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What is a non-discount method in capital budgeting?

Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Non-discount Method of Capital Budgeting

A non-discount method of capital budgeting is one that does not consider the time value of money. In other words, all dollars earned in the future are assumed to have the same value as today’s dollars.

Examples of Non-discount Methods of Capital Budgeting

One example of a non-discount method is the payback method, since it does not consider the time value of money. The payback method simply computes the number of years it will take for an investment to return cash that is equal to the amount invested. The computed number of years is referred to as the payback period.

To illustrate, assume that a company invests $100,000 today in a project that is expected to generate cash of $50,000 for two years followed by $10,000 per year for four additional years. Its payback period is two years ($50,000 + $50,000).

Assume that another investment of $100,000 generates cash of $20,000 per year for two years and then provides cash of $40,000 per year for six additional years, its payback period is approximately 3.5 years ($20,000 + $20,000 + $40,000 + half of $40,000).

The payback method answers only one question: How long before the cash invested is returned? The payback method does not address which investment is more profitable. Note from our examples that the payback method not only ignores the time value of money, it ignores all of the cash received after the payback period.

Another example of a non-discount method in capital budgeting is the accounting rate of return method, which is similar to the return on investment (ROI).

[To overcome the above shortcomings, capital budgeting should include calculations that recognize the time value of money. These include (1) the net present value, and (2) the internal rate of return. These calculations involve discounting the future cash flows since a dollar in the distant future will be less valuable than a dollar in the near future, and both of those dollars have less value than a dollar today.]

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About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

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