PV: Excel Formulas Explained

When it comes to spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel is the king. It's an essential tool that businesses, accountants, and finance professionals rely on to manage their data and keep tabs on performance.

However, using Excel can be a daunting task. The software is packed with features, functions, and formulas that can make your head spin. One of the essential functions in Excel is PV, which stands for Present Value.

If you're not familiar with PV, it's a financial formula that can help you calculate the present value of a future payment. This calculation is incredibly useful for business owners and finance professionals because it can help them make informed decisions about investments, loans, and leases.

How PV Works

Before we dive into the specific formula for PV, let's take a moment to understand how it works. Essentially, PV calculates the present value of an investment by considering the following elements:

  • The future value of the investment
  • The interest rate paid on the investment
  • The number of periods until the investment is paid off

Together, these factors determine the present value of the investment. Put simply; PV helps you figure out how much an investment is worth today, taking into account the time value of money (the fact that money is worth more today than it is in the future).

The Formula for PV

Now, let's get down to brass tacks and look at the formula for PV.

=PV(rate, nper, pmt, [fv], [type])

Here's what each of these terms means:

  • Rate: The interest rate you'll earn on the investment (expressed as a percentage)
  • Nper: The number of periods the investment will last (usually measured in years)
  • Pmt: The payment you'll receive at each period (expressed as a negative number, since it's an outflow)
  • [Fv]: The future value of the investment (optional)
  • [Type]: When payments are due. Set to 0 if payments are due at the end of each period, or 1 if payments are due at the beginning of each period (optional).

Don't worry if you're not a math genius; Excel makes it easy to use this formula by providing a simple interface that guides you through the process.


Let's take a quick look at an example to see how PV works in practice.

Assume that you're considering investing $100,000 in a new business venture. The business will pay out $20,000 per year for the next five years. You're expecting an interest rate of 5%.

To calculate the present value of this investment, you would use the PV formula as follows:

=PV(5%, 5, -20000, 100000)

When we plug these numbers into Excel, we get a present value of $85,734.68.

Now that you know how to use the PV formula, you can start making informed decisions about your investments.


Excel is a powerful tool that can help you manage your finances and make smart investment decisions. Using the PV formula is just one way that you can take advantage of this software to get a better understanding of your investments' worth. So go ahead and try it out for yourself. Who knows? You might just discover a new way to grow your wealth.

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