I maintain financial records for a certain informal organization, where each member contributes certain amount of money every month.

Money not paid until the end of the month is treated as "arrears" in the next month. However, for various reasons, sometimes some members end up paying more than the amount due for that month. This amount is to be refunded next month.

I list the refund amount under "Arrears" with a negative sign in the account statement, but it does look odd to read a member has an "arrears", albeit a negative number, when he has paid more than necessary.

Is there a single term that covers both arrears and refund?

Edit I already know "balance", that is not what I am looking for. To elaborate, consider:

| Name    | Previous Due | Previous Paid | "Arrears" | Current Due | Current Paid | Balance |
| Alice   |   1000       |    500        |   500     |    1200     |    0         |  1700   |
| Bob     |    800       |   1000        |  -200     |    1000     |    0         |   800   |

As you can see here, I am looking for a term to "generalize" the Arrears column title, and balance doesn't quite fit the bill.

  • I take it you're talking about the balances in the personal ledger, not the nominal ledger. Generally, when someone owes money on their account, we say their account is in "arrears" and if they have overpaid we say it is "prepaid". You could also say that their account was "in debit" (if they owe money) or "in credit" if they've overpaid). The ledger balances will reveal the situation for each account
    – BillJ
    Dec 6, 2016 at 10:23
  • I am looking for a word or phrase that covers both. Something like "carry forward", but that works only in this context. I am hoping to find a term which can serve as the title to a column which lists all the "backlog" entries.
    – Masked Man
    Dec 6, 2016 at 10:41
  • 3
    The tem "balance" would cover both credit and debit balances.
    – BillJ
    Dec 6, 2016 at 10:44
  • I think you want the "balance".
    – D. Nelson
    Dec 6, 2016 at 10:46
  • Would you explain in more detail why you feel that balance doesn't fit? It is the most common way to refer to money (or lack of it) in an account so I think maybe we aren't understanding exactly what you're trying to express.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 6, 2016 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


You are asking for a term which reflects both debits and credits.
In accounting, there are specific terms for each side of a T-account, however

(current) balance

is the running sum of all debits and credits.

In your example, the balance will be negative when the account is in arrears and positive when the account has an overpayment.

Otherwise, you can use various terms/phrases to express a positive account

amount due you
refund (amount)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .