Bookkeeping is both a science and an art. It is based upon custom and utility, the principles of which have been formulated into general laws, which have been adopted throughout the business world. In this sense it is a science. The recording and mechanical part, including the accuracy in arrangement of business transactions, is the art. To become efficient in both the science and the art it is necessary to master the principles and laws and apply them with accuracy and rapidity.
Bookkeeping is practiced in two ways or methods, which are known as single and double entry. In opening up a business, the business itself is the first thing to be considered ; the recording or specifying the transactions is secondary. The former will determine largely the method to be followed.
Every man, whether he be a laboring man, farmer, tradesman, or professional man, should keep a record of all dealings which require a record of the receipt and expenditure of cash. Every wage-earner should take a few minutes at the close of each day to make a record of his cash, as well as the articles he has purchased during the day and had charged. When this is done there will be great satisfaction in knowing how the money has been spent, and offtimes much assistance in checking needless expenditure. A farmer can make use of a simple form of bookkeeping in keeping a record of the cash he receives for the different products of the farm, and the cash ex-pended for improvements', for material, and for labor. It will not be difficult for him to determine with great certainty which department of farming that he has tried yields the best returns. He should open an account with each one of his laborers, entering under the name a memorandum of the terms of the agreement, with the former address of the employee. In keeping an account with a person to whom goods are sold, when the account is paid in full it should be closed. If only a part is paid, credit should be given and the account closed, with the balance brought forward. A farmer can also, as we have said, keep an account with any department of his work, such as his wheat field, his corn field, or his cattle, charging to each the labor, seed, fertilizer, etc., and crediting to it the returns from the sale of the crop and the value of such portions as may have been used on the farm. In the same way, a mechanic should keep an account of each piece of work that he undertakes, especially if it be on contract, that he may ascertain the amount of his profit or loss. This will be a good guide to him for future estimates. These accounts are commonly called Property Accounts, and may be kept in the same form as used for Personal Accounts, that is, accounts kept with individuals.