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. You can lay out all your options and see which one pays back fastest using similar steps—key for smart financial decisions!

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A shorter payback period helps limit the negative financial impact of adverse events like these. Project managers and business owners use the payback period to make investment decisions. After the payback period is over, your project has recovered its initial capital investment and starts making profits. The sooner you can reach this stage, the sooner you can start enjoying the project’s financial benefits. Since some business projects don’t last an entire year and others are ongoing, you can supplement this equation for any income period.

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. Calculating your payback period can be helpful in the decision-making process. It may be the deciding factor in whether you should go ahead with the purchase of that big-ticket asset, or hold off until your cash flow is better.

First, you need the cost of your initial investment and your expected annual cash flows. 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. 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.

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  1. In Jim’s example, he has the option of purchasing equipment that will be paid back 40 weeks or 100 weeks.
  2. To calculate the cumulative cash flow balance, add the present value of cash flows to the previous year’s balance.
  3. 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.
  4. Ideally, management would not like to forgo any good opportunity but due to capital restraints, it has to choose between projects.

This helps visually track when cumulative earnings offset the investment cost. It’s like filling up a bucket drop by drop until it overflows; each drop is your yearly profit adding up over time. 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. For the PMP exam, you should understand what the payback period is, how to calculate it, and that organizations use this tool in their project selection criteria when determining which projects to pursue.

The Formula for how to calculate Payback Period in Excel

Jim estimates that the new buffing wheel will save 10 labor hours a week. Thus, at $250 a week, the buffer will have generated enough income (cash savings) https://simple-accounting.org/ to pay for itself in 40 weeks. Without considering the time value of money, it is difficult or impossible to determine which project is worth considering.

By calculating each project’s payback period side-by-side in an organized fashion allows investors and analysts alike to assess various opportunities efficiently. It’s a common practice to calculate payback periods in the business world. As a result, project managers should understand how the payback period plays an influential role when a project might be selected.


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. The payback period is calculated by dividing the initial grant scam and fraud alerts capital outlay of an investment by the annual cash flow. But there are a few important disadvantages that disqualify the payback period from being a primary factor in making investment decisions.

Overview: What is the payback period?

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 flows. According to payback method, the project that promises a quick recovery of initial investment is considered desirable. 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. You can use a simple formula to find out how soon an investment will pay for itself.

The metric is used to evaluate the feasibility and profitability of a given project. 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.

More liquidity means more availability of funds to invest in more projects. The payback method is used by individuals also to analyze investment decisions. Also, the method does not take into account the cash flows post the return of investment. Some projects may generate higher cash flows in the later life of the project.

Excel doesn’t have a dedicated “payback period” function, but you can use other functions like “CUMIPMT” or create a custom formula to find it. They can use that returned money sooner for other projects or opportunities. This is when your project has paid itself off – that’s your payback period!

Example 1: Even Cash Flows

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. At this point, the project’s initial cost has been paid off, with the payback period being reduced to zero. The payback period is the amount of time required for cash inflows generated by a project to offset its initial cash outflow. This calculation is useful for risk reduction analysis, since a project that generates a quick return is less risky than one that generates the same return over a longer period of time. There are two ways to calculate the payback period, which are described below.

Calculating the payback period for the potential investment is essential. While you know up front you’ll save a lot of money by purchasing a building, you’ll also want to know how long it will take to recoup your initial investment. That’s what the payback period calculation shows, adding up your yearly savings until the $400,000 investment has been recouped. Capital equipment is purchased to increase cash flow by saving money or earning money from the asset purchased.