceled?

Yes, encumbrances can be modified or canceled if there are changes in the initial commitments. It is important to update the encumbrance records accordingly to maintain accurate financial information.

3. How often should encumbrances be monitored?

Encumbrances should be monitored regularly to ensure accurate tracking of financial commitments. It is recommended to review and update encumbrances on a monthly or quarterly basis.

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