How to Calculate the Payback Period With Excel

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how to find payback period

In this guide, we’ll be covering what the payback period is, what are the pros and cons of the method, and how you can calculate it, with concrete business examples. Others like to use it as an additional point of reference in a capital budgeting decision framework. But since the payback period metric rarely comes out to be a precise, whole number, the more practical formula is as follows. A longer payback time, on the other hand, suggests that the invested capital is going to be tied up for a long period.

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how to find payback period

For example, if it takes five years to recover the cost of an investment, the payback period is five years. 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.

Illustrative Payback Period Example

The metric is used to evaluate the feasibility and profitability of a given project. The shorter a discounted payback period is means the sooner a project or investment will generate cash flows to cover the initial cost. A general rule to consider comparing deferred expenses vs prepaid expenses when using the discounted payback period is to accept projects that have a payback period that is shorter than the target timeframe. To calculate the cumulative cash flow balance, add the present value of cash flows to the previous year’s balance.

What is Payback Period?

When deciding on any project to embark on, a company or investor wants to know when their investment will pay off, meaning when the cash flows generated from the project will cover the cost of the project. Considering that the payback period is simple and takes a few seconds to calculate, it can be suitable for projects of small investments. The method is also beneficial if you want to measure the cash liquidity of a project, and need to know how quickly you can get your hands on your cash.

  1. For example, if a payback period is stated as 2.5 years, it means it will take 2½ years to receive your entire initial investment back.
  2. Discount rate is useful because it can take future expected payments from different periods and discount everything to a single point in time for comparison purposes.
  3. For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online.

The first column (Cash Flows) tracks the cash flows of each year – for instance, Year 0 reflects the $10mm outlay whereas the others account for the $4mm inflow of cash flows. As a general rule of thumb, the shorter the payback period, the more attractive the investment, and the better off the company would be. Since IRR does not take risk into account, it should be looked at in conjunction with the payback period to determine which project is most attractive. As an alternative to looking at how quickly an investment is paid back, and given the drawback outline above, it may be better for firms to look at the internal rate of return (IRR) when comparing projects. The Payback Period shows how long it takes for a business to recoup an investment. This type of analysis allows firms to compare alternative investment opportunities and decide on a project that returns its investment in the shortest time if that criteria is important to them.

The opposite stands for investments with longer payback periods – they’re less useful and less likely to be undertaken. A higher payback period means it will take longer for a company to cover its initial investment. All else being equal, it’s usually better for a company to have a lower payback period as this typically represents a less risky investment. The quicker a company can recoup its initial investment, the less exposure the company has to a potential loss on the endeavor. Conceptually, the payback period is the amount of time between the date of the initial investment (i.e., project cost) and the date when the break-even point has been reached. The decision rule using the payback period is to minimize the time taken for the return on investment.

The discounted payback period of 7.27 years is longer than the 5 years as calculated by the regular payback period because the time value of money is factored in. One of the most important capital budgeting techniques businesses can practice is known as the payback period method or payback analysis. That’s why business owners and managers need to use capital budgeting techniques to determine which projects will deliver the best returns, and yield the most profitable outcome. Assume Company A invests $1 million in a project that is expected to save the company $250,000 each year.

First, we’ll calculate the metric under the non-discounted approach using the two assumptions below. For instance, let’s say you own a retail company and are considering a proposed growth strategy that involves opening up new store locations in the hopes of benefiting from the expanded geographic reach. Thus, the project is deemed illiquid and the probability of there being comparatively more profitable projects with quicker recoveries of the initial outflow is far greater.

Positive cash flow that occurs during a period, such as revenue or accounts receivable means an increase in liquid assets. On the other hand, negative cash flow such as the payment for expenses, rent, and taxes indicate a decrease in liquid assets. Oftentimes, cash flow is conveyed as a net of the sum total of both positive and negative cash flows during a period, as is done for the calculator. The study of cash flow provides a general indication of solvency; generally, having adequate cash reserves is a positive sign of financial health for an individual or organization. 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.

For instance, two projects may have the same payback period, but one generates more cash flow in the early years and the other generates more profitability in the later years. In this case, the payback method does not provide how much will property taxes go up for adding a bedroom a strong indication as to which project to choose. 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.

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