Prepaid Assets

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on March 02, 2023

Prepaid Assets: Definition

Prepaid assets are nonmonetary assets whose benefits affect more than one accounting period. They include items such as prepaid insurance and prepaid rent and essentially represent the right to receive future services.

However, the rights to these future benefits or services rarely last more than two or three years.

Prepaid Assets: Explanation

The matching convention requires allocation of the expenditure between the asset that represents the remaining economic benefits and the expense that represents the benefits used or consumed by the firm.

The services represented by prepaid assets are a function of time. So, the allocation process is closely related to the term of service.

The purchase of prepaid insurance will serve as an example.

Suppose that Smith Company, which has a yearly accounting period ending on 31 December, purchases a two-year comprehensive insurance policy for $2,400 on 1 April 2019.

When the insurance policy is purchased, the debit is to the asset account: Prepaid Insurance.

The original journal entry, as well as the adjusting entry and the relevant T-accounts, are illustrated below.

Prepaid Assets Journal Entry

To adjust prepaid insurance for 9 months, the amount of the journal entry is:

= Cost of insurance / Number of months of benefits received

= $2,400 / 24 month

= $100

Adjusting entry = 9 months x $100

= $900


If we assume that the entire original expenditure for insurance was recorded in the asset account, Prepaid Insurance, it is necessary on 31 December to decrease the asset account by the amount of insurance that has expired.

In this case, assuming that the service represented by the asset expires equally each month, the Prepaid Insurance account must be reduced by $900.

The balance of $1,500 in the Prepaid Insurance account represents the future benefits of the insurance policy, and the $900 balance in the Insurance Expense account represents the amount of benefits that have expired.

The adjusting entry for prepaid rent or other prepaid assets follows a similar process. When you begin to make adjusting entries for prepaid assets, you should follow these steps:

  • First, determine the amount of the estimated monthly benefits to be received from the asset. To do so, use this general formula:
Formula For Estimated Monthly Benefits From Asset
  • Second, write off the appropriate amount of the asset used based on two factors:

    1. Asset acquisition date

    2. Accounting period length

The adjusting entry decreases the asset account and records an expense for the amount of benefits that have been used or have expired.

Prepaid Assets FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.