Opportunity cost definition


Opportunity Cost

It’s found money, so there’s no loss to you—unless you think about the opportunity cost. If seeing is believing, it’s worth looking at the future value of money—a concept many of us have read about in retirement plan literature or heard from financial advisors. That depends on how good the kiwi flavor is instead—plus a range of other choices. In theory marginal costs represent the increase in total costs as output increases by 1 unit. If a printer of a company malfunctions, then the explicit costs for the company equates to the total amount to be paid to the repair technician. In 1962, a little known band called The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records.

Consider the owner of a building who decides that her vacant first-floor space will become a restaurant. The opportunity cost of making such a decision is that the space can no longer be used for a different purpose, such as a retail store or an office space that’s rented to another party. The idea behind opportunity cost is that the cost of one item is the lost opportunity to do or consume something else; in short, opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative. Resources used in economic evaluations should be valued at opportunity cost, but doing this is difficult ,5 so unit costs tend to be used instead, based on the costs of the various inputs. Opportunity cost is a useful concept when considering alternative places for using resources and assets. In situations where the owner’s resources and assets are used in the business, it is the concept used in determining if the business is making a return over and above the cost of contributed resources.

opportunity cost

If you choose one alternative over another, then the cost of choosing that alternative becomes your opportunity cost. Opportunity costs are real in the sense that there is always a missed opportunity when you’re allocating resources (time, money, etc.). However, it’s important to note that opportunity costs will not be reflected in a bank account or a company’s income statement because they only reflect the choices made, not the choices that are not taken. There are a couple of challenges to calculating opportunity costs.

  • The opportunity cost of exchanging the 10,000 bitcoins for two large pizzas peaked at almost $700 million based on Bitcoin’s 2022 all-time high price.
  • And that’s not even considering inflation, or the steady loss in purchasing power cash falls victim to over time.
  • However, a fall in demand for oil products has led to a foreseeable revenue of $50 billion.
  • In the example above, the farmer may have made the right decision, making more money by selling and otherwise using his cucumber crop than he would have with the potatoes or carrots.
  • For example, the opportunity cost of investing in an ethanol plant may be the satisfaction given up by not buying a new pickup.
  • The federal government could provide armed “sky marshals” who would travel inconspicuously with the rest of the passengers.
  • However, buying one cheeseburger every day for the next 25 years could lead to several missed opportunities.

Using the car-buying example, a consumer might default to thinking of the relative value of the $1,500 upgrade to the base price of the car, say, $18,500. A student spends three hours and $20 at the movies the night before an exam. The opportunity cost is time spent studying and that money to spend on something else. When a nation, organisation or individual can produce a product or service at a relatively lower opportunity cost compared to its competitors, it is said to have a comparative advantage.

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For example, consumers may want a 2 week holiday in the Caribbean, but have to consider whether they can still pay the bills. As incomes rise, the influence of utility becomes ever greater, whilst the impact of price https://accounting-services.net/ diminishes. For instance, it may take time to go to your favorite restaurant, but also the effort of driving or walking there. So you may choose a local one that isn’t as good in order to save time and effort.

  • Absolute advantage on the other hand refers to how efficiently a party can use its resources to produce goods and services compared to others, regardless of its opportunity costs.
  • This can be done during the decision-making process by estimating future returns.
  • The Structured Query Language comprises several different data types that allow it to store different types of information…
  • It doesn’t cost you anything upfront to use the vacation home yourself, but you are giving up the opportunity to generate income from the property if you choose not to lease it.
  • These examples are striking, especially when considering that a $4.49 caffè mocha habit over time can dwarf the seemingly larger decision to splurge on a $4,000 getaway trip.

There are significant differences between opportunity costs and sunk costs. A sunk cost is a cost that has already been paid for, whereas an opportunity cost is a prospective return that has not yet been earned. Thus, a sunk cost is backward looking, while an opportunity cost is forward looking. For example, a business pays $50,000 to acquire a piece of custom machinery; this is a sunk cost. Conversely, the opportunity cost represents an analysis of how the $50,000 might otherwise have been used.

How is Opportunity Cost Calculated?

A sunk cost is a cost that has occurred and cannot be changed by present or future decisions. As such, it is important that this cost is ignored in the decision-making process. In financial analysis, the opportunity cost is factored into the present when calculating the Net Present Value formula. When we make a purchasing decision, we subconsciously consider several factors before making a decision.

What is the alternative name of opportunity cost?

The alternative name of opportunity cost is Economic cost.

If you have trouble understanding the premise, remember that opportunity cost is inextricably linked with the notion that nearly every decision requires a trade-off. Opportunity cost is the amount of potential gain an investor misses out on when they commit to one investment choice over another. A farmer chooses to plant wheat; the opportunity cost is planting a different crop, or an alternate use of the resources . If a person leaves work for an hour and spends $200 on office supplies, then the explicit costs for the individual equates to the total expenses for the office supplies of $200.


A company used $5,000 for marketing and advertising on its music streaming service to increase exposure to the target market and potential consumers. The sunk cost for the company equates to the $5,000 that was spent on the market and advertising means. This expense is to be ignored by the company in its future decisions and highlights that no additional investment should be made. Explicit costs are the direct costs of an action , executed either through a cash transaction or a physical transfer of resources. In other words, explicit Opportunity Costs are the out-of-pocket costs of a firm, that are easily identifiable. This means explicit costs will always have a dollar value and involve a transfer of money, e.g. paying employees. With this said, these particular costs can easily be identified under the expenses of a firm’s income statement and balance sheet to represent all the cash outflows of a firm.


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