Cathy currently owns a small manufacturing business that produces 5,000 cashmere scarfs each year. However, if Cathy purchases a more efficient machine, she’ll be able to produce 10,000 scarfs each year. Using the new machine is expected to produce an additional $150,000 in cash flow each year that it’s in use. We’ll explain what the payback period is and provide you with the formula for calculating it. By adopting cloud accounting software like Deskera, you can track your costs, send purchase orders, overview your bills, generate expense reports, and much more – through a single, user-friendly platform. In this guide, we’ll be covering what the payback period is, what are the pros and cons of the method, and how you can calculate it, with concrete business examples.

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, simple payback period and especially when the investment is a substantial one. To calculate the cumulative cash flow balance, add the present value of cash flows to the previous year’s balance.

## Limitations of Using a Payback Period for Analysis

The payback period is the amount of time it will take to recoup the initial cost of an investment, or to reach its break-even point. 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. Corporations and business managers also use the payback period to evaluate the relative favorability of potential projects in conjunction with tools like IRR or NPV. The payback period can be a valuable tool for analysis when used properly to determine whether a business should undertake a particular investment.

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 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. One of the major characteristics of the payback period is that it ignores the value of money over time. The payback period formula calculates the years it will take to recover the invested funds from the particular business.

## How to Calculate the Time Value of Money?

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. So it would take two years before opening the new store locations has reached its break-even point and the initial investment has been recovered. With active investing, you can hand select each individual stock or ETF you wish to add to your portfolio. Using automated investing, you can choose from groups of pre-selected stocks.

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- Similar to a break-even analysis, the payback period is an important metric, particularly for small business owners who may not have the cash flow available to tie funds up for several years.
- For example, imagine a company invests $200,000 in new manufacturing equipment which results in a positive cash flow of $50,000 per year.
- If the cumulative cash flow drops to a negative value some time after it has reached a positive value, thereby changing the payback period, this formula can’t be applied.
- 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.

The breakeven point is the price or value that an investment or project must rise to cover the initial costs or outlay. The answer is found by dividing $200,000 by $100,000, which is two years. The second project will take less time to pay back, and the company’s earnings potential is greater.

## Payback Method Example #2

Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data. Using the subtraction method, one starts by subtracting individual annual cash flows from the initial investment amount, and then does the division. Using the averaging method, the initial amount of the investment is divided by annualized cash flows an investment is projected to generate.

To determine how to calculate payback period in practice, you simply divide the initial cash outlay of a project by the amount of net cash inflow that the project generates each year. For the purposes of calculating the payback period formula, you can assume that the net cash inflow is the same each year. Calculating the payback period is also useful in financial forecasting, where you can use the net cash flow formula to determine how quickly you can recoup your initial investment. Whether you’re using accounting software in your business or are using a manual accounting system, you can easily calculate your payback period.