In this on-demand course, Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA, brings his prior commercial real estate experience to the forefront by walking you through assembling a waterfall calculation from scratch. He begins with a blank worksheet and details every input and formula. Waterfall calculations are used to allocate cash flow among two or more partners based on their agreed-upon return parameters. David covers such concepts as range names, although he provides cell-address references you can use in lieu of range names if you so desire. He contrasts using the IRR worksheet function versus the XIRR worksheet function for computing investment returns. Additional worksheet functions—MIN, ROUND, DATE, SUMIF, and others—are included in the discussion. Check figures are used extensively throughout the model to ensure data integrity. Check figures also empower users to easily follow the calculations through the tiers. 

David demonstrates every technique at least twice: first, on a PowerPoint slide with numbered steps, and second, in the subscription-based Office 365 version of Excel. David draws your attention to any differences in the older versions of Excel (2019, 2016, 2013, and earlier) during the presentation as well as in his detailed handouts. David also provides an Excel workbook that includes most of the examples used in the course.

Office 365 is a subscription-based product that provides new-feature updates as often as monthly. Conversely, the perpetual licensed versions of Excel have feature sets that don’t change. Perpetual licensed versions have year numbers, such as Excel 2019, Excel 2016, and so on.

Topics Covered:

  • Summarizing the investment parameters to be incorporated into a waterfall calculation.
  • Building a waterfall calculation from scratch, starting with a blank worksheet.
  • Using range names to streamline formulas and bookmark key inputs within a workbook.
  • Utilizing Excel’s Name Manager feature to review and manage named ranges within a workbook.
  • Building a series of dates with the Fill Series command.
  • Improving the integrity of spreadsheets by using SUMIF to look up values in a more flexible fashion than VLOOKUP.
  • Building a series of self-updating dates with Excel’s DATE function.
  • Writing formulas by choosing named ranges with the Use In Formula command, thereby saving you time.
  • Incorporating decisions into calculations with Excel’s IF function.
  • Saving time by using the AutoSum formula to sum multiple columns at once with a mouse click or a keyboard shortcut.
  • Computing the internal rate of return for a series of cash flows with the IRR function.
  • Understanding how XIRR provides more accurate return calculations than IRR.
  • Computing returns on irregular cash flow distributions when needed.
  • Maximizing worksheet cells by using custom number formats to display text within cells that contain numeric values.
  • Returning the smallest value from two or more amounts by way of the MIN function.
  • Applying formatting to multiple locations within a worksheet by way of the Format Painter feature.
  • Using Excel’s ROUND function to round numbers to the nearest 10, 100, 1000, or beyond.
Learning Objectives
  • Discover the keyboard shortcut that enables you to transfer the contents of a cell across a row of adjacent cells that you’ve selected.
  • Identify which keyboard shortcut allows you to toggle the Bold settings for a cell or the selection of text on or off.
  • Recognize the location of the Name Manager command within Excel’s ribbon interface.
Last updated/reviewed: March 7, 2024

Included In Certifications

This course is included in the following Certification Programs:

17 CoursesExcel Modeler Certification

  1. Excel Efficiency: VLOOKUP
  2. Excel Efficiency: Logic Functions
  3. Excel Efficiency: Filtering and Formatting Data
  4. Excel Efficiency: Intermediate Pivot Tables
  5. Excel Efficiency: Auditing Spreadsheets
  6. Excel Efficiency: Minimizing Worksheet Errors
  7. Excel Efficiency: Workbook Links
  8. Excel Efficiency: What-If Analysis in Microsoft Excel
  9. Excel Efficiency: Quick and Easy Financial Statements in Excel
  10. Excel Efficiency: Budget Spreadsheets
  11. Hands-On Excel: Waterfall Calculations
  12. Excel Efficiency: Table Feature
  13. Excel Efficiency: Intro to Macros Part 1
  14. Excel Efficiency: Intro to Macros Part 2
  15. Excel Efficiency: Excel Chart Speed Tips
  16. Excel Efficiency: Taming Large Spreadsheets
  17. Excel Efficiency: Internal Controls
17 Reviews (49 ratings)


Anonymous Author
Excellent primer for investor waterfalls using CF and return logic to build all the splits logically. Easy to follow and comes with a useful download sample tool. David is easy to listen to and includes beneficial MS Excel shortcuts throughout the mini-course, while thoughtfully explaining the "why" on each recommendation.

Anonymous Author
I recommend this course because has a lot of excel trick that I did not know and now I feel confident to use them . The instructor provided a great examples and explanation as well excellent material that will help you to review later in your own. please take notes when you watch the videos it helps a lot.

Member's Profile
Very thorough and helpful course. I like the repetition which helps reinforce the concepts, inlcuding very useful shortcut combinations,that are taught. The name of the course led me incorrectly conclude that it would cover the use of waterfall charts, so I was initially a bit surprised by this

Member's Profile
As a CPA working in the private sector (real estate) I really appreciate being able to get my required CPE through classes that are specialized like this and not just the usual Tax and Audit courses I usually find.

Anonymous Author
Overall, great class. For those interested in the course, I would say this increased my excel skills more than it did understanding a waterfall calculation, as it has a heavier emphasis on formulas/excel tricks.

Anonymous Author
Great course that worked through a specific scenario while sharing useful tips and shortcuts. The videos alone are longer than 2 hours, so I believe the course should be worth more than 2 credits.

Anonymous Author
Great course on range names and how to use them throughout an analysis to help make your spreadsheets easier to understand.

Anonymous Author
Great course! Very informative presentation teaching not only waterfall calculations but also many excel shortcuts.

Member's Profile
very helpful. I actually liked the speed too. I get bored in Excel classes too easily and this one kept me moving.

Member's Profile
Great course because it provides practical real-world calculation. Lots of tips and handy tricks too.

Anonymous Author
I am an experienced Excel user and there are tricks that I do learn from David in his seminars.

Anonymous Author
Excellent slides. Thanks for all the detail. It made it easy to refer back to.

Member's Profile
Excellent real world example of sale proceeds being distributed to partners

Anonymous Author
informative course about calculations and the xirr functions in excel

Anonymous Author
This is a great course to learn new excel functions and shortcuts.

Member's Profile
Waterfalls are beautiful, even waterfall calculations :)

Member's Profile
Good Presentation, useful materials. Like it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Course Complexity: Advanced

Experience building cash flow models or other detailed spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel.

Education Provider Information
Company: Illumeo, Inc., 75 East Santa Clara St., Suite 1215, San Jose, CA 95113
Contact: For more information regarding this course, including complaint and cancellation policies, please contact our offices at (408) 400- 3993 or send an e-mail to .
Instructor for this course
Course Syllabus
  Introduction to Hands-on Excel: Waterfall Calculations12:08
  Add Formulas and Range Names11:58
  Cash Flow Worksheet/Fill Series Command8:34
  Frame Out Cash Flow Section/DATE Function8:25
  Operating Cash Flow/IF Function9:56
  Introduction to XIRR Function10:38
  Hurdle 1 Section10:00
  Format Painter Features/ROUND Function8:08
  Framing Out Hurdle 2 Calculations14:10
  Rounding IRR/ROUND Function7:42
  Calculating Disposition Fee/MIN Function10:23
  Partner 1 Summary11:41
  Hands-on Excel: Waterfall Calculations2:03:42
  Slides: Hands-On Excel: Waterfall CalculationsPDF
  Hands-On Excel: Waterfall Calculations Glossary/IndexPDF
  Workbook: Hands-On Excel: Waterfall CalculationsXLSX