Basic Economics: Opportunity Cost and Sunk Cost

I’ve found another great blog thanks to the author, Dong, commenting here at FreshBlogger. His blog can be found at and contains some valuable information about financial subjects. I just read his latest article on Opportunity Cost and Sunk Cost and found it to be well-written and easy for the layman to understand.

The article details the different costs that we should take into account when making financial decisions. In fact, as Dong points out, any decisions we make should take into account these factors, or not, as the case may be.

Basically, the article defines opportunity cost and sunk cost and what each means in the context of making decisions. Very briefly, opportunity cost is the cost of not being able to do one thing because you’ve chosen to do another. Sunk cost is the cost of whatever you’ve already spent, whether it was money, time, or effort. Read Dong’s article for a much more in-depth definition of both terms and some good examples.

I find it particularly interesting that we often consider what we’ve already spent when deciding to continue an activity. In a real economic sense, this doesn’t make sense. Dong mentions that it’s “throwing good money after bad” and this is true in a lot of cases. We tend to continue on in a bad job, bad relationship, bad investment, etc, just because of how much we’ve invested already.

Sometimes, this is the right thing to do when considering the opportunity cost. If there are no other jobs to be had, then the opportunity cost of quitting your job is clearly too high (unless you have another lucrative way of making money and/or trimming expenses). The opportunity cost of leaving a bad relationship may be that children will go without a parent or stable family environment. The opportunity cost of leaving a bad investment could be higher taxes in the short term or possibly some other penalties.

It’s not always a clear cut decision to make. However, the article offers some valuable insights into some important costs that we should consider in making decisions in our lives. If people spent a little more time thinking about the opportunity cost and less about the sunk cost, they might make better decisions. Check out Dong’s article and let him know what you think.

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4 Responses to Basic Economics: Opportunity Cost and Sunk Cost

  1. John Hunter says:

    Nice post. It is good to see an actual economics post that talks about sensible economic thinking that can help anyone.

  2. ray says:

    Hi, John. I agree. A lot of us consider economics to be a sort of voodoo science because every economist seems to have a completely different take on the economy, but the basic principles are sound and are very useful in making decisions. Thanks for commenting!

  3. LA Head Shot Photography says:

    I have read some of Dong’s writing, a very savy individual indeed!!!

  4. The principles and reality of capitalist exchange are infectious. They naturally extend their influence beyond the bounds of economics proper, and into the realms of politics, society, and morality. When principles of economic rationality are applied beyond their intended ambit, they lose their justification and merit, but not their power. In particular, the principle and accompanying sensibility of “sunk cost” serves to absolve American social and political institutions of any responsibility to redress past racial injustice with active measures…

    read on at:

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