Accounting For Dummies, 5th Edition
You may know individuals who make their living as accountants. You may be thankful that they’re the accountants and you’re not. You may prefer to leave accounting to the accountants, and think that you don’t need to know anything about accounting. This attitude reminds me of the old Greyhound Bus advertising slogan “Leave the Driving to Us.” Well, if you could get around everywhere you wanted to go on the bus, that would be no problem. But if you have to drive most places, you’d better know something about cars. Throughout your life you do a lot of “financial driving,” so you should know something about accounting.
Sure, accounting involves numbers. So does watching your car mileage, knowing your blood pressure, keeping track of your bank balance, negotiating the interest rate on your home mortgage, monitoring your retirement fund, and bragging about your kid’s grade point average. You deal with numbers all the time. Accountants provide financial numbers. These numbers are very important in your financial life. Knowing nothing about financial numbers puts you at a serious disadvantage. In short, financial literacy requires a working knowledge of accounting, which this book provides.
About This Book
This book, like all For Dummies books, consists of freestanding chapters, like boats tied up to a dock. Each chapter floats on its own but the boats are all tied to the same dock. You can read the chapters in any order you please. You can tailor your reading plan to give priority to the chapters of most interest to you, and read other chapters as time permits. Of course, you could start on page 1 and continue straight through until the last page. The choice is yours.
I’ve written this book for a wide audience. You may be a small business manager who has experience with financial statements, for example, but you need to know more about how to use accounting information in analyzing your profit performance and cash flow. Or, you may be an investor who needs to know more about financial statements, so your chief interest probably will be the chapters that explain those statements. You could be an accounting student who needs shorter and clearer explanations of topics than in your textbook. (Unfortunately accounting textbooks, even introductory texts, tend to be excessively technical and convoluted.)
This book offers several advantages:
- I explain accounting in plain English and I keep jargon and technical details to a minimum.
- I carefully follow a step-by-step approach in explaining topics.
- I include only topics that non-accountants should understand; I avoid topics that only practicing accountants have to know.
- I include frank discussions of certain sensitive accounting topics, which go unmentioned in many books.
I should mention one thing: This book is not an accounting textbook. Introductory accounting textbooks are ponderous, dry as dust, and overly detailed (in my judgment). However, textbooks have one useful feature: They include exercises and problems. You can learn much by reading this book without doing problems. If you have the time, you can gain additional insights and test your understanding of accounting by working the exercises and short problems in my Accounting Workbook For Dummies (Wiley).
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