Where to save a rainy day fund for your small business
Working a small amount of savings into a financial plan helps to generate a modest fund over time
Have you ever considered an emergency fund for your business? The idea of small business owners setting aside emergency finances is not a new one.
A few years ago, a piece on “rainy day funds” described them as emergency safeguards that “provide peace of mind when there’s an unusual or catastrophic event in your life.” That benefit sounds all the more appealing after 2020, and the pandemic and financial crisis we’ve all lived through.
Between job losses, shuttered businesses, and a stagnant economy, it goes without saying that those who had rainy day funds set aside did have a bit more peace of mind. But this refers largely to benefits for an individual. In light of the difficulties just mentioned, it’s now worth considering whether small businesses themselves should also have funds set aside.
I know I wish I’d had those funds in 2020. In a sense I’m fortunate in that I don’t have many employees to worry about. But due to a pure cash-flow issue, I had to pause some of the planned growth steps I’d been hoping to implement in my business. Had I had a bit of spare cash on hand, on behalf of the business, I might not have faced this issue, and I’d be heading into 2021 ready to grow, rather than aiming to recover.
Now, this is not to suggest that your small business should have significant excess revenue simply standing by. However, I do now believe business owners should give some thought to developing plans that can yield emergency stability. Working a small amount of savings into a financial plan helps to generate a modest fund over time. That way if and when a next crisis comes, there will be cash. These savings should be as stable and conservative as possible, so as to protect assets while generating modest growth.
The following are just a few examples I’d consider to be in this vein.
Index funds represent the closest thing to stock market trading I’ll mention. However, we aren’t talking about active (and risky) management of a stock portfolio. Rather, investing in index funds is a form of passive investment.
In this case, that basically means buying into a fund, or bundle of assets, that doesn’t require management. One example is the S&P, which is actually an index fund bundling 500 of the United States’ biggest companies. And in a given year, passive buy-in to the S&P tends to yield modest gains that exceed those made by the average active trader (particularly if said trader is a part-time amateur).
Putting a small portion of business earnings into an index fund can thus result in growing savings over time.
High-Yield Savings Accounts
An ordinary savings account is about the most modest way to reliably grow wealth over time. You put money into a bank account, and over time it generates interest — very slowly. You’ll protect your funds, and strictly speaking they will grow, though often enough that growth barely outpaces inflation.
A high-yield savings account is a similar concept that produces better results. Indeed, the benefits of high-yield savings accounts are in the name: you earn a higher interest rate on the money you put away. That doesn’t mean it’s a lucrative investment, and there are sometimes minimum required balances and maintenance fees to be aware of.
But the bottom line is that through high-yield compounding interest, these accounts can expand on your small business savings.
This site discussed buying into gold not too long ago as a strategic practice for individual investors. That was actually on the basis that there are some indications now could be a strategic time to invest for long-term potential.
More generally though, gold is typically valued as a stable asset and a hedge against inflation.
Most investors don’t net a tremendous gain from gold. But it does often serve to protect assets, and its trajectory over multi-year stretches tends to be positive. So, for small business owners looking for protection and the potential for very modest gains, keeping some rainy day funds in gold is an idea worth exploring as well.
In the end, the hope is of course that a rainy day fund never becomes necessary, and that your small business is never in need of emergency cash. Following 2020 though, even a small chunk of savings will be reassuring.
Done strategically, business saving might just help you to build up a financial cushion that will come in handy down the line.