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What Is a Customer Ledger?

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  • Written By: Jim B.
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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A customer ledger is a specific part of a company's general ledger devoted entirely to the company's transactions with its customers. Since putting all of the various business transactions into one bookkeeping location would be endlessly confusing, companies use separate ledgers devoted to different aspects of their businesses. One of these subsidiary ledgers is the customer ledger, which details all of the accounts receivable a company has amassed. This is especially necessary when companies have credit arrangements with their customers, since such arrangements often lead to multiple payments for a single item purchased.

Bookkeeping is a necessary task for any company hoping to do effective business. If a company can't keep track of all of the money coming in and going out, it can lead to money being lost and not recovered. In addition, keeping track of all transactions that a company undertakes is necessary when it comes time to pay taxes. Since a general ledger can become overstuffed and confusing if all of the different transactions are included in haphazard fashion, ledgers devoted to specific business branches are necessary. A customer ledger is one of these specific ledgers.

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It is necessary for certain things to be included in a customer ledger. First, all of the names and important information regarding customers of a specific company should be included. Each customer should occupy their own page, which should detail all of the different transactions that occur between the business and that customer. Transactions include any purchases made, any customer returns, and the payments made to the company in question.

In many cases, companies may want to keep even more details in their customer ledgers. Doing so can prevent any confusion in the bookkeeping process. For example, if items are being shipped, the shipping order and any shipping identification numbers should be included. Serial numbers of the items being purchased should also have a specific place in the ledger. Copies of the actual bills that were sent to customers are also useful to consult if any discrepancies arise.

When companies compiled a customer ledger in the past, it was often by hand in a section of the general ledger or in a separate book that, combined with books devoted to accounts payable, inventory, and other business aspects, comprised all of the bookkeeping. Modern technology has made ledger-keeping a much easier process, since it is often handled now by computer software. This requires bookkeepers to simply enter data pertaining to customers and their purchases. The software then makes any necessary computations and arranges all of the disparate details into a coherent whole.

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