# Learn How to Calculate Payback Period in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide

Since the payback period ignores what happens after breaking even, it’s not always perfect. You don’t see future cash flows or 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 the amount of time for a project to break even in cash collections using nominal dollars.

- In addition, the potential returns and estimated payback time of alternative projects the company could pursue instead can also be an influential determinant in the decision (i.e. opportunity costs).
- 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.
- As you can see in the example below, a DCF model is used to graph the payback period (middle graph below).
- Project Beta shows a faster recovery of the initial investment, indicating a shorter payback period compared to Project Alpha.
- For more detailed cash flow analysis, WACC is usually used in place of discount rate because it is a more accurate measurement of the financial opportunity cost of investments.

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. One of the biggest advantages of the payback period method is its simplicity. The method is extremely simple to understand, as it only requires one straightforward calculation.

## Discounted payback period formula

Hence, it’s an easy way to compare several projects and then to choose the project that has the shortest payback time. A payback period refers to the time it takes to earn back the cost of an investment. More specifically, it’s the length of time it takes a project to reach a break-even point. The breakeven point is the level at which the costs of production equal the revenue for a product or service. Did you know that although simple, the payback period is an essential tool used by finance professionals worldwide?

The trouble with piling all of the calculations into a formula is that you can’t easily see what numbers go where or what numbers are user inputs or hard-coded. First, we’ll calculate the metric under the non-discounted approach using the two assumptions 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 undertaken, the initial investment in the project will cost the company approximately $20 million. The discounted payback period, in theory, is the more accurate measure, since fundamentally, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar received in the future. Between mutually exclusive projects having similar return, the decision should be to invest in the project having the shortest payback period. To begin, the periodic cash flows of a project must be estimated and shown by each period in a table or spreadsheet.

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. 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.

People and corporations mainly invest their money to get paid back, which is why the payback period is so important. In essence, the shorter payback an investment has, the more attractive it becomes. Determining the payback period is useful for anyone and can be done by dividing the initial investment by the average cash flows. Comparing investment options with payback period analysis offers a straightforward perspective on potential returns. Investment professionals often use the payback period to gauge the risk and liquidity of various projects or assets by determining how quickly they can recoup their initial outlay.

## Advantages and Disadvantages of the Payback Period

Based on the project’s risk profile and the returns on comparable investments, the discount rate – i.e., the required rate of return – is assumed to be 10%. In particular, the added step of discounting a project’s cash flows is critical for projects with prolonged payback periods https://www.wave-accounting.net/ (i.e., 10+ years). The breakeven point is a specific price or value that an investment or project must reach so that the initial cost of that investment or project is completely returned. Whereas the payback period refers to the time it takes to reach the breakeven point.

## How to Calculate Payback Period in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide

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. 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. 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.

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. But there are a few important disadvantages that disqualify the payback period from being a primary factor in making investment decisions. First, it ignores the time value of money, which is a critical component of capital budgeting. For example, three projects can have the same payback period; however, they could have varying flows of cash. Cash flow is the inflow and outflow of cash or cash-equivalents of a project, an individual, an organization, or other entities.

Therefore, it would be more practical to consider the time value of money when deciding which projects to approve (or reject) – which is where the discounted payback period variation comes in. The Discounted Payback Period estimates the time needed for a project to generate enough cash flows to break even and become profitable. The discounted payback period determines the payback period using the time value of money. 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. In this article, we will explain the difference between the regular payback period and the discounted payback period.

The value obtained using the discounted payback period calculator will be closer to reality, although undoubtedly more pessimistic. 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. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more.

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. The payback period with the shortest payback time is generally regarded home health care invoice template as the best one. 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.

Companies often prefer investments with shorter payback periods because they want their money back fast. Machine X would cost $25,000 and would have a useful life of 10 years with zero salvage value. Under payback method, an investment project is accepted or rejected on the basis of payback period. Payback period means the period of time that a project requires to recover the money invested in it.

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.

Due to its ease of use, payback period is a common method used to express return on investments, though it is important to note it does not account for the time value of money. As a result, payback period is best used in conjunction with other metrics. In addition, the potential returns and estimated payback time of alternative projects the company could pursue instead can also be an influential determinant in the decision (i.e. opportunity costs). 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 project.

Just add up each period’s cash flow with the total from previous periods to get this number. To figure this out, you track when your profits match your initial costs. This blog post will unlock the power of Excel to make calculating your investment’s payback period straightforward and error-free. With our guidance, determining if or when an investment can become profitable becomes a less daunting task. The management of Health Supplement Inc. wants to reduce its labor cost by installing a new machine in its production process. For this purpose, two types of machines are available in the market – Machine X and Machine Y. Machine X would cost $18,000 where as Machine Y would cost $15,000.