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What is meant by reconciling an account?

Reconciling an account often means proving or documenting that an account balance is correct. For example, we reconcile the balance in the general ledger account Cash in Checking to the balance shown on the bank statement. The objective is to report the correct amount in the general ledger account Cash in Checking. You will often need to adjust the general ledger account balance for items appearing on the bank statement that were not entered in the general ledger account.

I recall being asked to reconcile the general ledger account Freight Payable. What I needed to do was provide documentation that the balance in Freight Payable was proper. I proceeded to look at the shipments of recent sales and then determined how much we would be obligated to pay for the freight on those sales. We then adjusted the balance in Freight Payable to my documented amount. This reconciliation was done to have the correct account balance and to provide the outside auditors with documentation which could easily be reviewed.

I also reconciled the balance in Utilities Payable by computing the daily cost of each utility that the company used. The cost per day was then multiplied by the number of days since the last meter reading date shown on the utility bills already entered in our accounting system. We then adjusted the Utilities Payable account balance to be equal to the documented amount.