Capital Expenditures vs. Repairs and Maintenance: A Simple Guide to Big Buys and Regular Fixes

  • September 27, 2023
  • OHI

Let’s imagine you have a car. Sometimes, you buy big things for it, like new tires. Other times, you just get oil changes or wash it. In the world of business, these two types of spending have special names: “Capital Expenditures” (or CapEx for short) and “Repairs and Maintenance”. Let’s dive into what these mean and why they’re different. 

What’s the Big Deal?

  1. Capital Expenditures (CapEx): Think of CapEx as the big stuff you buy that will last a long time. Like when you buy a brand-new computer for your office or add a new room to your shop. It’s like getting those new tires for your car. You won’t buy them every month, but they’re important and will last a while.
  2. Repairs and Maintenance: This is like the regular check-ups and cleanings. It’s the money you spend to keep things running smoothly. Like when you get an oil change for your car or replace a broken window in your shop. 

How Can You Tell Them Apart?

  1. How Long It Lasts: CapEx is for stuff that will help for a long time, like a few years. Repairs and maintenance are for things that help right now but don’t really add years to the life of your stuff.
  2. Value: CapEx usually makes your things more valuable or last longer. But repairs and maintenance just keep them working as they are.
  3. How Often You Do It: CapEx is a once-in-a-while thing. You don’t buy new computers every month, right? But repairs and cleaning? Those happen more often.

Writing Them Down in the Money Books

  1. Writing Down CapEx: When you spend on big things (CapEx), you don’t just write it off all at once. Instead, you spread it out over time. So, if you bought a computer for $1,200 and think it’ll last you 3 years, you’d write down $400 each year.
  2. Writing Down Repairs and Fixes: When you spend on regular fixes, you write it down right away. So, if you spent $50 on cleaning, you’d note that down as a cost for that month.

Why Does This Matter?

  1. Taxes: When it’s time to pay taxes, the government wants to know how you spent your money. Some costs can reduce the amount of money you’re taxed on. Regular fixes can usually be written off in the year you spend on them. But big buys might be spread out over a few years.
  2. Understanding Your Money: Knowing where your money goes helps you plan better. If you’re spending a lot on regular fixes, maybe it’s time to buy something new instead. And if you’re buying a lot of new stuff, it’s good to know how long it’ll last you.
  3. Planning Ahead: If you know you have big expenses coming up, you can save for them. And if you’re spending a lot on fixes, maybe it’s time to set aside some money for replacements.

To Wrap It Up

Think of CapEx as the big, long-lasting buys and repairs and maintenance as the regular check-ups and fixes. Knowing the difference helps you understand where your money’s going, plan for the future, and even save on taxes. Just like taking care of a car, taking care of your business’s money needs a mix of both big investments and regular upkeep.   

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