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Is there a difference between an expense and an expenditure?

An expense is reported on the income statement. An expense is a cost that has expired, was used up, or was necessary in order to earn the revenues during the time period indicated in the heading of the income statement. For example, the cost of the goods that were sold during the period are considered to be expenses along with other expenses such as advertising, salaries, interest, commissions, rent, and so on.

An expenditure is a payment or disbursement. The expenditure may be for the purchase of an asset, a reduction of a liability, a distribution to the owners, or it could be an expense. For instance, an expenditure to eliminate a liability is not an expense, while expenditures for advertising, salaries, etc. will likely be recorded immediately as expenses.

Here's another example to illustrate the difference between an expense and an expenditure. A company makes an expenditure of $255,500 to purchase equipment. The expenditure occurs on a single day and the equipment is placed in service. Assuming the equipment will be used for seven years, under the straight line method of depreciation the cost of the equipment will be reported as depreciation expense of $100 per day for the next 2,555 days (7 years of service with 365 days each year).