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Apples, Oranges and Accounts Receivable

What do apples, oranges and bananas, have to do with accounts receivable and ProCare? In fact, what exactly is accounts receivable in the first place? Wikipedia offers a detailed explanation, but for our purposes it’s easiest to think of accounts receivable (known as AR) as money owed to your child care center.

Going Up, Going Down

When you charge a family for child care services the money owed to you (your AR) goes up. When you receive a payment your AR goes down. If a partial payment is made your AR goes down, but not all the way to zero. Add the balances due for all your families and agencies and you’ll know your AR.

Apples and Oranges

You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “That’s like comparing apples to oranges”. With accounting reports this is a very apt phrase. That’s because many reports show you AR in some way or another, but each paints its own picture – maybe an orange, or banana, or perhaps an apple missing a bite. It depends on the intended use of the report.

Balance Due (Apples)

Some reports show you the amount a family or agency owes, in other words, their balance due. This is a part of accounts receivable, a bite from the apple if you will. Some reports include only people who owe money – which gives you a slightly skewed picture (an apple with a missing bite) since it excludes people with a credit balance.

Beginning and Ending Balances (Oranges)

Other reports may include a beginning balance (AR at the start of the period) and an ending balance (AR at the end of the period). The orange might grow or shrink from beginning to end.

Change in AR (Bananas)

Still other reports show a single number for AR, the change in accounts receivable. This is how much AR went up or down during specific dates. If you charged more tuition during the month than you received in payments your AR would be going up. If you received more payments than you charged out, AR would be going down (a negative number on some reports).

Can I Compare Different Fruits?

Sometimes, as long as you take into account their differences. A balance due report (an apple) that includes everyone may match the ending balance on another report (an orange). I say “may” because some reports are date specific and others are not. Another report showing the change in AR (bananas) may match an oranges report if you subtract the ending from the beginning balance. Again, there could be reasons why they might not.

Numbers Don’t Match – What to Do?

First, I’d suggest reviewing a couple of Frequent Questions (below) that can help clear up confusion around how AR is shown on particular reports. If you’re still having trouble let us know exactly what you’re trying to make sense of. We can often direct you to another report with more detail. In some cases we may ask to take a closer look at your data. There’s always a logical explanation, but sometimes you have to peel a few apples and oranges to uncover it.

Frequent Questions on Accounts Receivable

Happy accounting and until next time, cheers!


If you have questions or comments about this article (or suggestions for another article) I’d be pleased to hear from you. Drop me at note at

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