Calculate today's value for a series of future cash flows

Original Size

An "annuity" is a fixed sum of money paid someone each period, typically for the rest of their life. More loosely, it means any regular cash flow stream which may or may not have an explicit declared term. If an annuity is scheduled for 10 annual payments of $10,000 each, the sum of the payments is $100,000. However, if instead of being paid in 10 annual installments you wanted to receive a single sum, you would not receive $100,000. Why? Because if you receive a single sum today, there is no future risk of not receiving the amount due. Therefore, you would take less today to eliminate the risk of not collecting all payments.

If you are scheduled to receive a series of regular fixed payments of $2,500 for 20 years, what is today's cash value, assuming a 5.5% annual discount rate? The "annual discount rate" is the rate of return that you expect to receive on your investments. This is a personal number. There is no "right" answer, though you want to use a realistic number based on your investment history. The discount rate will vary from individual to individual.

Enter $2,500 in the "Cash Flow Amount" field (never type the currency symbol or commas). The cash flow frequency will be monthly. Enter 240 for the "Number of Cash Flows" (240 months is 20 years). Assume monthly compounding. Since the first payment isn't due until a month from now, set the "First Cash Flow Date" to one month from "Today's Date".

The PV is $363,431.62. Thus, you could accept $363,431.62 today in lieu of receiving $2,500 a month for twenty years. For you, the two are equal.

A note or two about "Compounding Frequency". The "Exact/Simple" option is actually exact day simple interest. When you make this selection, the calculator uses no compounding and the exact number of days between cash flow dates are used. The "Daily" option uses the exact number of days between dates, but daily compounding is assumed. If you are considering receiving a single amount in lieu of a cash flow stream, the "Exact/Simple" compounding option is the most conservative setting. That is, it will result in the highest present value calculation.

The prior version of this calculator provided you with an option to set the "Cash Flow Timing". Since you can enter "Today's Date" and the "First Cash Flow Date" this option is no longer necessary because the calculator will calculate the exact dates the cash flow is due.

One additional point about "Today's Date". This input does not have to be set to the current date. The date you use is the date you want to know the present value. If you were closing on a deal to buy a mortgage and the deal is expected to close in a week, then you would want to use the date of the closing for "Today's Date" so you'll know the present value on the closing date.

Gentlemen:

I am thinking of buying a fixed indexed annuity. The premium is $1,000,000. I am 55 and under the contact I will receive $95,000.00 per year for life starting on 8-1-2026. I am trying to figure out the present value of the payments. An interest rate has never been provided to me. I tried to get the PV but was unable to do so. Any assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Adding to the above my life expectancy at 65 would be 17.66 yrs

By the way, if you are not happy with the compromise between 17 years and 18 years ðŸ™‚ you can use this Time Value of Money Calculator. It gives you finer control over the dates than this calculator. Scroll down the page and see tutorial nos. 20 & 22:

Present Value Calculation

How to discount a simple or complex cash flow to find its PV

Calculate Rate of Return (ROR) on Annuity

How to set up an annualized ROR calculation

Thanks for using these calculators. There are 2 ways you can approach your analysis. The seller is stating that the annuity has a PV of 1,000,000 (the premium). If you want to see what the rate of return is on the premium, use the Internal Rate of Return Calculator. Enter the premium as the initial investment amount and the future payments in the years expected. The calculated IRR is the annualized rate of return you are earning on the premium.

The second way to approach this problem is to calculate the PV using the discount rate you want to earn. You can use this calculator for that. Enter today’s date and the date you expect to receive the first income (payment). I gather that will be about 10 years between the two dates. You can expect to receive 17 or 18 payments. Enter the rate you want. If the PV is more than $1,000,000, then you are earning less than the rate you want to earn.

Let me know if other questions come up. I would be interested to know how you make out with this.

Just wanted to say thanks. I use this almost every single day. It seems to do a fairly good job of estimating the present value of future pension payments.