Difference Between Cost and Expense
The key difference between Cost and Expense is that cost refers to the amount spent by the business organization for the purpose of acquiring an asset or for creation of the assets, whereas, the expense refers to the amount spent by the business organization for the ongoing operations of the business in order to ensure the generation of the revenue.
In the financial domain, the success of a business is measured on the basis of the price negotiated and the cost incurred. In this article, we will discuss cost vs expense. They are very often used as interchangeably in the business discussion, but these two words have different meanings and applications in business and this article intends to put forward that difference.
What is Cost?
It can be defined as an amount paid or spent to acquire an asset (fixed asset) or paid towards the creation of an asset (prepaid expense). It is usually a one-time payment that is capitalized and is reflected as a balance sheet item. The amount is invested in the purchase of such assets which are required for continuance of the business and it will give future benefits.
What is the Expense?
The expense can be defined as an amount paid or spent regularly towards ongoing business operations to ensure revenue generation. It is spent annually and is reflected in the profit and loss statement and as such impacts the profitability. Also, the balance sheet cost is accounted as an expense in the profit and loss account guided by the matching principle i.e. the expense should be recognized proportionately during the same period when it is utilized for revenue generation.
One of the examples is the purchase of plant and machinery for USD 1000 which is capitalized and is accounted as a fixed asset in the balance sheet. Now, let us consider that the fixed asset is to be depreciated over the next 10 years on a straight-line basis. Consequently, the depreciation expense would be USD 100 annually and this depreciation is an example of expense.
Another example is pre-payment of rent of USD 600 for the next 10 years which will be accounted for in the balance sheet as a prepaid expense. Now, the prepaid expense is to be spread out across 10 years at USD 60 annually as rent expense and this is another example of expense.
Cost vs Expense Infographics
Let’s see the top differences between cost vs expense.
The key differences are as follows –
- Cost is an investment made towards assets purchased for future benefits in business, while expense is spent on the ongoing business for revenue generation.
- Cost is a one-time payment in nature, while expense is a regular payment.
- Cost is usually reflected in the balance sheet, while expense forms part of the profit and loss statement.
- A cost is recognized as an expense in the profit and loss statement as per the matching principle, but an expense can never be recognized as a cost.
Cost vs Expense Comparative Table
|Basis for Comparison||Cost||Expense|
|Meaning||An investment made towards the purchase of assets intended for future benefits in business||A regular payment made towards ongoing business for revenue generation|
|Financial Statement||Reflected on the asset side of the balance sheet||Reflected on the profit and loss statement|
|Purpose||Purchase of asset||Payment necessary to earn revenue|
|Effect on Profitability||Doesn’t impact the profitability of the company directly||Directly impacts the profitability of the company|
|Current Ratio||The cost incurred towards current assets impact the current ratio||No impact|
|Capital Structure||The cost incurred towards non-current assets impact capital structure||No impact|
|Example||Fixed assets, prepaid expense, inventory, etc.||Depreciation, interest expense, raw material expense etc.|
The bottom line is that in order to distinctively and correctly differentiate between cost and expense one must understand the purpose and accounting treatment. I hope this article helps to avoid the interchangeable use of the two terms in the future.
This has been a guide to Cost vs Expense. Here we discuss the top differences between cost and expense along with infographics and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles –