11.1. Basic Concepts

This chapter will present some of the techniques used to keep track of the unrealized and realized gains and losses, better known as capital gains and losses.

Certain resellable assets can change value over time, such as stocks, bonds, houses, or cars. Some assets could increase in value, some could decrease in value. It is important to be able to track some of these time-dependent asset valuations, this chapter will show you how.

Probably everything you own will increase or decrease in value over time. So, the question is for which of these assets should you track this changing value? The simple answer is that you only need to track this for items which could be sold for cash in the future or which relate to taxation.

Consumable and disposable items (for example, food, gas for your car, or printer paper) are obviously not involved. Thus, even though the new clothes you recently bought will certainly depreciate, you would not want to track this depreciation since you have no intention of reselling the clothes and there is no tax implications to the depreciation on clothing. So, for this example, the purchase of new clothes should be recorded as a pure expense... you spent the money, and it is gone.

Asset appreciation occurs when something you own increases in value over time. When you own an asset which has increased in value, the difference between the original purchase price and the new value is known as unrealized gains. When you sell the asset, the profit you earn is known as realized gains or capital gains. An example of an asset from which you could have unrealized gains, and eventually capital gains, is stock in a publicly traded company.