From day one, your accounts in QuickBooks need to match the real-life bank and credit card accounts you're tracking. When you create a new account in QuickBooks, you pick a day to start tracking transactions. Then, you enter the balance of your real-life bank account for whatever day you choose. This amount and start date set the account's opening balance.
Learn how it works
An opening balance is the starting point for the account. It summarises all past transactions in your up to the opening balance date. Think of it as a snapshot of the account's history.
Pick an easy date to start your opening balance. If you just opened a new account at your bank, use the day you opened the account. If you've had the account for a while, start your opening balance on the same day as the beginning of your next bank statement. Whatever date you choose, use your bank statement to get the account's balance for that day.
Tip: QuickBooks tracks all of your opening balances for all of your accounts in an Opening Balance Equity account. This makes it easy to go back and look at what you entered later on.
Let's look at an example. You open a brand new account at your bank with $100. If you create a QuickBooks account and set the starting date for the same day, the opening balance is $100.
You can start the opening balance on any day. Many of us choose a date that's in the middle of a bank statement period for accounts we already have. Or maybe you've had your account for a while and now want to start tracking it in QuickBooks. You can start from the end of a recent bank statement so you can just summarise all of your past transactions in the opening balance. If you set the date for May 8th, the opening balance in QuickBooks is the balance of your real-life account's balance on May 8th.
Enter an opening balance for an account
Learn how to enter opening balances in QuickBooks Online.