Using a Cash Receipts Journal

Use this accounting journal to summarize
your receipts and track your customer payments.


A cash receipts journal is a basic accounting book of original entry that lists out your sales dollars received for a given month (or quarter or year).

If you are using an accounting software package such as QuickBooks, the software does the posting into an accounting journal automatically.

If you are just starting a small business or running a part time business, you may want to use a simple manual system, and you can do this easily yourself with Microsoft Excel or a simple 13-column pad of accounting paper, like this.

accounting journal


The example we’re going to look at first is a simple cash receipts journal for a small business. It will show us a lot about monies received.

Take a look:

Cash Receipts Journal example

accounting journal

For the columns, we’ve used the date, who the money was from, the invoice number being paid, and the amount of payment. Then we’ve added a few columns for our specific business use. In this example we fix cars, so we want to break our income into these categories – supplies, parts, labor, and miscellaneous.

If you were a caterer you might want to break your income into main dish, appetizers, drinks, etc. Or wedding, reunion, birthday, etc.

This is strictly your call, there is no right or wrong way to categorize your sales. You may want to lump together all the types of income and break it out by location instead. It all depends on how you want to see your income.

So we can add more detail to our cash receipts journal if we want to.

Take a look at this:

starting a small business

This cash receipts journal gives us more detail about our customers as well a breakdown of income by type of income.

We’ve added columns for each customer, so at the end of the month (or quarter or year) when we total our columns, we not only have the total income received, we also have the total income received from each customer, as well as the total attributable to supplies, parts, and labor. Or whatever income detail you’ve chosen to break out.

In your Cash Receipts Journal, you could use any categories you’d like to track. Maybe you have 2 stores – you could separate by store location. Or you could use salesperson as a category – and track sales per salesperson (if you don’t have too many, that is!)

You could also track payment type – cash, credit card, check. Or track sales by referral method – website, in-store, flyer, newspaper ad, etc.

There are just as many ways to track your sales as there are small businesses.

This is a simple, useful way to summarize income received, but also to analyze your income in a way that will help you run your small businesses.

If you’re just starting a small business, give some thought to what types of income you may have, and don’t be afraid to change your categories if you find a way that’s more useful to you.

Your journal can also be used to track customer payments. Throughout the month, as you post payments received, you could look thru your journal and make a tick mark next to the invoices being paid.

Then, every week or so, look for invoices from last month with no tick marks. Those invoices are unpaid, and may need a reminder invoice or a phone call.

Accounting journals like the cash receipts journal we talked about here, and the cash disbursements journal are just one piece of a simple, basic accounting system that anyone starting a small business can set up. And you can use these journals to tell you more about your business.

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