Defined: Opportunity Cost, Plus Examples and Calculation

how to calculate the opportunity cost

In other words, by investing in the business, the company would forgo the opportunity to earn a higher return—at least for that first year. What does opportunity cost have to do with a business’s capital structure? If you finance your capital through debt, you have to pay it back even if you aren’t making any money. Moreover, money allocated to servicing debt can’t be spent on investing in the business or pursuing other investment opportunities, such as the stock and bond markets. Let’s look at an example on how a business can use opportunity cost analysis to determine whether or not obtaining an infusion of capital through debt is a smart move.

  1. The trade-off, however, is that you can’t withdraw these funds for the entire five-year period.
  2. However, this concept also applies to decisions made in everyday life, as individuals are often faced with choosing one option or another because of the scarcity of time and resources inherent to life.
  3. In short, any trade-off you make between decisions can be considered part of an investment’s opportunity cost.
  4. Investing in securities products involves risk and you could lose money.
  5. And that’s not even considering inflation, or the steady loss in purchasing power cash falls victim to over time.

How to calculate opportunity cost with a simple formula.

This concept can be a bit complicated, but the general idea is that a business needs to earn revenue in excess of its opportunity costs for the benefits to accrue to the owners. There is no specifically defined or agreed on mathematical formula to calculate opportunity cost, but there are ways to think about opportunity costs in a mathematical way. It’s obvious that decisions around what to invest in are inherently informed by opportunity cost. But once you understand opportunity cost is a factor you should weigh, the amount of opportunities to consider may seem intimidating. You don’t want to choose the wrong investment option and incur the wrong opportunity cost, after all. You chose to read this article instead of reading another article, checking your Facebook page, or watching television.

Brex for startups.

The goal is to assign a number value to that cost, such as a dollar amount or percentage, so you can make a better choice. Opportunity cost is often overshadowed by what are known as sunk costs. Sunk costs should not be factored into decisions about the future or calculating any future opportunity costs. Johnson points to historical data on stocks versus bonds to illustrate the missed financial opportunities. From 1926 to 2020, large capitalization stocks, like those in the S&P 500, have seen average annual returns of 10.2%.

Opportunity Cost: Definition, Formula, and Examples

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. However, the car manufacturer must take into account whether cars are as popular as trucks and if they can sell as reliably.

how to calculate the opportunity cost

Module 2: Choice in a World of Scarcity

The usefulness of opportunity cost in decision-making is largely predicated on making predictions about the outcomes of each potential choice and the value that can be garnered by taking a given path. As such, users of this formula must be able to make reliable estimates about the outcomes of each potential option. This requires that decision-makers take an honest look at each option and make reasonable predictions about potential outcomes, all while leaving some room for potential variance in the actual outcome. The expected return on investment for Company A’s stock is 6% over the next year.

And remember, regardless of your choice, you’ll incur some sort of opportunity cost. Even making no decision is itself a decision with costs, especially when you consider the sleeper costs of inflation. “To put it in perspective, A dollar invested in the S&P 500 at the start of 1926 would have xero community – all you need to know 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. The basic formula for opportunity cost is the same in academic economics as it is in everyday use—it’s just expressed differently.

Of course, we are assuming that there is sufficient demand for tablets to expend all Lilith’s production capacity on tablets. Get global corporate cards, ACH and wires, and bill pay in one account that scales with you from launch to IPO. You can determine whether it makes more fiscal sense to pay down your loan balance, launch a new product, or accept even more financing.

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