Payback method formula, example, explanation, advantages, disadvantages

The Initial Investment signifies the amount spent at the start of the project or investment. As an investor, you could get a wrong impression from this method. You could accept a considerably long payback period and forget about inflation and money losing its value. Depreciation is a non-cash expense and therefore has been ignored while calculating the payback period of the project.

You must be able to show profitability on a project, and the payback period method does not consider this important metric. Depending on the type of business being run, there could be countless opportunities for investments and different projects. If you were a manager that had 20 different proposals to look and analyze, it is going to be difficult to figure out which ones to focus on.

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. When talking about the time value of money, it assumes that money coming in sooner is going to be more valuable as it can be used to make more. The payback period method completely ignores the time value of money, whether that is a positive or a negative thing for the project and business.

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James Woodruff has been a management consultant to more than 1,000 small businesses. As a senior management consultant and owner, he used his technical expertise to conduct an analysis of a company’s operational, financial and business management issues. James has been writing business and finance related topics for work.chron,, and e-commerce websites since 2007.

In this case, the payback method does not provide a strong indication as to which project to choose. Payback period is a fundamental investment appraisal technique in corporate financial management. It is a measure of computing sales tax how long it takes for a company to recover its initial investment in a project. It is one of the simplest capital budgeting techniques and, for this reason, is commonly used to evaluate and compare capital projects.

  • One way corporate financial analysts do this is with the payback period.
  • It’s an excellent tool for comparing investments of a similar type.
  • 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.
  • The payback period will be able to show exactly which investment is going to be better based on ROI, which should make the decision easier.
  • The purchase of machine would be desirable if it promises a payback period of 5 years or less.

The sooner money used for capital investments is replaced, the sooner it can be applied to other capital investments. A quicker payback period also reduces the risk of loss occurring from possible changes in economic or market conditions over a longer period of time. If the project generates different cash inflows every year, the payback period can be calculated by using this formula. The payback period is a common (but not the best) tool for screening a company’s potential investments.

Example of Limitations of Payback Period

Short-term cash flow is only a small part of the equation and should not be the only goal of a project. There are some very big issues to observe with a payback period method, the first being that it only looks at cash flow for a certain time frame. If a business is just looking to see how quickly they can break even on their investment, this is fine, but that is certainly not always the case. The return on investment, after the initial investment is paid back, will not be a factor in these scores, and that can be very short-sighted.

Major Advantages and Disadvantages of the Payback Period

Offers Quick Evaluation Determining which projects can generate fast returns is important to companies especially those with limited resources. Managers of such companies use this method to make a quick evaluation regarding projects with the small investment and short payback period. The PBP measures the point at which the total cash inflows from an investment equal the initial outlay or in other words, the time it takes for an investment to become profitable.

Advantages of Payback Period

It’s an excellent tool for comparing investments of a similar type. It does not account for the fact that money received in the future is worth less than money received today due to factors such as inflation and the opportunity cost of capital. When you start a project, returns could be higher or lower than predicted. These discrepancies are not taken care of in the payback period.

It is easy for managers who have little finance training to understand. The payback measure provides information about how long funds will be tied up in a project. The shorter the payback period of a project, the greater the project’s liquidity.

Payback period means the period of time that a project requires to recover the money invested in it. 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. The term payback period refers to the amount of time it takes to recover the cost of an investment.

How can the Pay-back Period Method aid in assessing the financial viability of a business project?

It uses the potential investment’s undiscounted cash flows to calculate the number of years it will take for the company to recoup its investment. The breakeven point is a specific price or value that an investment or project must reach so that the initial cost of that investment or project is completely returned. Whereas the payback period refers to the time it takes to reach the breakeven point. As the equation above shows, the payback period calculation is a simple one. 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.