Dealing With Complex Cash Flows -I: Chit Fund Returns Calculator

Published: August 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

This calculator returns the CAGR value based on Chit fund cash flows using Excel’s XIRR and IRR functions. Even if you have no interest in chit funds (good for you!), if you are someone who uses Excel to calculate returns (of any financial instrument), I strongly urge you play with this calculator as it highlights the limitations of estimating returns for complex cash flows.


Reader R. Siva Prasad, requested that I make this calculator to try and make sense of chit fund returns. Earlier, reader Hari sent a video link which pointed out the limitations of XIRR and IRR when he saw my Investment Returns (XIRR) Calculator


Motivation: I am not a fan of chit funds. I did this for two reasons: Siva Prasad requested it and I saw it as a perfect example for illustrating the limitations of calculating returns for complex cash flows and therefore of the XIRR and IRR functions! No fault of Excels. That is just the way the cookie crumbles.

Chit fund Primer: The way a chit fund operates amazes me. A group of people get together and decide to pay an equal sum of money for a few months. Each month the group members bid on the total amount collected. The person with the lowest bid receives the amount after deducting commission or operating charges and can no longer take part in the bidding. The remaining amount is distributed equally to all the members.

How the calculator works functions:

  • CAGR using Excels IRR: If you wish to assume the payment and receipts each month are made on the same date then you need not enter the dates of payment and receipts. However,I strongly suggest that you do.
  • CAGR using Excels XIRR: In this case the dates of payments and receipts should be entered (along with amounts of course!).
  • Observe the results!

Download the Chit Funds Returns Calculator

Use this calculator to

  • advice your friends or clients not to use chit funds.
  • think about the limitation of XIRR and IRR!

Bottom line:  Do not enter into chit fund schemes looking for returns. It is one thing to get poor returns, quite another when you cannot even calculate them!

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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