What is Amortization?

What is Amortization?

Amortization is the process of spreading out the cost of an expense or an investment over a period of time. It is commonly used in financial contexts, such as loans and intangible asset accounting. The purpose of amortization is to reduce the impact of a large upfront cost by realizing the expense over time.

How do I calculate amortization?

Amortization of a Loan:

a. Determine the Principal Amount: This is the initial amount of the loan or mortgage.

b. Determine the Interest Rate: This is the annual interest rate on the loan. Divide this by 12 to get the monthly interest rate.

c. Determine the Number of Payments: This is the total number of monthly payments. For instance, a 30-year mortgage would have 360 payments (30 years x 12 months/year).

d. Calculate the Monthly Payment: Use the following formula to calculate the monthly payment (A):

A=P \frac {i(1+i)^n}{(1+i)^n-1}


  • = periodic payment amount
  • = amount of principal, net of initial payments
  • i = periodic interest rate
  • n = total number of payments (periods)

e. Create an Amortization Schedule: For each period, calculate the interest amount, principal payment, and ending balance. The interest for a period is calculated as the beginning balance multiplied by the interest rate. The principal payment is the difference between the monthly payment and the interest for the period. The ending balance for a period is the beginning balance minus the principal payment.


Amortization of an Intangible Asset:

a. Determine the Initial Cost of the Asset: This is the purchase price or acquisition cost of the intangible asset.

b. Determine the Residual Value: This is the value of the intangible asset at the end of its useful life. For many intangible assets, this will be $0.

c. Determine the Useful Life: Estimate the number of years the intangible asset will provide economic benefit.

d. Calculate the Annual Amortization Expense:

Annual Amortization=Initial Cost−Residual ValueUseful Life

e. Record the Amortization: Each accounting period, record an amortization expense and reduce the asset’s carrying amount on the balance sheet by the amortization amount.

It’s worth noting that while tangible assets are depreciated, intangible assets are amortized. Additionally, some intangible assets, like goodwill, are not amortized but are tested annually for impairment.

For startups, it’s crucial to keep accurate records of amortization as it impacts financial statements and can influence decisions made by investors or lenders. If you’re unsure about any aspect of amortization, consulting with an accountant or financial advisor can be beneficial.

How can I use Amortization in my startup?

1. Intangible Assets:

a. Recognize Intangible Assets: These could be patents, copyrights, trademarks, licenses, customer lists, non-compete agreements, software, or even goodwill from an acquisition.

b. Determine Useful Life: Estimate how long you expect the intangible asset to provide economic benefits to your startup. This will be the period over which you’ll spread the cost.

c. Calculate and Record Amortization: Using the straight-line method (most common), divide the cost of the intangible asset by its useful life to get an annual amortization expense. Record this expense in your income statement and reduce the asset’s value on the balance sheet correspondingly.


2. Loan Repayments:

a. Secure Financing: If you’ve taken out a loan for your startup, you’ll need to repay it over time.

b. Understand Your Repayment Schedule: Knowing how much of your monthly payment goes towards interest versus the principal is crucial for both cash flow management and financial reporting.

c. Create an Amortization Schedule: This will help you understand how your loan will decrease over time and how much interest you’ll be paying.


3. Budgeting and Forecasting:

a. Incorporate Amortization into Projections: When creating financial projections, include your amortization expenses. This gives investors a clearer picture of future expenses and profitability.

b. Cash Flow Management: While amortization of intangible assets is a non-cash expense, understanding your loan amortization schedule helps in cash flow planning.


4. Tax Implications:

a. Deductible Expenses: In many jurisdictions, amortization of intangible assets can be a deductible expense, reducing your startup’s taxable income.

b. Stay Updated on Tax Laws: Tax regulations regarding amortization can change, so it’s essential to stay informed or consult with an accountant.


5. Investor and Lender Communications:

a. Transparency: Clearly showing amortization on your financial statements provides transparency to potential investors or lenders.

b. Financial Ratios: Amortization can affect various financial ratios, such as EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization), which investors might use to evaluate your business.


6. Decision Making:

a. Evaluate Asset Purchases: Understanding amortization can help in decisions related to acquiring intangible assets. For instance, is the benefit derived from a software license worth its cost spread over its useful life?

b. Financing Decisions: With a clear loan amortization schedule, you can make informed decisions about refinancing or paying off loans early.