What Are Liquid Assets – a Definition & More

The best way to define what a liquid asset is –  a liquid asset is either cash or something that can be converted into cash, very quickly, while retaining its full value.  “Liquid assets” are typically easily converted to cash, are in high demand, and easily sold for full value – while being a very safe and secure investment that won’t ordinarily lose value.

Why are certain assets called “liquid”?  Simply because they are quite literally, fluid.  They can be accessed quickly and easily.

The most common liquid assets are cash and other investments that can be quickly and easily converted to cash, with minimal risk. They are often used to meet short-term obligations, such as paying expenses or debts.

  • Having cash on hand means that you can cover unexpected expenses without having to worry about where the money will come from. Investments can be sold quickly to generate cash if needed, and property can be used as collateral for a loan.
  • Having liquid assets also gives you the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. If you have the cash available, you can seize opportunities that might not be available if you had to wait to liquidate other assets.
  • For example: if you have a sudden medical emergency, you can liquidate your assets to pay for the costs. Or, if you have the opportunity to invest in a new business, you can use your liquid assets to fund the venture.

There are a few things to keep in mind when investing in liquid assets.

  • First, it’s important to diversify your investments. This means investing in a variety of different types of assets so that you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.
  • Second, be mindful of liquidity risk. This is the risk that an asset will lose its value or become difficult to sell.

Why Are Liquid Assets Important?

Liquid assets provide security and peace of mind.  Liquid assets are important because they can be used to cover unexpected expenses or  take advantage of opportunities when they arise. 

  • For example, if you have a bill that is due tomorrow and you do not have the cash to cover it, you can use a liquid asset, such as a savings account, to pay the bill. However, if you have a non-liquid asset, such as a piece of jewelry, you cannot use it to pay the bill.
  • Liquid assets are also more valuable than non-liquid assets  because they are less risky. When you invest in a non-liquid asset, such as a stock, you are taking on the risk that the stock may not be worth anything in the future. However, when you invest in a liquid asset, such as a savings account, you are not taking on that same risk.
  • Lastly, liquid assets are also more flexible than non-liquid assets. For example, if you have a liquid asset, such as a savings account, you can use it for any purpose. However, if you have
Liquid assets Liquid Assets

A quick sale is a sale of an asset that is made in a short period of time, usually in order to raise cash quickly. A business day is a day on which banks and other financial institutions are open for business.

  • A financial emergency is a situation in which you need access to cash immediately to cover unexpected expenses.  An emergency fund is a savings account that you can use to cover unexpected expenses in a financial emergency.  You need assets that you access quickly, and can count on the full value of those assets to cover your financial emergency.
  • A financial crisis is an event that results in a sudden, significant deterioration of financial assets. This can happen to the stock market, real estate and currencies.  This is why it is unwise to count certain assets as “liquid assets” to cover you in a financial emergency.

What Is a Liquid Asset?

Cash is the most obvious example of a liquid asset. Other liquid assets may include investments that can be quickly sold for cash, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Some types of property, such as jewelry, art, and collectibles, can also be liquidated for cash – but may take time, have transaction costs and may need to be sold at a discount.

In general, anything that can be sold quickly and for a reasonable price can be considered a liquid asset. However, the term is most often used in reference to financial assets, such as cash and investments.

While liquid assets are important, it is also important to remember that not ALL liquid assets are always available immediately. For example, if you have all of your money invested in stocks, you will not be able to access those funds today if you need them. As such, it is important to have a mix of different types of assets, including both liquid and non-liquid assets.

Short term assets
Short term assets

How Are Liquid Assets Different From Other Assets

There are two main types of assets: liquid and illiquid. 

  • Liquid assets are those that can be easily converted to cash, such as checking and savings accounts, money market funds, and short-term government bonds. 
  • Illiquid assets are those that cannot be easily converted to cash, such as real estate, long-term government bonds, and collectibles.

Asset liquidity is a term used to describe how easily an asset can be converted into cash. Liquid assets are those that can be easily converted into cash, while illiquid assets are those that cannot be easily converted into cash.

Liquid assets are important because they can be used to meet short-term obligations. For example, if a company needs to pay its employees, it will need to have liquid assets on hand to do so. Illiquid assets, on the other hand, are not as useful in meeting short-term obligations because they cannot be easily converted into cash.

What is The Difference Between Assets and LIQUID Assets?


Liquid assets are cash or assets that can be quickly converted to cash. This includes investments in short-term debt instruments, such as Treasury bills, commercial paper, and money market funds.

Other assets, such as real estate or patents, cannot be easily converted to cash. This means that they are less liquid and may not be suitable for covering short-term expenses. In addition, other assets may be more difficult to value than liquid assets. For example, a business may have to hire appraisers to determine the value of real estate or patents.

There are a few factors that affect how liquid an asset is. 

  • The asset’s marketability: The more marketable an asset is, the more liquid it is. An asset is marketable if there is a large and active market for the asset, and if the asset can be easily bought and sold.   In general, assets are more liquid when there are more buyers and sellers in the market. 
  • The asset’s divisibility: The more divisible an asset is, the more liquid it is. An asset is divisible if it can be divided into small units that can be easily exchanged.
  • The asset’s transportability: The more transportable an asset is, the more liquid it is. An asset is transportable if it can be easily moved from one location to another.
  • the asset’s storage: The more easily an asset can be stored, the more liquid it is. An asset is easily stored if it does not deteriorate over time and if it can be stored in a small space.
  • The first is the type of asset. Some assets, such as stocks and bonds, are more liquid than others, such as real estate. 

Asset liquidity is an important consideration for both individuals and businesses. For individuals, it is important to have liquid assets on hand in case of an emergency. For businesses, it is important to maintain a certain level of liquidity to meet short-term obligations and to avoid defaulting on loans.

What Is An Example Of A Liquid Asset

What is considered liquid assets?  A liquid asset is an asset that can be quickly converted into cash. Common examples of liquid assets include 

  • Cash
  • Checking 
  • Savings accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • Short term certificates of deposit
  • Treasury bills.

While liquid assets are important, it is also important to remember that they are not without risk. For example, if you keep your liquid assets in a checking account, there is always the risk that the account could be subject to fees, minimum balance requirements, or be outpaced by inflation.

Similarly, if you invest your liquid assets in a short-term investment, there is always the risk that the investment will lose value before it matures. While liquid assets are important, it is important to remember to diversify your assets to minimize your risk.

Assets in Order of Liquidity

While all assets have some level of liquidity, some are more liquid than others. Liquid cash or legal tender (liquid money) is the most liquid asset because it can be used immediately to cover expenses. Investments that can be quickly sold, such as stocks and bonds, are also highly liquid. Short-term debt, such as a three-month Treasury bill, is another example of a liquid asset.

The following is a list of assets in liquid investments in order of liquidity

  1. Cash is the best, high quality liquid assets
  2. Cash Markets:  Money in a checking, bank account, savings account, money market accounts such as money market funds or credit union
  3. CDs and other short-term investments
  4. Mutual fund or individual bond
  5. Major stock or share of stock in large companies and other common equity shares – there are typically many buyers and sellers that are quite active.
  6. Retirement accounts and savings such as IRA’s and 401ks – more liquid if you are of retirement age, less liquid if you are not retirement age yet.
  7. Real estate, property or land – you can increase the liquidity of each of these, by having an establishing equity line of credit available against these properties.
  8. Collectibles, jewelry, etc

As you can see, cash is the most liquid asset, while real estate is the least liquid. This is because it can take months or even years to sell a piece of property, while cash can be converted to cash almost immediately.

If you need to raise cash quickly, you will want to focus on selling your most liquid assets. However, if you have more time, you may be able to get a better price for your illiquid assets.

List of Illiquid Assets

Any long term investment or holding should be considered a non liquid asset.  Why?  By it’s very definition, a “long term holding” should be viewed with a 12 month time horizon or longer, and not something you plan to liquidate in the short term.

handing over cash for a house real estate

There are a number of asset types that are typically considered to be illiquid

  • Private markets, for example, are often illiquid because there is no central exchange on which to buy or sell the assets. 
  • Real estate, too, can be difficult to sell quickly, especially if it is not located in a desirable area. 
  • Boats, planes, art, jewelry and other less popular expensive items such as a plant or factory are difficult to quickly find a buyer.
  • Intangible assets, such as patents or copyrights, are also often considered to be illiquid because they cannot be sold outright.
  • Low quality assets are also typically considered to be illiquid. This is because investors are often reluctant to buy assets that are of questionable value, and so there is often not enough demand to enable a quick sale. 
  • Secondary markets, where assets are bought and sold between investors, are also often illiquid because the prices of assets can be highly volatile.
  • Finally, assets that are not reasonably priced are also often considered to be illiquid. This is because investors are not willing to pay more for an asset than it is worth, and so a quick sale is not possible.

In general, then, an asset is considered to be illiquid if it cannot be sold quickly and easily for cash. 

Example of Liquid Asset vs a Non Liquid Asset


  • The US Dollar. US Currency is by far and away the most in demand currency in the world – accepted virtually everywhere, and preferred in most parts of the world.  It is backed by the US government and stable.  Due to the high demand and acceptability, US currency is perhaps the most liquid asset in the world today.

Illiquid Asset or Non Liquid Asset

  • Rare collectibles. There is a very small market for those that want to buy a specific rare collectible, they tend to be very expensive, the value of said item varies widely based on who is looking to purchase the item.  It may be priceless to one person, and worthless to the next person.
  • Take a Honus Wagner baseball card as an example.  A baseball fan who is wealthy may pay $8 million for it.  My mom would have thrown it away with the rest of my baseball cards… 
  • The point is – it is difficult to find a buyer, and when you do, it is even more difficult to quickly get fair market value for the item.

Why Invest in Non Liquid Assets?

There are a few reasons why you might want to invest in illiquid assets.

  • First, they may be a better investment for you than liquid assets.
  • Second, they may provide a higher return on investment. This is because they are often more volatile, which means that they can go up in value very quickly.

Of course, there are also risks associated with investing in illiquid assets. First, you may not be able to sell them when you want to. This means that you could end up stuck with an asset that you cannot use. Second, the price of illiquid assets can go down as well as up. This means that you could lose money on your investment.

Before you invest in illiquid assets, you should make sure that you understand the risks. You should also make sure that you have a plan for how you will sell the asset if you need to.


The Importance of Liquid Assets In Your Portfolio

There are a number of reasons why liquid assets are important – discuss your investment assets with your financial advisors and financial institutions. 

  • First, liquid assets are important because they provide a buffer against market risk. When markets are stressed, liquid assets can help to stabilize the portfolio and protect against losses. 
  • Second, liquid assets are important because they can be used to take advantage of current market conditions. For example, if the market is declining, liquid assets can be used to buy assets at a discount. 
  • Third, liquid assets are important because they can be used to hedge against foreign currency exposure. When investing in foreign markets, liquid assets can be used to offset any decline in the value of foreign currencies. 
  • Finally, liquid assets are important because they can be used to meet unexpected expenses or opportunities. For example, if a financial advisor has a client who needs to liquidate their assets in a hurry, liquid assets can be used to meet that demand.

Business Owners: What is Liquid Capital?  Liquid Capital Meaning

Liquid capital refers to the money that a business has readily available to cover its short-term obligations. This can include cash on hand, accounts receivable, investments that can be quickly converted to cash, and lines of credit that can be used to cover expenses if needed.

Having adequate liquid capital is important for businesses of all sizes, as it can help them weather unexpected expenses or cash flow crunches. It is also a key factor in maintaining a good credit rating, as lenders often look at a business’s liquidity when considering a loan.

There are several ratios that can be used to measure a business’s liquid capital, including the quick ratio and the liquidity coverage ratio. The liquidity coverage ratio is particularly important for banks, as it is used to determine whether a bank has enough liquid assets to cover its liabilities during a 30-day period.

There are also liquidity requirements that must be met by businesses in certain industries, such as banking and insurance. These requirements are set by regulators and are designed to protect businesses and consumers from financial risks.

In general, it is important for businesses to maintain a healthy level of liquid capital. This will help them to meet their obligations, avoid financial difficulties, and maintain a good credit rating.


Analysis of Liquid Asset Ownership

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