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What Does "Actual to Date" Mean?

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  • Written By: Maggie Worth
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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"Actual to date" is a business and accounting term. It indicates an amount, often of money, that has been made or expended between a specified start time and the present. It specifically describes the total that has been actually realized, as opposed to the total that is planned.

In many cases, this phrase applies to funds. These can be incoming or outgoing funds and can be applied to projects large or small. For example, a large manufacturing facility might want to know its total dollar of sales, actual to date. This would mean the sum total of all monies collected between the first of the fiscal year and the current date. This would not generally include jobs that have been contracted but not yet paid, as a sale is incomplete until both product and payment have been delivered.

The same principle applies to expenditures actual to date. This number would include all monies actually spent up to the present time, but would not include monies promised. In more complex accounting models, accrual methods may change the meaning of the word "actual," but in general, this term is used specifically to refer to money actually spent or received.

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The purpose of an actual to date figure is usually to compare actual performance against projected performance. Specifically, it is to ensure that the company or project is on budget. These figures may also be necessary to plan cash flow. If a company has a low level of accessible capital, for example, it might need to know its actual to date sales so that it can determine how much money it has on hand for a purchase or other expenditure.

Money is not the only area in which the term is used, however. A production facility might want to know how many items it has produced actual to date. This would include all items that are complete, but exclude items that are partially finished.

Actual to date can, in fact, apply to just about anything that needs to be counted. A retail store, for instance, might want to know how many customers have come into the store so it can evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing plan. Likewise, a baker might want to know the actual to date amount of flour used so he can ensure that he has enough on hand to complete all his jobs for the day.

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