How Cash Fits Into Your Overall Financial Picture
To prepare for your financial future, you are likely putting considerable focus on growing your investments. But you should also consider the important role that cash plays in your current and future financial life.
We all hold cash to pay for our current expenses, but what about future, perhaps unexpected, expenses. Are you saving for a large purchase? Do you have enough cash on hand to protect against unforeseen events like a job loss? And what about the role cash plays in your investment portfolio?
Plus, your portfolio allocation to cash and “cash-like products” typically changes over time depending on your risk tolerance, investment time horizon and whether you are near retirement or already retired.
Clearly, effectively managing your cash is vital to meeting your financial goals.
Here are three key reasons why it may make sense to talk with your financial advisor about your current and future cash needs.
1. Cash management - What are your current household expenses? If you are retired or depend on your portfolio for a portion of your income, using cash management solutions can offer efficient access to your cash and help smooth out your income stream.
2. Liquidity - There may be expenses in life we do not anticipate, such as a major repair, a medical emergency, or perhaps a job or business loss. Holding sufficient cash may help you prepare for the unexpected. In addition, if you are retired or depend on portfolio income, many financial professionals recommend having six months to two years of spending needs allocated to cash, because it can help protect against market volatility or being forced to sell investments at an inopportune time.
3. Flexibility - Allocating a portion of your portfolio to cash gives you the liquidity necessary to move quickly when an investment or business opportunity presents itself.
To include cash goals in your overall wealth management plan, you may find it beneficial to employ a methodical “three bucket” approach used by many institutional investors.
1. Operating cash: With a zero- to six-month time horizon, the purpose is to meet daily cash management needs (such as paying bills or living expenses). Liquidity and safety of principal are the primary requirements, so the focus is on low-risk options that provide immediate access to funds.
2. Core cash: With a six- to 12-month time horizon, the purpose is to provide occasional access to funds for periodic near-term needs (such as holiday gift giving, a semiannual insurance premium, or an annual vacation). Liquidity is a secondary requirement, so the focus is on low risk and incremental yield.
3. Strategic cash: With a 12- to 24-month time horizon, the purpose is to accomplish major, longer-term cash goals (such as paying college tuition). Liquidity requirements are identified ahead of time, so the investment focus is on optimized risk and returns.