Opportunity Cost: What Is It and How to Calculate It

The assumption is that its return on investment from the stock market investment will surpass 16 percent over the next year. Another expectation is that, over the same period, reinvestment in the business through the purchase of new equipment will produce a 13 percent return on investment. Here, then, the opportunity cost is 16 percent minus 13 percent, or 3 percent.

Opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative that must be sacrificed when making a decision. In his professional career he’s written over 100 research papers, articles and blog posts. Some of his most popular published works include his writing about economic terms and research into job classifications. On the other hand, “implicit costs may or may not have been incurred by forgoing a specific action,” says Castaneda.

  • Most people overlook opportunity costs because the benefits are usually hidden from view.
  • Each row corresponds to an option while each column features the corresponding outcome or reward for that alternative.
  • The formula calculates the best options and the second best possible option in terms of value, which was not chosen during the course of production.

This choice should maximize your gains or benefit given the available information. These options could be related to investments, time allocation, or any decision where trade-offs exist. On the other hand, opportunity cost relates to the idea that the returns of a chosen investment will potentially what are different types of contract be lower than the returns of the next best option. For example, the money you’ve already spent on rent for your office space is a sunk cost. But the funds you haven’t spent on office furniture yet would be considered an opportunity cost because you haven’t actually spent the money yet.

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However, buying one cheeseburger every day for the next 25 years could lead to several missed opportunities. Aside from the missed opportunity for better health, spending that $4.50 on a burger could add up to just over $52,000 in that time frame, assuming a very achievable 5% RoR. A PPC can be used to show the differences in opportunity cost between two products that you can build or manufacture.

  • Over time, more thoughtful decision-making will help your business grow.
  • Opportunity cost describes the difference between the value of one alternative and the value of the next best alternative.
  • For example, perhaps an investor put capital in Company A but did not realize gains.
  • You accept the offer, sign the contract, and send the first invoice without calculating opportunity cost.

One of the main issues is that you might be spending small dollar amounts every day without failing to think about the lost opportunities you have because you are not saving more money for the future. Opportunities can have similar costs due to emotional or personal reasons. In such instances, having a clear attitude and using the tips that we’ve covered here will help you make the right decisions and boost your productivity. There are lots of hidden costs that opportunities can have, and every decision has a cost.

Economic Profit and Accounting Profit

While the price of kerosene is more attractive than crude, the firm must determine its profitability by considering the incremental costs required to refine crude oil into kerosene. “To put it in perspective, A dollar invested in the S&P 500 at the start of 1926 would have grown to $10,896 (with all dividends reinvested) by the end of 2020. Thus, the opportunity cost for conservative investors would be $10,874,” Johnson says. Opportunity costs may have explicit financial costs, like when you choose to use your dollars for one thing instead of another, or implicit costs. The latter won’t hurt your wallet but will cost you the chance to do other things with your time or energy, which actually can have indirect impacts on your finances. For example, investment A might be risky but have a return of 30%.

Opportunity Cost Vs. Sunk Cost

Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented. This article will show you how to calculate opportunity cost with a simple formula. We’ll walk through some opportunity cost examples and give you tips to apply them to your business. You’ll also learn how opportunity costs, sunk costs, and risks are different. In general, the greater the risk that you lose money on an investment, the higher returns it provides.

However, a fall in demand for oil products has led to a foreseeable revenue of $50 billion. As such, the profit from this project will lead to a net value of $20 billion. A land surveyor determines that the land can be sold at a price of $40 billion.

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One certificate of deposit (CD) with a major bank offers an annual interest rate of 3.5% compounded monthly. Using an interest calculator, you determine that your savings would grow to $13,100.37 in five years, an increase of over $2,000. The trade-off, however, is that you can’t withdraw these funds for the entire five-year period. For example, imagine your aunt had to decide between buying stock in Company ABC and Company XYZ.

Stash assumes no obligation to provide notifications of changes in any factors that could affect the information provided. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any issuer or security in particular. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective. In this case, you can consider an investment’s opportunity cost by weighing the potential pros and cons of investing in a bond, versus the pros and cons of investing in a stock. For example, you purchased $1,000 in new equipment to manufacture backpacks, your number one product.

Evaluating Business Decisions

However, with the right precautions, it can also be extremely profitable. To minimize risks and maximize profits, investors often use various tricks of the trade to calculate and compare potential decisions. Opportunity cost is a term that refers to the potential reward that you forgo when choosing one option over the next-best alternative. The key to understanding how businesses see opportunity costs is to understand the concept of economic profit.

Why You Should Care About Opportunity Cost

Opportunity costs represent the potential benefits that an individual, investor, or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another. Because opportunity costs are unseen by definition, they can be easily overlooked. Understanding the potential missed opportunities when a business or individual chooses one investment over another allows for better decision making. Every opportunity will cost you something, whether it be equity, money, or other opportunities.

In other words, if the investor chooses Company A, they give up the chance to earn a better return under those stock market conditions. Although some investors aim for the safest return, others shoot for the highest payout. An investor calculates the opportunity cost by comparing the returns of two options. This can be done during the decision-making process by estimating future returns. Alternatively, the opportunity cost can be calculated with hindsight by comparing returns since the decision was made.

Nothing in this article should be considered as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any particular security or investment product or to engage in any investment strategy. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Stash does not provide personalized financial planning to investors, such as estate, tax, or retirement planning. Investment advisory services are only provided to investors who become Stash Clients pursuant to a written Advisory Agreement. Remember that all investing carries risk, and you can lose money in the market. Stash recommends diversifying when you invest, and following the Stash Way.


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