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What Are Sundry Expenses?

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Last editedJun 20212 min read

Recording expenses is an important part of business bookkeeping, but what do you do with the odd ones that don’t seem to fit into any category? The sundry account might be the best place for miscellaneous expenses like these. We’ll define sundry below and explain how this catch-all term can help you better categorize your smaller expenses.

What are sundries?

It’s difficult to give a precise sundry meaning, because the term is meant to encompass a variety of miscellaneous items. So, what are sundries in a general sense? They include any small, rare, or insignificant expenses that don’t seem to fit into any other category. You can create a sundry account in the general ledger to record these smaller items, ensuring they make their way to the income statement.

You can define sundry with the following criteria:

  • Rare or unusual expense

  • Random, irregular timing

  • Small amount

A sundry expense is one that doesn’t come up very frequently and doesn’t cost very much. The cost is insignificant to your business operations, but using a sundry account lets you lump all these small, random, miscellaneous expenses together.

A sundry can also apply to income. If your business has sundry income, this refers to any outside sources from your usual income streams. The income would need to be a small, irregular amount to qualify.

Sundry meaning and examples

To better illustrate what qualifies as a sundry expense, here are a few examples.

  • Box of replacement labels for an inventory shipment

  • Bank service charge for a one-time money transfer

  • Flowers for a colleague’s retirement party

  • Donation to a colleague’s charity

None of these expenses are planned for, nor do they fit into the usual expense accounts. If your business doesn’t already have a miscellaneous expenses account or petty cash, a sundry account would be a good place to record them.

Sundry expenses vs general expenses

Here are a few rules to remember when determining whether an expense qualifies as general or sundry.

Sundry expenses:

  • Can’t be classified under regular expense accounts

  • Involve things like one-time fees, donations, and gifts

  • Are irregular in timing

  • Involve a small amount of money

General expenses:

  • Are easy to categorize under regular expense accounts

  • Include things like salaries, wages, marketing costs, and raw materials

  • Have regular, predictable timing

  • Involve larger sums

How to record sundry expenses in accounting

They may be small and irregular, but sundry expenses must still be recorded on your financial statements. When drawing up your general ledger or profit and loss account, you can report sundries on the expenses side of the chart. Small businesses can probably just list them as a single line item under expenses, while larger businesses might need to create a designated sundry account in the ledger.

If you use accounting software to create financial statements, you can set up a sundry account section to keep track of these small expenses. Many programs list them under “miscellaneous expenses” rather than sundries.

The purpose of throwing all these small expenses together in a side account is to save your accountant the effort of allocating each random expense into its own account. However, this can change over time. They may be relatively insignificant on their own, but you should keep an eye on your sundry expenses. Analyze your expense accounts every now and then to identify emerging patterns. If there are certain types of sundries that keep popping up again and again, they’re no longer irregular. In these cases, you’ll need to create a new account to cover the recurring expense.

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