Balance Sheet Savvy

Unveiling the Hidden Costs: Understanding Depreciation and Business Expenses

Depreciation: Understanding the Cost of Doing Business

In the complex world of finance and accounting, there are many terms that can leave business owners scratching their heads. One such term is depreciation expense.

It is often misunderstood and overlooked, but it plays a crucial role in determining the true cost of doing business. In this article, we will delve into the concept of depreciation expense, exploring its importance, its impact on financial statements, and how it affects the overall profitability of a company.

Depreciation Expense

Systematic Allocation

Depreciation expense refers to the systematic allocation of the cost of a depreciable asset over its useful life. When a company purchases a tangible asset like equipment or machinery, it is unlikely to retain its initial value indefinitely.

Over time, wear and tear, obsolescence, and other factors cause the asset to lose value or “depreciate.” To accurately reflect this decrease in value, accountants use depreciation expense to allocate the asset’s cost over its useful life. This systematic allocation has several benefits.

Firstly, it provides a more accurate representation of the asset’s true cost. By spreading the cost over its useful life, the financial statements reflect a more realistic picture of the business’s expenses.

This helps business owners make informed decisions about the replacement or repair of equipment.

Manufacturing Process and Cost

Depreciation expense also ties in closely with the manufacturing process. When a company produces goods for sale, it incurs various costs, including direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead.

These costs are collectively known as product costs and form part of the inventory cost. However, to accurately calculate the cost of goods sold, the business needs to account for depreciation expense.

Let’s take a hypothetical scenario. Imagine a manufacturing company producing widgets.

The factory’s equipment and machinery are crucial in the production process. As the machines are used, their value decreases.

Without capturing this decline in value through depreciation expense, the company’s inventory cost would be underestimated. This, in turn, would lead to an inflated gross profit and possibly misleading financial statements.

Business Assets and Expenses

Accounting for Business Assets

Depreciation expense is not limited to manufacturing equipment. It applies to all depreciable assets owned by a business, including office furniture, vehicles, and buildings.

Accounting for these assets allows for the recognition of the ongoing costs associated with their use. When determining depreciation expense, businesses need to consider factors such as the asset’s initial cost, its expected useful life, and any potential residual value.

The depreciation expense is spread over multiple accounting periods, reflecting the gradual wear and tear of the asset. By doing so, businesses can account for the cost of using their assets over time accurately.

Moreover, this systematic allocation helps align the reporting of expenses with the corresponding revenues earned from the assets.

Other Expenses

While depreciation is a significant expense, it is not the only one that businesses need to consider. Selling, general, and administrative expenses, commonly known as SG&A, form a crucial part of a company’s overall cost structure.

SG&A expenses include costs such as sales commissions, advertising, rent, and utility bills. Unlike depreciation expense, which is directly related to the use of specific assets, SG&A expenses are incurred regardless of the production or sales volume.

These expenses are essential for the day-to-day operations of a business and are deducted from revenues to determine the net income. In addition to these operating expenses, businesses may also encounter non-operating income.

This income includes gains from investments, interest earned, or any other income that is not derived from the company’s primary operations. Non-operating income helps contribute to a company’s overall profitability but should be clearly distinguished from the operating activities.


Understanding depreciation expense and its impact on financial statements is crucial for any business owner. By systematically allocating the cost of depreciable assets, businesses can accurately reflect their true expenses and make informed decisions.

Additionally, accounting for other expenses such as SG&A and recognizing non-operating income ensures a comprehensive understanding of a company’s financial performance. Armed with this knowledge, business owners can navigate the complex world of finance with confidence and set their ventures up for success.

Administrative and

Selling Expenses

Administrative Expenses

While depreciation expense captures the gradual decline in value of tangible assets, businesses must also account for administrative expenses. These expenses are incurred to support the overall functioning of a company and include costs associated with buildings, furnishings, and general administrative personnel.

One significant administrative expense is the cost of maintaining buildings. Whether a company owns or leases its office space, there are ongoing expenses to consider.

This can encompass rent, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. For businesses that own their buildings, depreciation expense may also come into play.

Similar to the depreciation of manufacturing equipment, buildings are subject to wear and tear and lose value over time. Furnishings, such as desks, chairs, and office equipment, are also considered administrative expenses.

While these items may not directly contribute to revenue generation, they are essential for creating a functional and productive work environment. Like other depreciable assets, these furnishings have a useful life and will gradually lose their value over time.

In addition to physical assets, general administrative personnel costs are also part of administrative expenses. This can include salaries and benefits for employees such as office managers, administrative assistants, and support staff.

These individuals play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth day-to-day operations of a company. Their salaries and benefits need to be accounted for to accurately determine the overall cost of doing business.

Selling Expenses

In addition to administrative expenses, businesses also incur selling expenses as part of their operations. These expenses are related to the activities involved in the sales process, from top executives to the sales staff.

Managing and accounting for selling expenses is necessary to determine the true cost of selling products or services. One key selling expense is related to automobiles used by top executives.

These company cars are often provided to senior management as part of their compensation package. While they may serve both personal and business purposes, the company incurs the cost of purchasing, maintaining, and insuring these vehicles.

These expenses need to be recognized as part of the overall cost of doing business. Sales staff, including sales representatives and account managers, also contribute to selling expenses.

These individuals play a vital role in generating revenue by reaching out to potential customers, closing deals, and building relationships. Companies must account for sales staff salaries, commissions, travel expenses, and any other costs directly associated with their sales activities.

Collectively, these selling expenses are considered part of the broader category of selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses. SG&A expenses encompass costs related to all non-production activities that support a company’s operations.

This includes marketing and advertising expenses, which involve activities aimed at promoting products or services to potential customers. Marketing and advertising expenses play a crucial role in getting a company’s brand and offerings in front of target audiences.

Whether it’s producing television commercials, running online advertisements, or participating in trade shows, there are costs associated with these promotional activities. These expenses should be carefully tracked and recorded to accurately reflect the overall cost of generating sales.

By accounting for both administrative and selling expenses, businesses can gain a better understanding of their cost structure and profitability. These expenses, along with depreciation and other operating costs, help determine the net income, which measures the company’s profitability after all expenses have been accounted for.


Accurately accounting for administrative and selling expenses is essential for understanding the true cost of doing business. Administrative expenses, including building maintenance, furnishings, and personnel costs, contribute to the overall operating expenses.

Selling expenses, such as automobile costs for top executives and salaries for the sales staff, also add to the company’s cost structure. These expenses, along with other operating costs, help calculate the net income, providing a clear picture of a company’s profitability.

By carefully tracking and managing these expenses, businesses can make informed decisions and optimize their financial performance. In conclusion, understanding the concepts of depreciation expense, administrative expenses, and selling expenses is crucial for businesses to accurately assess their true cost of doing business.

Depreciation allows for the systematic allocation of asset costs over their useful lives, providing a realistic view of expenses. Administrative expenses encompass buildings, furnishings, and general administrative personnel, while selling expenses include automobile costs for executives and sales staff salaries.

Including these expenses in financial calculations ensures an accurate reflection of a company’s profitability. By carefully managing and accounting for these costs, businesses can make informed decisions and optimize their financial performance.

So, don’t overlook the importance of these expenses they can be the key to understanding the true cost of running a successful business.

Popular Posts