Opportunity Cost Overview, Formula, Use

how to calculate opportunity cost

With a simple example like this, it isn’t too hard to determine what he can do with his very small budget, but when budgets and constraints are more complex, equations can be used to demonstrate budget constraints and opportunity cost. By using opportunity cost, these decision-makers must determine whether the money dedicated to making interest payments on a loan (i.e., the money lost by taking out a loan) could have been better used in other investment opportunities. If the return from incurring debt and making interest payments is higher than the return from investing the money that would have gone to making interest payments, then incurring debt is the best option according to opportunity cost. Any effort to predict opportunity cost must rely heavily on estimates and assumptions.

Economics Terms Related to Opportunity Cost

Explicit costs are costs that are visible and direct, such as spending $1,000 upgrading equipment. The opportunity cost has to do with what you could have done with that $1,000 had it been spent elsewhere. Accounting profit is the net income calculation often stipulated by the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) used by most companies in the U.S. Under those rules, only explicit, real costs are subtracted from total revenue. However, if you do this, it’s important to keep in mind that your past decisions were made when you had different information available to you than you do now. As such, you should avoid falling for the hindsight bias, which can cause you to assume that the outcomes of events which already occurred were more predictable than they actually were.

how to calculate opportunity cost

Opportunity Cost and Capital Structure

Inversely, the opportunity cost of the 8 percent return is the 10 percent return. Even if you select the 10 percent return – and therefore earn a better overall return – your opportunity cost is still the next best alternative. Opportunity cost is the cost of what is given up exploring the relevance and reliability of fair value accounting when choosing one thing over another. In investing, the concept helps show the cost of an investment choice by showing the trade-offs for making that choice. Opportunity cost can be applied to any situation where you need to make a choice between two or more alternatives.

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  1. When considering opportunity cost, any sunk costs previously incurred are typically ignored.
  2. While the concept of opportunity cost applies to any decision, it becomes harder to quantify as you consider factors that can’t be assigned a dollar amount.
  3. In economics, risk describes the possibility that an investment’s actual and projected returns will be different and that the investor may lose some or all of their capital.
  4. For example, if a person chose to invest in a certain venture, their opportunity cost is the money they could have made by investing in a different venture, and namely in the best alternative venture that was available to them.
  5. And that’s not even considering inflation, or the steady loss in purchasing power cash falls victim to over time.

Sunk costs should be irrelevant for future decision making, while opportunity costs are crucial because they reflect missed opportunities. That’s not to say that your past decisions have no effect on your future decisions, of course. You’ll still have to pay off your student loans whether or not you continue in your chosen field or decide to go back to school for more education. In the investing world, investors often use a hurdle rate to think about the opportunity cost of any given investment choice.

In general, the greater the risk that you lose money on an investment, the higher returns it provides. It can be difficult, then, to compare the opportunity costs of very risky investments, like individual stocks, with virtually risk-free investments, like U.S. On paper, there might be a huge opportunity cost of opting for Treasuries over stocks, but the security the former provides might make them preferable depending on the situation, like if you needed access to that money in the short term. In that sense, every decision in life can be viewed as an opportunity cost, whether to buy a car, get married, or have children.

The next best alternative is the low-grade corporate bonds since its rate of return is higher than the preferred shares. As with many opportunity cost decisions, there is no right or wrong answer here, but it can be a helpful exercise to think it through and decide what you most want. Suppose, for example, that you’ve just received an unexpected $1,000 bonus at work. You could simply spend it now, such as on a spur-of-the-moment vacation, or invest it for a future trip. For example, if you were to invest the entire amount in a safe, one-year certificate of deposit at 5%, you’d have $1,050 to play with next year at this time. One of the most dramatic examples of opportunity cost is a 2010 exchange of 10,000 bitcoins for two large pizzas—at the time worth about $41.

Another thing you can do is use external cues to increase your awareness of opportunity cost. Such cues can, for example, help increase your awareness of the alternatives that you’ll be foregoing. For example, if a person chose to invest in a certain venture, their opportunity cost is the money they could have made by investing in a different venture, and namely in the best alternative venture that was available to them. For example, imagine your aunt had to decide between buying stock in Company ABC and Company XYZ. In this case, she can clearly measure her opportunity cost as 5% (8% – 3%). The decision in this situation would be to continue production as the $50 billion in expected revenue is still greater than the $40 billion received from selling the land.

Assume that a business has $20,000 in available funds and must choose between investing the money in securities, which it expects to return 10% a year, or using it to purchase new machinery. No matter which option the business chooses, the potential profit that it gives up by not investing in the other option is the opportunity cost. The concept of opportunity cost is best known for the role that it plays when it comes to economics and finance. When presented with mutually exclusive options, the decision-making rule is to choose the project with the highest NPV. However, if the alternative project gives a single and immediate benefit, the opportunity costs can be added to the total costs incurred in C0. As a result, the decision rule then changes from choosing the project with the highest NPV to undertaking the project if NPV is greater than zero.

Furthermore, in this regard, it’s important to remember that ‘not making a decision’ is a decision in itself, which should be evaluated just like any other option. John Schmidt is the Assistant Assigning Editor for investing https://www.quick-bookkeeping.net/what-gamestop-gains-and-losses-mean-for-your-taxes/ and retirement. Before joining Forbes Advisor, John was a senior writer at Acorns and editor at market research group Corporate Insight. His work has appeared in CNBC + Acorns’s Grow, MarketWatch and The Financial Diet.

Keep reading to find more about the assumptions this tool uses, https://www.quick-bookkeeping.net/, and the opportunity cost definition. You may also find it useful to go through an opportunity cost example, which provides you with a step-by-step model you can adjust to your own needs. However, since opportunity cost analysis looks at the future, it’s important to be very realistic about your underlying assumptions. Lilith can use one day to manufacture either 100 smartphones or 75 tablets. If she chooses to manufacture the phones, the opportunity cost is the difference in profits of producing 75 tablets. On the other hand, if she chooses to manufacture the 75 tablets, it costs her the difference in profits of manufacturing 100 smartphones.

A former Wall Street trader, he is the author of the books CNBC’s Creating Wealth and The Career Survival Guide. His work has appeared on TheStreet.com, US News, CBS News, Fox Business, MSN, Motley Fool, and other major business media platforms. ” says Adem Selita, chief executive officer at The Debt Relief Company in can law firms measure ambition without billable hours New York, N.Y. Opportunity cost is used when trying to decide between different options that cannot all be taken, just like when one is faced with a fork in the road. You are particularly fond of the software company as it is a brand that you trust and you want to encourage the company’s sustainability practices.

Similarly, when it comes to medical treatments, opportunity cost is taken into account by comparing the value of any given intervention to the value of other possible interventions, which generally also include the option of simply doing nothing. You chose to read this article instead of reading another article, checking your Facebook page, or watching television. Your life is the result of your past decisions, and that, essentially, is the definition of opportunity cost.

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