Definition: Cash is bills, coins, bank balances, money orders, and checks. Items that do not fall within the definition of cash are post-dated checks and notes receivable. Most forms of cash are electronic, rather than bills and coins, since cash balances can be stated in the computer records for investment accounts.
Cash is listed first in the balance sheet, since the reporting sequence is in order by liquidity, and cash is the most liquid of all assets. A related accounting term is cash equivalents, which refers to assets that can be readily converted into cash.
A business is more likely to retain a large amount of cash on hand if it routinely deals with cash transactions (such as a pawn shop), and is less likely to retain much cash if it has an excellent cash forecasting system and can therefore invest in more illiquid but higher yielding investments with confidence.
Cash is assumed to be stated at its fair value at all times.