What Does An Opportunity Cost Mean?

Wondering about what the opportunity cost is? The concept indicates that each opportunity we are provided has a distinct cost, and we will always prefer circumstances in which opportunity outweighs the costs. Read more to familiarize yourself with how opportunity cost works.

Opportunity costs are a term used in economics to describe the fact that every corporate or personal choice has both an opportunity and a cost connected with it. If you have never heard of opportunity cost before, it may seem confusing.

The cost of foregoing an alternative in order to pursue a specific action. To put it another way, the advantages you may have gained by following a different course of action. To put it another way, choosing to perform one thing at the price of another.

When considering an investment, a business opportunity, or even whether it is a smart idea to go out on the town with your friends instead of staying at home with your spouse, you must consider not only your possible return but also the return you are foregoing by not picking another alternative.

When it comes to beginning a business, one of the areas where one can find many people overlook opportunity cost is when they consider starting their own company. Some people are so focused on a company’s initial start-up costs that they miss out on the opportunity to not only return that investment fast, but to make it irrelevant in the great scheme of things.

Consider a franchise; acquiring a franchise can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars and more likely hundreds of thousands of dollars for a major chain. And in exchange, you get a tried and true system with proven outcomes.

What does opportunity cost mean?

Although opportunity cost may appear to be a dull subject, it is a concept that may be applied to a wide range of situations. I recently came upon a remark by a well-known author and realized that it applies to life, business, economics, opportunity cost, and pretty much everything else we do during our waking hours.

This remark means a lot since it describes a fantastic way of looking at life. This is a basic lesson, yet it is quite effective. Before making a decision, knowing what the opportunity cost is will substantially assist one in taking a calculated risk. Making a decision when you do not know how much something will cost you might be pricey.

Opportunity cost is defined as the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the best alternative that is not chosen by economists. Emerson put it in a much more elegant manner, but it was essentially the same idea. What this truly means is that we are out on opportunities to do something different for everything we do.

We miss out on one opportunity for everyone we seize. Only one opportunity may come our way, and we must pick which one to embrace. Even if you decide not to do anything, you have made a decision, and there will very certainly be consequences. We must recognize that we got something else in the process.

Perhaps you contributed that money to charity and aided someone else in their journey through life. Perhaps you spent the money on something enjoyable, such as a game or other personal items. You might have even put that money aside for a rainy day.

Whatever other decision you made, you got something, even if it was just knowledge about how to make a decision in that area in the future. We are all presented with options and the ability to select between them. You would not be able to notice the doors that are open in front of you if you spend all of your time gazing at the ones that have closed behind you.

If you are starting a business from the ground up, you will need to find land to build on or a building to lease, equipment to buy or lease, employees and staff to hire, and hope your concept is sound.

Another approach is to look for a company that:

  • A profitable business model
  • A tried and true method
  • There are no overhead costs, no staff, and no franchise fees
  • Low startup expenses and a quick return on investment
  • All of these goods are available in a variety of home-based enterprises

All of these goods are available in a variety of home-based enterprises. So you must consider the opportunity cost and decide whether it is preferable to invest a large sum of money in a franchise or a facility, or a modest sum to establish a home-based business.

Opportunity cost example

The economic principle of opportunity cost is amusing. Opportunity cost is not always visible on an expenditure report, but it can account for a significant portion of your company’s costs. You may never be able to calculate an opportunity cost’s exact number, yet it may become the determining element in your business decisions. We instinctively consider opportunity cost in our daily decisions, as complicated as it may appear at first. Here’s an example to show what I mean:

A 12-year old boy learns that his little league baseball game will clash with his best friend’s birthday celebration. The two events are mutually exclusive, which means that if he chooses one, he can not pick the other. As a result, each option comes with a cost of opportunity.

He would miss out on the fun of being at his friend’s house if he chooses to go to the baseball game instead of the party. He will also miss out on the party’s other perks, such as cake and ice cream party favors, activities, and memories with his buddies.

If he chooses to attend the party, however, he will incur additional opportunity costs. If he misses a baseball game, the coach may elect to put him on the bench for the following game. If he is part of a tiny team, the game may have to be forfeited due to a shortage of players. In order to make a decision, he must determine which option provides the most valuable benefits in his opinion.

This is a simple example, but it illustrates the type of critical thinking that must be used while making business decisions. Opportunity costs do not appear on an expense report, but as a decision-maker, you must consider them.

You may not have to choose between a baseball game and a birthday celebration, but you may find yourself in a similar situation. Perhaps you and your staff have been invited to prevent your work at a trade fair on the same day as a major business gala in your town.

Both occurrences have their own set of advantages, and making a selection based just on monetary expenses would be impossible. They may be comparable or even negligible in that scenario. In order to make an informed selection, you must be aware of both the explicit and implicit advantages of each alternative.

In summary, opportunity costs should be considered whenever a decision must be made. Even things that appear to be obvious good options may have hidden disadvantages that you might not have detected at first.

Opportunity cost formula

The difference between the projected returns of each option is the formula for computing an opportunity cost. Assume you choose option a, which is to invest in the stock market in the hopes of earning capital gains. Meanwhile, option b is to put your money back into the business, with the expectation that better equipment will improve production efficiency, resulting in lower operating costs and a bigger profit margin.


Opportunity cost = FO – CO


FO = Return on best forgone option

CO = Return on chosen option

What does the cost of opportunity have to do with a life change?

When you can only do or have one item but have two or more options, you have an opportunity cost. Suppose you have five dollars. You can either buy a pair of socks or a little fast-food lunch with a drink. You can not have it all. You decide to buy the socks, and the price is equal to the cost of lunch. You paid for the socks, but they cost you lunch.

Suppose you would like to improve your financial status. Because of your lack of education, you work in a low-paying job. You woke eight hours a day, four days a week, and you are barely scraping. You make the decision that you want to make $1 lac per year.

You may need to attend school to further your education. It is possible that you will need to work two or even three jobs. It is possible that you will have to give up some of your current possessions. Your spare time or how hard you work would be the price.

People that make a lot of money have to work very hard to achieve what they have, especially in the beginning. Sure, you see them on the golf course or in their boat now, but they paid a high price to get there unless they were born wealthy.

Many financially well-off people are known to work sixty or eighty hours a week to reach where they were, leaving behind a family or foregoing some of their favorite activities in order to work more hours.

Many people who begin a business or job find that the investment is not worthwhile. When they realize they will be losing someone with whom they have a relationship, they decide it is a price they are not willing to pay.

When they discover that they may be required to work long hours, and I mean long hours, they realize that the expense of their free time is not worth it. If you want to change something about your life, your personality, or your character, you must understand that you are still giving up something, and it will cost you money.

Assume you wish to increase your assertiveness. Taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone may be the price. You will have to force yourself to speak up when you would typically let it go to become more aggressive.

You might get a response from the other individual. It is possible that you will have to defend your viewpoint. That is not something you are accustomed to, and it will be unsettling. That sensation might be unpleasant for you. It was the price you paid for your comfort.

Perhaps you state that you want to increase your productivity. Perhaps the price is that you no longer have time to sit in front of the television at night. You had to give up that comfort in order to be more productive; it was the price you had to pay.

You will not succeed in what you want to do if you are unwilling to pay the price. If you are not prepared to put in the effort, then stop whining and accept that you decided to be where you are and that you must learn to appreciate it.

Online opportunities and opportunity costs

Every day, the number of online marketing mentors increases. Every time one turns around,  he or she may discover a new website with useful marketing tools, and the site owner is prepared to send further information in exchange for a free how-to guide. The only condition is that you must register on their website. You would think that the information would be valuable enough to deserve a subscription.

The arrangement is that each of those subscriptions (site owners) will offer products or services of their own, as well as affiliates they advertise, in addition to some beneficial informational emails. Every product or service supplied, according to each of these emails, will be a must-have, the real deal. Opportunity cost is a term used in cost accounting. This term refers to the fact that when you pick one road or alternative over another, you are sacrificing other alternatives and benefits.

Four tips to choose an online product or service

Any technique, program, or service you are considering investing in should be thoroughly researched. However, you must exercise caution here since if you Google the firm or site name, you will almost certainly run across some of their affiliates ready to declare the product or service’s worth.

The company has partnered with the affiliates. They get paid a set percentage for each visitor they refer over, whether it is a visitor who makes a purchase or responds to another call-to-action.

Inquire about friends, writers, and marketers you trust about the organization or entrepreneur in which you are considering investing time, money, or both. If no one you know can help, make sure to follow tip number one.

Stop searching for others until you have gotten your money’s worth out of your initial investment once you have made your decision and purchased that goods or service. At the very least, wait until you have reviewed and worked on the first purchase before continuing. This means that one can fall into the trap of buying one application and then buying another before even looking at it. This is a big mistake that will cost you both time and money. If one had spent more time on the first project, he or she could have understood that the second and third purchases were unnecessary.

When deciding whether or not to spend time or money, consider the opportunity cost. By implementing these suggestions into your writing and marketing endeavors, you should be able to maximize the return on your investment while also saving time and money.

Opportunity costs for college graduates

In the current economic context, graduating from college is a frightening prospect. Even if fresh graduates are fortunate enough to land a solid job right away, there are numerous more aspects to consider in order to maximize one’s financial status. Each situation has a unique opportunity cost, and the only way to know the appropriate answer to any of the questions is to analyze the various outcomes and figure out what would work best for you.

The cost of a substitute that must be forgone in order to pursue another mutually exclusive action is known as opportunity cost. In other words, the advantages of one option outweigh the advantages of the other or are not considered.

It is natural to want to feel independent after college by moving out of your parents’ house and into your own apartment. A common misconception is that renting is a waste of money. True, the money you pay for rent will never be seen again, but assuming you have a landlord who will take care of household repairs, your home maintenance costs will drop dramatically when you rent.

Furthermore, a year-to-year lease allows you to simply pick up and move at the end of the year if you so desire. Real estate ownership, on the other hand, is an investment that most people hope will pay off in the future. With proper maintenance and a favorable housing market, one’s home could be worth much more than it cost to purchase.

However, the opportunity cost of owning a home is that your money is now almost entirely devoted to a mortgage and home maintenance when it could have been spent on lower rent, greater flexibility, and more money for leisure activities.

However, moving back home after college may be the smartest, though least desirable, the decision you can make in terms of your living situation. In just a year or two, you could significantly increase the funds available for a future down payment, lowering mortgage payments and freeing up money for your newly independent life.

Aside from the housing situation, getting around every day is a problem. If you do decide to buy a car, there are a few things to consider. Is it better to finance an older car with a multi-year loan or save up and pay for it all at once? This raises the issue of opportunity costs once more.

While not having monthly payments will save you money, older cars usually come with higher maintenance costs. Furthermore, an older vehicle may not have the same low gas usage as a modern, more energy-efficient vehicle.

However, with a newer and financed car, money is locked up in monthly payments when it could have been put to better use. A car loan’s interest payments add up. In the end, you will be paying more than the car’s price due to interest payments, regardless of the loan’s term. Finally, there is a third option, public transportation, which is less desirable than the independence of owning a car.

The repayment of school debts is the last of the presented post-graduate opportunity expenses. You may not be aware of the opportunity cost that has already been factored into your college decision.

A four-year wage was sacrificed in exchange for the higher earning potential that comes with a college diploma. Now it is time to pay off that degree. The majority of student loans have ten, fifteen, twenty, or more years of repayment. As a result, unless your school was prohibitively expensive, monthly student loan payments are often minimal.

Paying off student debt early may appear to be a tempting alternative, but it will not save you money and will lower the amount of money available to invest in other chances. Furthermore, paying off a twenty-year loan early would require a significant sum of money. Paying the little monthly payments on time, on the other hand, will free up money to put into other assets.

These are only a few of the scenarios that recent college graduates will encounter after graduation, as well as some of the associated opportunity costs. You can definitely come up with a slew of such scenarios and accompanying opportunity costs that will come up in your own life. Finally, it comes down to what works best for you in terms of your current financial situation and where you hope to be in the future.

Opportunity cost and losing money to debt

Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. This is a famous quote by Albert Einstein. Most people, on the other hand, are unaware of how much interest they miss out on each year.

The majority of the money that people may be saving goes out of their pockets. A major amount of it goes to the banks in the form of debt and interest, to the government in the form of taxes, and the remainder remains unrealized because it was never earned and is therefore lost to opportunity cost that is interest lost.

However, by altering your spending habits, you can start saving more and put yourself on a path to financial success. Examine these three primary issues and the solutions available to close the gaps.

The first issue is money that has been lost to banks. Americans save money in no-liquidity accounts, which means the money can’t be used or is locked up for a set period of time. The issue is that they must then go out and fund their purchases.

This implies they are losing money to banks in the form of interest and debt that they could be saving. However, there is a solution: self-financing your purchases. This is a good solution, but you must reconsider your financial situation.

When you have an asset, such as cash, you do not want to trade it for liability, such as a car, unless you can pay it back. This is the difference between being wealthy and being impoverished. A financially wise person will lend their assets to themselves and set up a repayment arrangement right away.

You would have to pay interest if you borrowed money from a bank. Is your money more valuable or less valuable than the banks? The response is that it is more significant. As a result, when we borrow assets, we must repay ourselves with interest.

You would need not only the money to make the purchase, but also the additional cash flow to repay the asset. This is a wise financial decision and how you should spend your money. At the same time, you will be putting extra money in your pocket that would otherwise be paid to banks, increasing your asset column.

You will begin to put your money in a place where it is maximized, meaning it is always growing, by putting it in liquidity (a place where you can access your money). When you do not use your money, it will grow; when you do use it, you may manage how much it grows by paying yourself interest.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution; whatever works best for your needs and risk tolerance. Mutual funds, equities, bank savings accounts, life insurance policies, and any other place that provides liquidity or access to your money are just a few examples.

This is essentially a savings program that is enforced. Most Americans, on the other hand, already follow a payment schedule. By putting yourself on an amortization schedule rate of 8 percent to 12 percent, you will build a habit that will help you save far more money than you think over the course of your life.

Taxes are the next issue. Many Americans invest their money in tax-deferred accounts. By deferring taxes, you risk paying higher taxes in the future. Because of the loss of deductions, many people find themselves in higher tax bands as they get older. At the same time, we currently have historically low tax brackets.

Smart tax methods can help you increase your money while paying as little tax as possible, allowing you to put more money back into your asset column. This entails determining the most tax-efficient way to build your money. Also, as you get closer to retirement, be conscious of the tax deductions you will be giving up. Also, look into tax-saving vehicles that allow you to pay your taxes now rather than later.

The final issue is one of opportunity. Those who pay cash for their purchases, such as cars, sometimes save money for two to three years to make these expenditures. The issue is that every day your money stays in a side account earning little or no interest is an opportunity squandered, and as a result, assets are lost.

This emphasizes the importance of finding safe haven for your money while it is not in use. A missed chance can cost a lot of money in the long run. Compound interest is tremendously powerful, as Einstein’s remark illustrates.

In the end, a few tiny changes in each category will have a significant impact on your financial situation. You must, however, have a strategy and stick to it. This can mean the difference between being impoverished and being affluent throughout the course of your life.

What an opportunity cost can be?

Of the many types of opportunity costs, the following are the most apparent:


Your layout would be much less than if you bought a franchise or opened your own store to sell things, or even if you sold stock on ebay.


When compared to running a traditional business, where you must hire employees, purchase inventory, and pay for office space, including business rates and energy costs, running an internet business is a bargain.

Compensation plan

Instant payments into your account, as opposed to individuals buying on credit from you or payment upon completion of the project or job in the service industry.


It is your business, so you set your own hours. The more you put in, the more you get out, which is hard to say if you are doing work for 40 hours a week and getting little recognition from your boss.


You can work from anywhere, which means you would not have to join the race every morning, struggling for space in overcrowded carriages or being trapped in traffic.


This is why you are doing it; it is what you want and what you are striving toward, and you are aware that the benefits are enormous and that they can be attained in a relatively short period of time. Why would you want to work really hard for so many years and not see any results, knowing that you are assisting in the making of someone else wealthy?

Opportunity cost and making better decisions in life

You may believe that a particular opportunity provides you with a distinct advantage, but you must also recognize that in order to obtain it, you will have to give up something else that can be time, money, miles, physical or mental energy, or whatever the case may be.

The key to evaluating the true opportunity cost or subjective value in your circumstances is to weigh the benefits against the costs and see if the remainder meets or exceeds your original motivation for making the decision.

Perfecting the art of assessing the opportunity cost as a means of making better judgments would be extremely beneficial. Making decisions that accurately reflect who we are. Decisions that promote our life’s values and ensure our pleasure in the future.

The first step, of course, is to determine our values. Many people, believe it or not, are so accustomed to living by other people’s creeds and standards that they struggle to know where they stand in many areas when asked to remove all outside influences and speak from their inner convictions.

The next phase is to teach your mind to make better decisions once you have established your values. When it comes to making personal decisions, many of us seek professional advice and conduct research on the internet.

Learning to make smarter decisions entails looking beyond immediately perceived worth and instead of calculating the opportunity cost of each chance you are presented with. It takes time to acclimate to this mindset, but once you do, you will notice that it gets easier with each new difficulty you face.

Here are some examples of how balancing the opportunity cost might help you make better judgments in real life.

Our professional lives

On paper, a higher salary appears to be a good thing. Nonetheless, we must consider whether the highest compensation in our industry is worth the life sacrifices required to keep such a good job. The highest paying occupations may need more of your time due to tighter deadlines, increased responsibility, frequent travel, and pressure to achieve faster outcomes.

Plans for vacations

Suppose you are looking for a good deal on a hotel room. You want to receive the finest bargain possible, which usually translates into rates. However, you must account for additional time spent traveling between the hotel and your daily destinations, as well as gas mileage and other factors.

Purchasing and business decisions

We choose which banks, credit card firms, and insurance companies to conduct business with based on perceived value, what we think we will get out of the arrangement. However, the value they provide may not be compatible with our way of life.

Many credit card companies include benefits such as the ability to earn travel points that may be used to pay for airfare. This may appear to be a benefit, but if you are not a frequent traveler, this offer will be of far less value to you than it will to someone who does business in a variety of cities on a regular basis.

The point here is that we can not entirely rely on what other people say in order to make decisions that will benefit our future happiness. Instead, we must carefully decide whether the circumstance will benefit only us in that specific situation. We will become stronger in recognizing what we want out of life and how to acquire it by practicing how to analyze the opportunity cost in a way that yields the best result.

Opportunity cost and invoice factoring

After receiving the initial quote, many business owners who have investigated invoice factoring as a means of generating working cash feel it is too expensive. The firm’s market share, revenue cycle, and profits can all suffer if it decides not to move forward based on the factoring fee structure.

Despite the fact that accounts receivable factoring has been around for centuries, many business owners and executives are unaware of how it works. When a factoring company gets an application and determines that the applicant is a good fit for an invoice factoring arrangement, they will send a letter of intent to the applicant.

The letter of intent specifies the proposed contract term, advance rate, and factoring charge expressed as a percentage of the number of invoices factored, all of which are subject to due diligence.

The price structure, the final component of the letter of intent, is sometimes a source of concern for potential factoring clients. Despite the fact that they are two different products, factoring is more expensive than standard bank lines. For individuals who can not acquire a bank loan and are considering factoring to fund their company’s growth or survival, the cost of the financing is necessary.


The potential gains that an individual, investor, or organization misses out on when choosing one option over another are referred to as opportunity costs. Because opportunity costs are invisible by definition, they are easy to overlook. Understanding the opportunities that may be missed when a company or individual chooses one investment over other assists in better decision-making.

John Otero

John Otero

John Otero is an industry practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. He has held various senior management roles both in the insurance companies and insurance brokers during this span of time. He began his insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. He got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how he fell in love with the industry. He saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. John has diverse experience in corporate & consumer insurance services, across a range of vocations. His specialties include Major Corporate risk management and insurance programs, and Financial Lines He has been instrumental in making his firm as one of the leading organizations in the country in generating sustainable rapid growth of the company while maintaining service excellence to clients.

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