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. In particular, the added step of discounting a project’s cash flows is critical for projects with prolonged payback periods (i.e., 10+ years). In project management, this measure is often used as a part of a cost-benefit analysis, supplementing other profitability-focused indicators such as internal rate of return or return on investment. It can however also be leveraged to measure the success of an investment or project in hindsight and determine the point at which an initial investment has actually paid back.

The project has an initial investment of $1,000 and will generate annual cash flows of $200 for the next 5 years. The main advantage is that the metric takes into account money’s time value. This is important because money today is worth more than money in the future. The discount rate represents the opportunity cost of investing your money. These two calculations, although similar, may not return the same result due to the discounting of cash flows. For example, projects with higher cash flows toward the end of a project’s life will experience greater discounting due to compound interest.

This can be done using the present value function and a table in a spreadsheet program. The following tables contain the cash flow

forecasts of each of these options. The discount rate was set at 12% and

remains constant for all periods. According to payback period analysis, the purchase of machine X is desirable because its payback period is 2.5 years which is shorter than the maximum payback period of the company. 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.

In this analysis, 3 project alternatives are compared with each other, using the discounted payback period as one of the success measures. 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.

- For this reason, the simple payback period may be favorable, while the discounted payback period might indicate an unfavorable investment.
- The discounted payback method may seem like an attractive approach at first glance.
- The project is expected to return $1,000 each period for the next five periods, and the appropriate discount rate is 4%.
- The shorter the payback period, the more likely the project will be accepted – all else being equal.
- Unlike the simple payback period, which doesn’t account for the time value of money, the Discounted Payback Period takes this into consideration.

This approach might look a bit similar to net present value method but is, in fact, just a poor compromise between NPV and simple payback technique. The discounted payback method takes into account the present value of cash flows. The Discounted Payback Period calculation takes these cash flows and discount rate into account, providing a more nuanced understanding of the return period of an investment.

## Understanding Discounted Payback Period

Option 1 has a discounted payback period of

5.07 years, option 3 of 4.65 years while with option 2, a recovery of the

investment is not achieved. The generic payback period, on the other

hand, does not involve discounting. Thus, the value of a cash flow equals its notional

value, regardless of whether it occurs in the 1st or in the 6th

year. However, it

tends to be imprecise in cases of long cash flow projection horizons or cash

flows that increase significantly over time. The payback period for this project is 3.375 years which is longer than the maximum desired payback period of the management (3 years).

In this example, the cumulative discounted

cash flow does not turn positive at all. In other words, the investment will not be recovered

within the time horizon of this projection. One of the disadvantages of discounted payback period analysis is that it ignores the cash flows after the payback period. Thus, it cannot tell a corporate manager or investor how the investment will perform afterward and how much value it will add in total. The discounted payback period is a capital budgeting procedure which is frequently used to determine the profitability of a project. It is an extension of the payback period method of capital budgeting, which does not account for the time value of money.

Alternatively, go to one of several financial online financial calculator sites. Management then looks at a variety of metrics in order to obtain complete information. Comparing various profitability metrics for all projects is important when making a well-informed decision. Discounted what are the generally accepted accounting principles payback period serves as a way to tell whether an investment is worth undertaking. The lower the payback period, the more quickly an investment will pay for itself. Depreciation is a non-cash expense and therefore has been ignored while calculating the payback period of the project.

- The firm expects cash inflows of $700,000 per year for the next four years from the sale of this software.
- The purchase of machine would be desirable if it promises a payback period of 5 years or less.
- In other circumstances, we may see projects where the payback occurs during, rather than at the end of, a given year.
- One way corporate financial analysts do this is with the payback period.
- This means that you would need to earn a return of at least 19.6% on your investment to break even.

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. Essentially, you can determine how long you’re going to need until your original investment amount is equal to other cash flows. We will also cover the formula to calculate it and some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages.

Most capital budgeting formulas, such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and discounted cash flow, consider the TVM. So if you pay an investor tomorrow, it must include an opportunity cost. When the negative cumulative discounted cash flows become positive, or recover, DPB occurs. The period of time that a project or investment takes for the present value of future cash flows to equal the initial cost provides an indication of when the project or investment will break even. The point after that is when cash flows will be above the initial cost. The difference between both indicators is

that the discounted payback period takes the time value of money into account.

## Calculator for the Discounted Payback Period

Initially an investment of $100,000 can be expected to make an income of $35k per annum for 4 years. Once you have this information, you can use the following formula to calculate discounted payback period. The Discounted Payback Period estimates the time needed for a project to generate enough cash flows to break even and become profitable. To begin, the periodic cash flows of a project must be estimated and shown by each period in a table or spreadsheet. These cash flows are then reduced by their present value factor to reflect the discounting process.

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%. The discounted payback period calculation begins with the -$3,000 cash outlay in the starting period.

## Examples of Discounted Payback Period

Remember, the discounted payback period provides the time in which the initial investment will be recovered in terms of discounted or present value cash flows. Unlike the simple payback period, it provides a more realistic timeframe, factoring in the time value of money. The time value of money is the concept that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future, because money can earn interest or returns if invested. Payback period refers to how many years it will take to pay back the initial investment. The simple payback period doesn’t take into account money’s time value.

## Payback period formula for even cash flow:

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. Cash outflows include any fees or charges that are subtracted from the balance. For example, if solar panels cost $5,000 to install and the savings are $100 each month, it would take 4.2 years to reach the payback period. In most cases, this is a pretty good payback period as experts say it can take as much as years for residential homeowners in the United States to break even on their investment.

Amanda Bellucco-Chatham is an editor, writer, and fact-checker with years of experience researching personal finance topics. Specialties include general financial planning, career development, lending, retirement, tax preparation, and credit.

One observation to make from the example above is that the discounted payback period of the project is reached exactly at the end of a year. In other circumstances, we may see projects where the payback occurs during, rather than at the end of, a given year. Despite these limitations, it is still a useful tool for initial investment screening and can provide valuable insights when used in conjunction with other financial metrics.

## Discounted payback period

Julia Kagan is a financial/consumer journalist and former senior editor, personal finance, of Investopedia. Read this section on the Payback Method of investing and review the examples of how this method is used. Suppose a company is considering whether to approve or reject a proposed project.