Payback Period Method Definition, Formula & Calculation Video & Lesson Transcript

calculate payback

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. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. For example, if the building was purchased mid-year, the first year’s cash flow would be $36,000, while subsequent years would be $72,000.

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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. Small businesses in particular can benefit from payback analysis simply by calculating the payback period of any investment they’re considering. 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. If short-term cash flows are a concern, a short payback period may be more attractive than a longer-term investment that has a higher NPV.

Fixed Loan Term

The payback period also facilitates side-by-side analysis of two competing projects. If one has a longer payback period than the other, it might not be the better option. The other project would have a payback period of 4.25 years but would generate higher returns on investment than the first project. However, based solely on the payback period, the firm would select the first project over this alternative.

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Perhaps the simplest method for evaluating the feasibility of undertaking a potential investment or project, the payback period is a fundamental capital budgeting tool in corporate finance. In the U.S., mortgages are required to be repaid monthly using fixed or variable rates, or even switched from one to the other during the life of the loan. For fixed-rate mortgages, the monthly repayment amount is fixed throughout the loan term. Borrowers can choose to pay more (but not less) than the required repayment amount. For instance, the calculator can be used to determine whether a 15-year or 30-year mortgage makes more sense, a common decision most people have to make when purchasing a house.

Discounted payback period formula

Payback period is typically defined as the length of time it takes for the investment to recover the initial investment. It can be expressed in years, months, or any other time period, depending on the length of the investment horizon. To solve the mentioned above limitations, other methods can be used or at least considered when deciding between some projects. These methods are, but not limited to, Net Present Value (NPV), Internal Rate of Return (IRR), and the discounted payback period.

calculate payback

Many managers and investors thus prefer to use NPV as a tool for making investment decisions. The NPV is the difference between the present value of cash coming in and the current value of cash going out over a period of time. The payback period bookkeeping terms disregards the time value of money and is determined by counting the number of years it takes to recover the funds invested. For example, if it takes five years to recover the cost of an investment, the payback period is five years.

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The discounted payback period determines the payback period using the time value of money. 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. 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. There is a statute of limitations on back pay, meaning employees have a limited window of time to sue for these wages.

  • For instance, an emergency fund can come in handy when incidents like medical emergencies or car accidents happen.
  • The payback period also facilitates side-by-side analysis of two competing projects.
  • Small businesses in particular can benefit from payback analysis simply by calculating the payback period of any investment they’re considering.
  • The calculated results will display the loan term required to pay off the loan at this monthly installment.

One way corporate financial analysts do this is with the payback period. 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. Unlike net present value , profitability index and internal rate of return method, payback method does not take into account the time value of money. A modified variant of this method is the discounted payback method which considers the time value of money. Under payback method, an investment project is accepted or rejected on the basis of payback period.

Advantages and Limitations of Using Payback Period Analysis

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  • Any investments with longer payback periods are generally not as enticing.
  • Wage violations and back pay issues fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S.
  • For example, if it takes five years to recover the cost of an investment, the payback period is five years.
  • Positive cash flow that occurs during a period, such as revenue or accounts receivable means an increase in liquid assets.
  • It’s similar to determining how much money the investor currently needs to invest at this same rate in order to get the same cash flows at the same time in the future.

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. Others like to use it as an additional point of reference in a capital budgeting decision framework. Average cash flows represent the money going into and out of the investment. Inflows are any items that go into the investment, such as deposits, dividends, or earnings.

Terms Similar to the Payback Method

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. Whether back payment is a result of accidental or intentional causes, employees may still be subject to receive payment. To help reduce the risk of back pay due to accounting errors, consider using accounting software. Now that you know the reasons for back pay, let’s take a look at how to recover back pay.

calculate payback

It’s important to consider these factors when interpreting the payback period calculation, as they can have a significant impact on the final result. Additionally, Excel provides various functions and tools that can be used to calculate payback period, such as the NPV and IRR functions. These functions take into account the time value of money and provide a more accurate measure of the profitability of an investment. Another advantage of using payback period as a financial analysis tool is that it is easy to understand and calculate. Unlike other complex financial metrics, payback period only requires basic arithmetic calculations, making it accessible to a wider range of investors and business managers. Below is a business case in which you will play the role of the chief managerial accountant advising the CEO and the board of directors about a key strategic investment opportunity.


In capital budgeting, the payback period method enables managers and top executives to compare between different projects in terms of how fast the investment cost will be recovered. 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. Acting as a simple risk analysis, the payback period formula is easy to understand. It gives a quick overview of how quickly you can expect to recover your initial investment.