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Opportunity Cost


Opportunity cost is a financial concept that refers to the potential benefit that an individual or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another. It’s essentially the loss of potential gain from other options when one option is chosen. This cost is usually considered when assessing the effectiveness of resource allocations.


The phonetics of the keyword “Opportunity Cost” would be: /ˌɒpəˈtjuːnɪti kɒst/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Opportunity Cost represents the potential benefits an individual, investor, or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another. It is the cost of forgoing the next best option.</li><li>Opportunity Cost is a key concept in economics because it helps to understand the true cost of decisions, showing that the cost of any activity is not just the direct costs, but also the loss of other alternatives.</li><li>Although it is an intangible cost and not easily quantifiable, understanding Opportunity Cost enables better decision-making because it considers all possible options and helps to analyze the potential benefits from missed opportunities.</li></ol>


Opportunity cost is a crucial concept in business and finance as it refers to the potential benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another. It’s important because it helps in decision-making and strategy planning, by allowing businesses to identify and assess the potential loss of other alternatives when one option is chosen. Essentially, it’s the income a business could have earned if its resources had been used in the next best way. Understanding this concept can help businesses effectively allocate resources, mitigate risks, and maximize profits, by ensuring they are selecting the option that gives the best return on investment, considering all possibilities.


Opportunity cost, in economic and financial context, is a fundamental concept used to weave wise, profit-oriented decisions in both personal and business undertakings. It serves as a gauge of alternative choices, pinpointing the potential benefits that may be forgone when choosing one alternative over another. By assessing the opportunity cost, businesses can strategically allocate their resources to various operations, maximizing their overall performance and profit margin.This concept plays an integral role in diverting resources most efficiently, which is imperative to optimize financial performance. For companies, understanding opportunity cost helps to ensure that scarce resources – whether it’s time, money, or workforce – are utilized for the most profitable operations. On a personal finance level, calculating opportunity cost encourages better decision-making, helping individuals ascertain whether particular expenses are worth the benefits, helping them plan effectively, and prioritize their spending habits wisely.


1. Investing in Stocks: Suppose a business individual has $10,000 and they are considering whether to invest that money in stocks or put it in a savings account. If they choose to invest in stocks, the opportunity cost is the potential interest they could have earned from the savings account. 2. Higher Education: A person who chooses to attend university for 4 years faces the opportunity cost of not working during that time. Their opportunity cost would be the income they could have earned from a job in those 4 years.3. Purchasing Equipment: In a manufacturing company, when capital is used to purchase new equipment, the opportunity cost is what the money could have been spent on instead, such as marketing or employee salary increases. The opportunity cost in this example could also include the potential profit lost from the halt of production during the equipment installation and adjustment period.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Opportunity Cost?

Opportunity Cost is an economics term that refers to the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

Can you provide an example of Opportunity Cost?

Absolutely. If you invest $1,000 in a stock that earns 5% instead of in a bond that earns 10%, the opportunity cost is the 5% you could have earned by investing in the bond instead of the stock.

Why is Opportunity Cost significant in decision making?

Understanding Opportunity Cost helps businesses and individuals make informed decisions about money, time, or any scarce resources by outlining what is potentially lost or gained by choosing one option over another.

Does Opportunity Cost only apply to monetary or financial decisions?

No, Opportunity Cost applies to any decision that involves trade-offs. For example, choosing to spend an hour studying over watching TV carries an opportunity cost in terms of leisure time.

How can Opportunity Cost impact a business?

Business decisions often involve considering the potential costs and benefits of different options. By understanding the opportunity costs, businesses can allocate their resources more efficiently and make investment decisions that best support their goals.

How is Opportunity Cost calculated?

Opportunity Cost is calculated by comparing the returns or benefits of the chosen option with those of the next highest unchosen alternative.

What is the relationship between Opportunity Cost and risk?

Opportunity Cost can represent the risk of potential loss from the next best choice. The higher the opportunity cost, the higher the risk associated with the primary choice.

Can Opportunity Cost be negative?

Yes, Opportunity Cost can be negative if the course of action chosen results in a worse outcome than the alternatives that were not chosen.

Are opportunity costs recorded on financial statements?

No, opportunity costs are not recorded on financial statements. They are considered implicit costs and are used for internal decision making.

: Is it possible for the Opportunity Cost to be zero?

: Yes, the Opportunity Cost can be zero when there is no loss of return in choosing one option over the other – meaning each option is yielding the same return.

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