Shaun Conrad is a Certified Public Accountant and CPA exam expert with a passion for teaching. After almost a decade of experience in public accounting, he created MyAccountingCourse.com to help people learn accounting & finance, pass the CPA exam, and start their career. But since the payback period metric rarely comes out to be a precise, whole number, the more practical formula is as follows. CFI is the global institution behind the financial modeling and valuation analyst FMVA® Designation.

## Payback method

The NPV and IRR methods compare the profitability of each investment by considering the time value of money for all cash flows related to the investment. Managers who are concerned about cash flow want to know how long it will take to recover the initial investment. Managers may also require a payback period equal to or less than some specified time period. For example, Julie Jackson, the owner of Jackson’s Quality Copies, may require a payback period of no more than five years, regardless of the NPV or IRR. The payback period is a fundamental capital budgeting tool in corporate finance, and perhaps the simplest method for evaluating the feasibility of undertaking a potential investment or how relationship data can create operational success project.

The sooner the break-even point is met, the more likely additional profits are to follow (or at the very least, the risk of losing capital on the project is significantly reduced). Each company will internally have its own set of standards for the timing criteria related to accepting (or declining) a project, but the industry that the company operates within also plays a critical role. As you can see in the example below, a DCF model is used to graph the payback period (middle graph below). Julia Kagan is a financial/consumer journalist and former senior editor, personal finance, of Investopedia. On the other hand, Jim could purchase the sand blaster and save $100 a week from without having to outsource his sand blasting.

It is easy to calculate and is often referred to as the “back of the envelope” calculation. Also, it is a simple measure of risk, as it shows how quickly money can be returned from an investment. However, there are additional considerations that should be taken into account when performing the capital budgeting process. For example, a firm may decide to invest in an asset with an initial cost of $1 million. Over the next five years, the firm receives positive cash flows that diminish over time. As seen from the graph below, the initial investment is fully offset by positive cash flows somewhere between periods 2 and 3.

## How Do I Calculate a Discounted Payback Period in Excel?

The purchase of machine would be desirable if it promises a payback period of 5 years or less. The simple payback period formula is calculated by dividing the cost of the project or investment by its annual cash inflows. Payback period is a financial or capital budgeting method that calculates the number of days required for an investment to produce cash flows equal to the original investment cost. In other words, it’s the amount of time it takes an investment to earn enough money to pay for itself or breakeven. This time-based measurement is particularly important to management for analyzing risk. To calculate the cumulative cash flow balance, add the present value of cash flows to the previous year’s balance.

- Use Excel’s present value formula to calculate the present value of cash flows.
- Also, it is a simple measure of risk, as it shows how quickly money can be returned from an investment.
- The answer is found by dividing $200,000 by $100,000, which is two years.
- Obviously, the longer it takes an investment to recoup its original cost, the more risky the investment.
- Over the next five years, the firm receives positive cash flows that diminish over time.

Depreciation is a non-cash expense and therefore has been ignored while calculating the payback period of the project. By adopting cloud accounting software like Deskera, you can track your costs, send purchase orders, overview your bills, generate expense reports, and much more – through a single, user-friendly platform. Others like to use it as an additional point of reference in a capital budgeting decision framework.

The cash flow balance in year zero is negative as it marks the initial outlay of capital. Therefore, the cumulative cash flow balance in year 1 equals the negative balance from year 0 plus the present value of cash flows from year 1. The discounted payback period is calculated by adding the year to the absolute value of the period’s cumulative cash flow balance and dividing it by the following year’s present value of cash self constructed assets flows. The payback period is the amount of time (usually measured in years) it takes to recover an initial investment outlay, as measured in after-tax cash flows. It is an important calculation used in capital budgeting to help evaluate capital investments.

Unlike other methods of capital budgeting, the payback period ignores the time value of money (TVM). This is the idea that money is worth more today than the same amount in the future because of the earning potential of the present money. The payback period is the amount of time it takes to recover the cost of an investment. Simply put, it is the length of time an investment reaches a breakeven point.

## Discounted Payback Period Calculation Analysis

This is an especially good rule to follow when you must choose between one or more projects or investments. The reason for this is because the longer cash is tied up, the less chance there is for you to invest elsewhere, and grow as a business. Generally speaking, an investment can either have a short or a long payback period.

While the payback period shows us how long it takes for the return on investment, it does not show what the return on investment is. Referring to our example, cash flows continue beyond period 3, but they are not relevant in accordance with the decision rule in the payback method. The discounted payback period is often used to better account for some of the shortcomings, such as using the present value of future cash flows. For this reason, the simple payback period may be favorable, while the discounted payback period might indicate an unfavorable investment.

## Is a Higher Payback Period Better Than a Lower Payback Period?

The other project would have a payback period of 4.25 years but would generate higher returns on investment than the first project. However, based solely on the payback period, the firm would select the first project over this alternative. The implications of this are that firms may choose investments with shorter payback periods at the expense of profitability.

## Payback Period Calculation Example

Many managers and investors thus prefer to use NPV as a tool for making investment decisions. The NPV is the difference between the present value of cash coming in and the current value of cash going out over a period of time. The payback period is a method commonly used by investors, financial professionals, and corporations to calculate investment returns. Management uses the cash payback period equation to see how quickly they will get the company’s money back from an investment—the quicker the better. In Jim’s example, he has the option of purchasing equipment that will be paid back 40 weeks or 100 weeks.

This survey also shows that companies with capital budgets exceeding $500,000,000 are more likely to use these methods than are companies with smaller capital budgets. Assume Company A invests $1 million in a project that is expected to save the company $250,000 each year. If we divide $1 million by $250,000, we arrive at a payback period of four years for this investment. The discounted payback period determines the payback period using the time value of money. Jim estimates that the new buffing wheel will save 10 labor hours a week.

Based solely on the payback period method, the second project is a better investment if the company wants to prioritize recapturing its capital investment as quickly as possible. There are a variety of ways to calculate a return on investment (ROI) — net present value, internal rate of return, breakeven — but the simplest is payback period. Investors may use payback in conjunction with return on investment (ROI) to determine whether or not to invest or enter a trade. Corporations and business managers also use the payback period to evaluate the relative favorability of potential projects in conjunction with tools like IRR or NPV. The payback period is favored when a company is under liquidity constraints because it can show how long it should take to recover the money laid out for the project. If short-term cash flows are a concern, a short payback period may be more attractive than a longer-term investment that has a higher NPV.

Most capital budgeting formulas, such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and discounted cash flow, consider the TVM. So if you pay an investor tomorrow, it must include an opportunity cost. Although calculating the payback period is useful in financial and capital budgeting, this metric has applications in other industries. It can be used by homeowners and businesses to calculate the return on energy-efficient technologies such as solar panels and insulation, including maintenance and upgrades.

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