Cash ratio: Definition, importance, and calculation | Verified Metrics (2024)

The cash ratio, also known as the cash-asset ratio, is a measure of liquidity ora company'sability to meet short-term debts. It's also known as the cash conversion cycle.

When you own a business, monitoring your cash ratio is a significant financial metric that can help you identify potential risks and make informed decisions about managing your cash flow.

You might wonder why reading about cash ratios is relevant if you are not an accountant. The truth is that few businesses can succeed without keeping track of their finances regularly.

Many new entrepreneurs fail because they don't understand the importance of always watching their balance sheet. If this sounds like something that might apply to you, keep reading for more information on understanding cash ratio, what it is, and why you should care!

What is the cash ratio?

The cash ratio measures the amount of cash you have versus the amount of cash you expect to owe soon. Put another way, thecash ratio shows how long you can meet your obligations with the amount of cash you currently have.

For example, if you have $100,000 in the bank and you owe $300,000 in the next 30 days, your cash ratio is 0.33, meaning you need more cash to pay your obligations before the deadline.

Cash ratio analysis measures liquidity, or the ability of a firm to meet short-term obligations with cash on hand. It can be calculated by dividing the amount of cash in the company's bank accounts by the firm's short-term liabilities.

Why is understanding the cash ratio important?

The cash ratio is an important financial metric that can help you identify potential risks and make informed decisions about managing your cash flow best.

If you have a low cash ratio, you may have trouble paying your short-term obligations, including your credit card bills, payroll, utilities, taxes, and other expenses. You'll likely have to take on debt or sell off some of your business assets to avoid getting into trouble.

On the other hand, a high cash ratio means you may not be taking advantage of investment opportunities. This can hinder the growth of your business.

Your cash flow and cash ratio will fluctuate throughout the year, so it's important to look at trends rather than individual figures. That way, you can identify and address issues before they become significant problems.

Cash ratio vs. current ratio

The cash ratio is similar to the current ratio, which evaluates a company's liquidity and measures how long it would take to become insolvent if no more cash was coming in. The current ratio compares the number of current assets against current liabilities.

The main difference between the two liquidity ratios is the inclusion of cash in the cash ratio. Both ratios and other liquidity ratios are essential financial metrics that can help you identify potential risks and make informed decisions about managing your cash flow best.

How to calculate the cash ratio

To calculate the cash ratio, divide the amount of cash into your bank accounts by the number of your short-term liabilities. A company's short-term liabilities include accounts payable, short-term loans, and other obligations that must be repaid within one year.

Cash ratio = (cash + cash equivalents) / ( Short-term liabilities, i.e., accounts payable + loans)

If you use a business management platform or an online cash ratio calculator, it should calculate the cash ratio for you.

What is a good cash ratio?

A good cash ratio depends on the type of business you're running. A healthy cash ratio may be different for manufacturers than for retail stores.

However, a general rule is that you want your company's cash ratio to be greater than or equal to the number of your short-term liabilities. Simply put,a healthy liquidity position or ratio should be between 0.5 and 1.

Cash ratio formula example

Let's say you own a printing company, have $45,000 in the bank, $25,000 in accruals, and an account payable of $50,000. Your cash ratio is then calculated using the below formula:

Cash ratio = (bank balance ) / (accruals + account payable)

($45,000 ) / ($25,000 + $50,000)

Cash ratio = $0.6

With a cash ratio of 0.6, it means that your company can comfortably pay off 60% of current liabilities.

When should you be concerned about your cash ratio?

You should be concerned if your cash ratio is below the number of your short-term liabilities. Ideally, you need a higher cash ratio than your short-term liabilities, but you may have trouble making payments on time if you're too far below the amount you owe.

If your cash ratio is dangerously low, you should consider ways to increase it. You may have to take on additional debt or sell off liquid assets to get the money you need.

What are the limitations of the cash ratio?

As with any ratio, thecash ratio is not a perfect liquidity measurement. It doesn't take into account liquid assets like inventory or property, only cash. It also doesn't account for other factors like the amount of debt you have.

Furthermore, thecash ratio can vary depending on your industry. For example, the printing company example above should have enough cash to make it through one month, but a retail store may need more cash to last longer.

Ways to improve your cash ratio

There are several things you can do to improve your cash ratio. First, ensure you're taking advantage of every opportunity to increase your cash flow. If you're using accounting software or a business management platform, ensure it's set up to help you track your cash flow.

You should also make sure all your bills are paid on time, including payroll and debt obligations. It's also important to be selective about the projects you take on.

For example, you may want to pass up on a big contract if you aren't sure you can complete it within the allotted time and spend the money you would have spent on it wisely.


The cash ratio is a critical metric for any business owner to track. It shows your company's time to generate new cash flow to pay short-term liabilities. The ratio can be affected by many factors, including your business's financial health, industry, and cash on hand.

Remember that by monitoring your financial ratios and taking steps to improve them when necessary, you can reduce the risk of cash flow problems in your business, therefore, impressive financial reporting.

Cash ratio: Definition, importance, and calculation | Verified Metrics (2024)


Cash ratio: Definition, importance, and calculation | Verified Metrics? ›

The cash ratio

cash ratio
The quick liquidity ratio is the total amount of a company's quick assets divided by the sum of its net liabilities and reinsurance liabilities. This calculation is one of the most rigorous ways to determine a debtor's capacity to pay off current debt obligations without needing to raise external capital. › terms › quick-liquidity-ratio
is a liquidity measure that shows a company's ability to cover its short-term obligations using only cash and cash equivalents. The cash ratio is derived by adding a company's total reserves of cash and near-cash securities and dividing that sum by its total current liabilities.

What is the importance of cash ratio? ›

The cash ratio is a measure of the liquidity of a firm, namely the ratio of the total assets and cash equivalents of a firm to its current liabilities. The metric calculates the ability of a company to repay its short-term debt with cash or near-cash resources, such as securities which are easily marketable.

Why are cash flow ratios important? ›

Cash flow ratios compare a company's cash flows to other elements of its financial statement, and they measure how well a business can pay off its liabilities. These equations are vital to many financial careers and can help professionals better analyze a company's financial health.

What is the purpose of calculating and analyzing liquidity ratios? ›

A liquidity ratio is a type of financial ratio used to determine a company's ability to pay its short-term debt obligations. The metric helps determine if a company can use its current, or liquid, assets to cover its current liabilities.

What does the cash position ratio indicate? ›

This measures the ability of an organization to cover its short-term obligations. If the ratio is greater than one, it means that the company has adequate cash on hand to continue to operate.

Is a high or low cash ratio better? ›

A: A higher cash ratio means that a company has more liquid capital available and lower short-term liabilities in need of payment, while a lower cash ratio means that there is a higher amount of liabilities and less cash on hand as an asset. Therefore, it is more desirable to have a higher cash ratio than a lower one.

What happens if cash ratio is too high? ›

Higher Cash Ratios indicate less credit and liquidity risk, but if a company's ratio is too high, it could indicate mismanagement or misallocated capital. As with the other Liquidity Ratios, context is king for understanding the Cash Ratio.

Which cash flow ratio is most important? ›

Cash flow margin ratio

Cash flow margin ratio is a more reliable metric than net profit, as it gives a much clearer picture of the amount of cash generated per pound of sales.

Why is it important to use ratios to analyze financial statements? ›

Ratio analysis compares line-item data from a company's financial statements to reveal insights regarding profitability, liquidity, operational efficiency, and solvency. Ratio analysis can mark how a company is performing over time, while comparing a company to another within the same industry or sector.

Is it better to have a higher cash flow ratio? ›

3 Cash Flow Margin Ratio

A higher ratio means that the company has a higher profit margin, lower operating expenses, or faster collection of receivables. A lower ratio means that the company has a lower profit margin, higher operating expenses, or slower collection of receivables.

How to calculate cash ratio? ›

The cash ratio is a liquidity measure that shows a company's ability to cover its short-term obligations using only cash and cash equivalents. The cash ratio is derived by adding a company's total reserves of cash and near-cash securities and dividing that sum by its total current liabilities.

What are the best ratios to measure market strength? ›

The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is quite possibly the most heavily used stock ratio. The P/E ratio—also called the "multiple"—tells you how much investors are willing to pay for a stock relative to its per-share earnings.

What are the benefits of calculating liquidity ratio? ›

It helps understand the availability of cash in a company which determines the short term financial position of the company. A higher number is indicative of a sound financial position, while lower numbers show signs of financial distress.

How do you improve cash flow? ›

9 ways to improve cash flow
  1. Start with good cash flow forecasting.
  2. Plan for different scenarios and understand the challenges of your industry.
  3. Consider your one-day cash flow value.
  4. Provide cash flow training for your team.
  5. Communicate effectively within your business.
  6. Make sure you get paid promptly.
  7. Manage with oversight.

What is the main focus of liquidity ratios? ›

It focuses on the company's ability to meet its current obligations, which are usually short-term in nature. Liquidity Ratios help measure this capability by analyzing the ratio of liquid assets (cash and accounts receivable) to current liabilities (debt due within a year), as reported on the balance sheet.

Why do we calculate liquidity? ›

As mentioned above, your liquidity ratio tells you whether you will be able to repay your debts. This usually means that you have sufficient cash, bank deposits or assets that can be quickly converted to cash to pay your bills.

What is the purpose of liquidity and leverage ratios? ›

Financial leverage ratios provide an indication of the long-term solvency of the firm. Unlike liquidity ratios that are concerned with short-term assets and liabilities, financial leverage ratios measure the extent to which the firm is using long term debt.

Why is liquidity important in business? ›

A company's liquidity indicates its ability to pay debt obligations, or current liabilities, without having to raise external capital or take out loans. High liquidity means that a company can easily meet its short-term debts while low liquidity implies the opposite and that a company could imminently face bankruptcy.


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