How to Calculate Net Change in Cash From a Cash Flow Statement

How to Calculate Net Change in Cash From a Cash Flow Statement
••• Ratchapon Supprasert/iStock/GettyImages

The net change in cash within a cash flow statement refers to the increase or decrease of cash and cash equivalent balances within a specified period, unlike a balance sheet that shows what companies own and owe in the form of assets and liabilities. The net change in cash is an important metric that factors in the net changes in cash for investing, financing and operating activities.

Net Change in Cash: The Basics

You do not always have to use a net change in cash calculator to find these changes from one accounting year to another.

Harvard Business School notes that generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) dictate that accountants should write down the net change in cash at the bottom part of the cash flow statement as a summary. But it helps to know how to calculate the net cash flow and related metrics so you can understand how various financial activities are impacting your small business’s cash.

Do remember though that it is quite different from net income, which accountants carry over from the income statement (also one of the most important financial statements). Usually, net income shows up in the first line of the cash flow statement; sometimes, the numbers will reflect net loss instead of net income.

However, you can calculate the net increase in cash by comparing the difference between cash and cash equivalents at the beginning of the accounting period and at the end to determine how much more money a company has made over the specified period, depending on things like cash flow from operations. But if an organization has less than it began with, it will have a net decrease in cash.

What Is Net Cash Formula?

The net cash formula for calculating the net change in cash from a cash flow statement depends on the sum of all incoming cash and outgoing monies, regardless of business operations. You can calculate the net change in cash in two primary ways, but both strategies involve figuring out the net cash for the current accounting period.

In this case, the Corporate Finance Institute explains that net cash refers to the difference between the amount of cash and cash equivalents of a small business compared to its liabilities. You can use it to determine a company’s liquidity and ability to pay off its debts.

Net Cash Flow Formula 1

Here’s how to calculate net cash flow:

Net cash flow = total cash inflow – total cash outflow

Net Cash Flow Formula 2

Net cash flow = Net cash flow from operating activities + net cash flow from investing activities + net cash flow from financing activities

In both of the above cases, the result will give you the cash increase or decrease during the period. You can then add this net cash to the beginning cash balance to get the company's ending cash balance for the period.

Calculate Net Change in Cash From a Cash Flow Statement

Below is the procedure for calculating the net increase in cash or decrease. You can find a net change in cash calculator online or do the math manually.

  • Begin by finding the company's current statement of cash flows whose net increase in cash you want to calculate. You can find it within the relevant company’s Form 10-K or Form-Q reports. Such a statement is usually available in the investor’s relation section of the company website or the U.S. SEC’s EDGAR search tool.
  • Once you find the company’s cash flow statement, check at the bottom of the page. If the company accountant has listed the previous year’s and the current period’s cash and cash equivalent amounts, it is much easier to calculate the net change in cash from a cash flow statement. So, use the formula: ‌net change in cash = end of year cash and cash equivalents – beginning of the year cash and cash equivalents‌. However, if the amount is missing, go to step three.
  • Find out the previous year’s cash and cash equivalent amount from the cash flow statement from that period by using the strategies in step one. If you want to calculate the net change every quarter, use Form 10-Q. But if you wish to calculate the annual change, use Form 10-K. That amount will act as your reference point.
  • Take note of the net cash flows from operating, investing and financing activities (CFO, CFI and CFF, respectively) and add them up. The amounts could be stated in bold or at the end of each of those activity sections. For example, suppose company ABC had total cash and cash equivalent balance of $500,000 the year before. And now, it has a CFO of $500,000, CFI of ($750,000) and a CFF of $1,000,000. In that case, the net cash flows calculation is ($1,000,000 + $500,000 – $750,000), which equals an $750,000 positive net change in cash in cash. Typically, the amount in parentheses means it’s negative because the company spent more than it brought in when investing.
  • Now add the net change in cash to the company's beginning cash amount. Based on the example above, we would add the $500,000 starting cash amount to the $750,000 net increase in cash to get $1,250,000 as the ending cash and cash equivalents.

If the company has a decrease in cash or negative net cash flow, it indicates poor performance, and it implies the organization has to find external sources of money to fund its operations. A positive cash flow implies the opposite.

However, the metric is not the only indicator of a company’s financial health. For example, you can calculate the working capital or free cash flow. So, it would be best if you also considered other aspects of the company’s performance when doing business valuation before deciding whether or not to invest.