Assets Definition

Assets Meaning

To define assets: An asset is a resource that a company owns that provides economic value.

This includes cash, equipment, property, rights or anything that a company can expect to generate revenue or reduce expenses.

There are four main types of assets.

The four categories are:

  1. Short Term (or Current) Assets: These are assets that a company expects to be able to convert into cash within one year. This includes cash and cash equivalents, inventory, accounts receivable, and some prepaid expenses.
  2. Financial Investments: Investments in assets and securities, such as stocks and bonds, also count towards a company’s assets.
  3. Fixed Assets: These are long-lived items like equipment and real estate. In contrast to short term assets, fixed assets are expected to last beyond a year. A fixed asset is often a capital expenditure. Although the business will incur the expense year one, the expense will generally be incurred evenly over the useful lifetime of the asset on financial statement.
  4. Intangible Assets: Resources with value but without substance fall into this category, such as trademarks, patents, and intellectual property.

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Asset vs Equity vs Liability

Assets are recorded on a company’s balance sheet along with liabilities and equity.

Equity refers to the amount of money contributed by shareholders, plus retained earnings (or losses).

Liabilities are balances that effectively reduce a company’s overall spending power, such as outstanding loans or debt.

What Are Assets in Accounting?

For accounting purposes, a company’s value is equal to their assets minus their liabilities.

What Does Asset Mean Practically? A Helpful Example

When a company spends cash on an asset, the value of the “assets”section of the balance sheet remains the same.

As an example, if a company spends $10,000 in cash on a new vehicle, their cash is reduced by $10,000 but they gain an asset worth the same amount.

Before accounting for depreciation, the total value of their assets remains the same.

Assets Examples

Some examples of assets include:

  • Property, plants, and equipment (PP&E), which covers everything from heavy machinery to building space
  • Inventory
  • Investments
  • Accounts receivable
  • Cash and cash equivalents
  • Anything else that counts towards a company’s overall net worth or spending power

Personal Assets

Personal assets refers to assets owned personally by an individual. Examples would be things like a vehicle, home, savings account, equity owned, and anything else that counts towards one’s overall net worth.

As with business assets, personal assets can have varying degrees of liquidity.

Assets and Liabilities

Liabilities are essentially the opposite of an asset; they are anything that counts against a company’s overall net worth.

Examples would be debts taken on, such as by issuing bonds, wages owed, taxes owed, and so on. Liabilities are often measured against assets. If liabilities exceed assets, it indicates a financial problem.

Types of Assets

The two major types of assets are long-term and short-term assets.

Long-term assets, which may also be called fixed-assets, is anything with an economically useful life of more than one year. A short-term asset, or current asset, is anything with an economically useful life of one year or less.

List of Assets

A list of company assets can usually be found on the balance sheet. The assets may be categorized by type, such as plants, property, and equipment (PP&E), long-term investments, intangible assets, and so on.

Current Assets

Current assets, also called short-term assets, are a specific type of asset unique in the fact that they can only provide value for or within one year.

Examples would be short-term investments (that will be cashed with a year), inventory, and cash and cash equivalents.

Other Questions About Assets:

How do you define an Asset?

An asset is a resource that a company owns that provides economic value, such as cash, equipment, property, rights or anything that a company can expect to generate revenue or reduce expenses.

What are the main types of assets?

The four main types of assets are: short term assets, financial investments, fixed assets and intangible assets.

What are some examples of Assets?

Some examples of assets include: property, plants, and equipment (PP&E), which covers everything from heavy machinery to building space,
inventory, investments, accounts receivable and cash and cash equivalents

How does a Liability differ from an Asset?

Liabilities are essentially the opposite of an asset; they are anything that counts against a company’s overall net worth.

Let’s Get You Started

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An asset is a resource that a company owns that provides economic value, such as cash, equipment, property, rights or anything that a company can expect to generate revenue or reduce expenses.
The four main types of assets are: short term assets, financial investments, fixed assets and intangible assets.
Some examples of assets include: property, plants, and equipment (PP&E), which covers everything from heavy machinery to building space, inventory, investments, accounts receivable and cash and cash equivalents
Liabilities are essentially the opposite of an asset; they are anything that counts against a company’s overall net worth.
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

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

True contributes to his own finance dictionary, 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, view his author profile on Amazon, his interview on CBS, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.