Monica Greer holds a PhD in economics, a Master’s in economics, and a Bachelor’s in finance. She is currently a senior quantitative analyst and has published two books on cost modeling. In this case, your average monthly revenue for the first six months is $10,000 per month. As you can see in the example below, a DCF model is used to graph the payback period (middle graph below). 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).

If the payback period of a project is shorter than or equal to the management’s maximum desired payback period, the project is accepted, otherwise rejected. For example, if a company wants to recoup the cost of a machine within 5 years of purchase, the maximum desired payback period of the company would be 5 years. The purchase of machine would be desirable if it promises a payback period of 5 years or less. Understanding the time value of money (TVM) is key for anyone who needs to make important financial decisions. A discounted cash flow analysis is a method to value an investment based on expected future cash flows, adjusting for the time value of money.

  1. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more.
  2. During the course of business, the management comes across various opportunities that lead to the expansion of existing projects or new projects.
  3. Since some business projects don’t last an entire year and others are ongoing, you can supplement this equation for any income period.
  4. In other words, it’s the amount of time it takes an investment to earn enough money to pay for itself or breakeven.

Despite its drawbacks, the payback method is the simplest method to analyze different project/investments. The payback period for this project is 3.375 years which is longer than the maximum desired payback period of the management (3 years). According to payback period analysis, the purchase of machine X is desirable because its payback period is 2.5 years which is shorter than the maximum payback period of the company. Calculating the payback period in Excel helps businesses see how fast they get their investment back.

Calculating Payback Using the Averaging Method

On the other hand, Jim could purchase the sand blaster and save $100 a week from without having to outsource his sand blasting. Kevin Morris talks about the importance of not overly focusing on the inward-facing components of product management. Take your learning and productivity to the next level with our Premium Templates. In closing, as shown in the completed output sheet, the break-even point occurs between Year 4 and Year 5. So, we take four years and then add ~0.26 ($1mm ÷ $3.7mm), which we can convert into months as roughly 3 months, or a quarter of a year (25% of 12 months). From the finished output of the first example, we can see the answer comes out to 2.5 years (i.e., 2 years and 6 months).

The term payback period refers to 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. More liquidity means more availability of funds to invest in more projects. The payback method is used by individuals also to analyze investment decisions. According to payback method, machine Y is more desirable than machine X because it has a shorter payback period than machine X. Calculating the payback period is straightforward since you only need to divide the annual inflow (cash flow) by the initial outflow (investment).

How to Account for Discounted Cash Flow

If the payback period is short, this means you’ll recover your costs quickly. In Excel, you divide the total invested money by the yearly cash flow to get the payback period. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, trying to figure out how quickly an investment will pay for itself, then understanding how to calculate the payback period in Excel is crucial. Once the payback period has been completed, the business will enter the profitability period, ceteris paribus, which means that “other things being equal or held constant”. In other words, nothing has changed in terms of the demand for the firm’s product, or the costs of supplying its product. Between mutually exclusive projects having similar return, the decision should be to invest in the project having the shortest payback period.

Decision Rule

To do this, you typically forecast how much revenue will be generated on a month-to-month basis over time. The easiest method to audit and understand is to have all the data in one table and then break out the calculations line by line. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers.

Payback method

Some projects may generate higher cash flows in the later life of the project. Looking at the example investment project in the diagram above, the key columns to examine are the annual “cash flow” and “cumulative cash flow” columns. Payback focuses on cash flows and looks at the cumulative cash flow of the investment up to the point at which the original investment has been recouped from the investment cash flows. Using a discounted cash flow calculator and acknowledging your personal discount rate can help you make the right financial decision.

Payback Period

The Payback Period Calculator can calculate payback periods, discounted payback periods, average returns, and schedules of investments. You can lay out all your options and see which one pays back fastest using similar steps—key for smart financial decisions! By calculating each project’s payback period side-by-side in an organized fashion allows investors and analysts alike to assess various opportunities efficiently. This helps visually track when cumulative earnings offset the investment cost.

The simple payback period formula is calculated by dividing the cost of the project or investment by its annual cash inflows. 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. 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. Company C is planning to undertake a project requiring initial investment of $105 million. The project is expected to generate $25 million per year in net cash flows for 7 years.

Start by collecting all the financial details of your investment project. Look at past data, market research, or expert forecasts to estimate these figures accurately. Since the payback period ignores what happens after breaking even, it’s not always perfect. You don’t see future cash flows or successful mompreneur how the value of money can change over time. Despite these issues, many people use this method because it’s straightforward and does a fast job at sizing up an investment’s risk. The payback period is calculated by dividing the initial capital outlay of an investment by the annual cash flow.

Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. Next, the second column (Cumulative Cash Flows) tracks the net gain/(loss) to date by adding the current year’s cash flow amount to the net cash flow balance from the prior year. A longer payback time, on the other hand, suggests that the invested capital is going to be tied up for a long period.

Projects having larger cash inflows in the earlier periods are generally ranked higher when appraised with payback period, compared to similar projects having larger cash inflows in the later periods. Unlike the regular payback period, the discounted payback period metric considers this depreciation of your money. The value obtained using the discounted payback period calculator will be closer to reality, although undoubtedly more pessimistic. In essence, the payback period is used very similarly to a Breakeven Analysis, but instead of the number of units to cover fixed costs, it considers the amount of time required to return an investment. The decision rule using the payback period is to minimize the time taken for the return on investment. 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.


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