The basic principles and equations are developed for elementary finance, based on the concept of compound interest. The five quantities of interest in such problems are present value, future value, amount of periodic payment, number of periods and the rate of interest per period. We consider three distinct means of computing each of these five quantities in Excel 2007: (i) use of algebraic equations, (ii) by recursive schedule and the Goal Seek facility, and (iii) use of Excel's intrinsic financial functions. The paper is intended to be used as the basis for a lesson plan and contains many examples and solved problems. Comment is made regarding the relative difficulty of each approach, and a prominent theme is the systematic use of more than one method to increase student understanding and build confidence in the answer obtained. Full instructions to build each type of model are given and a complete set of examples and solutions may be downloaded (Examples.xlsx and Solutions.xlsx).

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Solutions.xlsx (31 kB)
Solutions to exercise

Examples.xlsx (40 kB)