# Payback Period Reference Library Business

The discounted payback period is a modified version of the payback period that accounts for the time value of money. Both metrics are used to calculate the amount of time that it will take for a project to “break even,” or to get the point where the net cash flows generated cover the initial cost of the project. Both the payback period and the discounted payback period can be used to evaluate the profitability and feasibility of a specific project. 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.

- Inflows are any items that go into the investment, such as deposits, dividends, or earnings.
- The payback period also facilitates side-by-side analysis of two competing projects.
- To make the best decision about whether to pursue a project or not, a company’s management needs to decide which metrics to prioritize.
- 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.
- The payback period for this project is 3.375 years which is longer than the maximum desired payback period of the management (3 years).

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 https://simple-accounting.org/ and 3. Assume that Company A has a project requiring an initial cash outlay of $3,000. The project is expected to return $1,000 each period for the next five periods, and the appropriate discount rate is 4%.

Firstly, it fails to consider the time value of money, as cash flow obtained in the initial years of a project is valued more highly than cash flow received later in the project’s process. 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 a strong indication as to which project to choose. Getting repaid or recovering the initial cost of a project or investment should be achieved as quickly as it allows. However, not all projects and investments have the same time horizon, so the shortest possible payback period needs to be nested within the larger context of that time horizon. For example, the payback period on a home improvement project can be decades while the payback period on a construction project may be five years or less.

## Significance and Use of Payback Period Formula

Use Excel’s present value formula to calculate the present value of cash flows. 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 when using the discounted payback period is to accept projects that have a payback period that is shorter than the value of grant writing software the target timeframe. Next, assuming the project starts with a large cash outflow, or investment to begin the project, the future discounted cash inflows are netted against the initial investment outflow. The discounted payback period process is applied to each additional period’s cash inflow to find the point at which the inflows equal the outflows.

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. When calculating break-even in business, businesses use several types of payback periods. The net present value of the NPV method is one of the common processes of calculating the payback period, which calculates the future earnings at the present value. The discounted payback period is commonly utilized in capital budgeting procedures to assess the profitability of a project.

## Payback Period

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. 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. According to payback method, machine Y is more desirable than machine X because it has a shorter payback period than machine X.

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. The discounted payback period is a capital budgeting procedure used to determine the profitability of a project. A discounted payback period gives the number of years it takes to break even from undertaking the initial expenditure, by discounting future cash flows and recognizing the time value of money. The metric is used to evaluate the feasibility and profitability of a given project.

The payback method should not be used as the sole criterion for approval of a capital investment. In short, a variety of considerations should be discussed when purchasing an asset, and especially when the investment is a substantial one. Keep in mind that the cash payback period principle does not work with all types of investments like stocks and bonds equally as well as it does with capital investments. The main reason for this is it doesn’t take into consideration the time value of money.

In order to account for the time value of money, the discounted payback period must be used to discount the cash inflows of the project at the proper interest rate. The discounted payback period is the number of years it takes to pay back the initial investment after discounting cash flows. In Excel, create a cell for the discounted rate and columns for the year, cash flows, the present value of the cash flows, and the cumulative cash flow balance. Input the known values (year, cash flows, and discount rate) in their respective cells.

## Using the Payback Method

At this point, the project’s initial cost has been paid off, with the payback period being reduced to zero. The payback period is a measure organizations use to determine the time needed to recover the initial investment in a business project. It is a crucial factor in decision-making, as a shorter payback period signifies a faster return to profitability. However, one limitation of the payback period is its disregard for the time value of money, which refers to the declining worth of money over time. The concept of the time value of money highlights that the present value of money is higher than its future value.

Projecting a break-even time in years means little if the after-tax cash flow estimates don’t materialize. The table indicates that the real payback period is located somewhere between Year 4 and Year 5. There is $400,000 of investment yet to be paid back at the end of Year 4, and there is $900,000 of cash flow projected for Year 5. The analyst assumes the same monthly amount of cash flow in Year 5, which means that he can estimate final payback as being just short of 4.5 years. 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. A higher payback period means it will take longer for a company to cover its initial investment.

Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. 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.

## Payback Period: Definition, Formula & Examples

It does not account for the time value of money, the effects of inflation, or the complexity of investments that may have unequal cash flow over time. The breakeven point is the price or value that an investment or project must rise to cover the initial costs or outlay. The formula to calculate the payback period of an investment depends on whether the periodic cash inflows from the project are even or uneven.

## When Would a Company Use the Payback Period for Capital Budgeting?

Management will set an acceptable payback period for individual investments based on whether the management is risk averse or risk taking. This target may be different for different projects because higher risk corresponds with higher return thus longer payback period being acceptable for profitable projects. For lower return projects, management will only accept the project if the risk is low which means payback period must be short. Payback period is the time in which the initial outlay of an investment is expected to be recovered through the cash inflows generated by the investment.

By forecasting free cash flows into the future, it is then possible to use the XIRR function in Excel to determine what discount rate sets the Net Present Value of the project to zero (the definition of IRR). The Payback Period measures the amount of time required to recoup the cost of an initial investment via the cash flows generated by the investment. Payback period is the amount of time it takes to break even on an investment. The appropriate timeframe for an investment will vary depending on the type of project or investment and the expectations of those undertaking it. Investors may use payback in conjunction with return on investment (ROI) to determine whether or not to invest or enter a trade.

On the other hand, Jim could purchase the sand blaster and save $100 a week from without having to outsource his sand blasting. 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. 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). First, we’ll calculate the metric under the non-discounted approach using the two assumptions below. We’ll now move to a modeling exercise, which you can access by filling out the form below.