The Sunk Costs Fallacy in Financial Analysis

Lily Simpson
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The way we go about our daily lives is governed by a variety of fallacies. This is true regardless of whether we are familiar with them or not. You will discover that we know very little about the majority of them, but we continue to participate in them anyway. A similar example is the sunk cost fallacy. We are certain that a large number of people participate in it, but we are unsure of its name. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at what it is and how it influences the financial decisions we make.

What exactly is the sunken cost fallacy referring to?

The sunk cost fallacy asserts that a cost that has already been incurred and paid for cannot be reversed, regardless of our future actions. To put it another way, it’s the equivalent of picking up separated milk and hoping you can still use it. Claiming a bonus in an online Australian casino is similar to discovering later that you do not have enough funds to meet the bonus’s wagering requirements.

Where in the Budget Can I Find It?

The sunk cost fallacy is the practice of attempting to recoup financial resources over which a person is aware they have no control. This can refer to investments or any other predetermined cost that you have already paid for, only to discover that you will not be able to recover the money. To use the sunk cost fallacy, you must be mentally capable of accepting irreversible financial actions in their current state. You must do so because if you do not accept them, you may end up making rash decisions in the future that will stymie your progress and prevent you from reaching your goals.

How to Avoid the “Sunk Cost Fallacy”-Induced Financial Mistakes

Always make every effort to be aware of the consequences of your decisions. As a result, you are required to have a high level of expertise in everything you do. Before making any decisions that could affect your financial situation, avoid playing games at an online casino or spending money on unnecessary activities.

Before making any financial decisions, it is critical to calculating both the gains and losses that could result from those decisions. Failure to do so may lead to feelings of regret in the future.

Make an effort to always have a backup plan ready to go, regardless of the outcome of your financial investment.

Individual influences

Sunk costs are expenses that have already been incurred but cannot be recovered; they are referred to as such in economics. In the preceding example, whether you attended the performance or not, the $50 you spent on concert tickets would not be recouped.

It is irrational to use irrecoverable costs as a rationale for deciding on the present, and as such, it should not be a factor in the current decision-making process. If we acted rationally, the only costs and benefits we would consider are those that would arise in the future. This is because regardless of whether or not the decision is carried out, we will not receive our investment back.

We are committing the sunk cost fallacy by considering factors other than the available options, which means that we are making irrational decisions. The fallacy has an impact on many aspects of our lives, resulting in less-than-ideal outcomes.

These outcomes can range from deciding to stay with a partner despite our dissatisfaction because we have already invested years of our lives with them to continue to spend money renovating an old house even though it would be cheaper to buy a new one. After all, we have already invested money into it. Another example would be deciding to stay with a partner despite our dissatisfaction because we have already invested years of our lives with them.

Systemic ramifications

The sunk cost fallacy is not limited to having an impact on insignificant daily decisions such as whether or not to attend a concert. It has also been demonstrated that it has an impact on the decisions made by businesses and governments.

The so-called Concorde fallacy is a well-known example of how the sunk cost fallacy can influence large-scale decisions. The Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee met in 1956 to discuss the development of a supersonic airplane that would later be known as the Concorde.

The project was estimated to cost nearly $100 million, and it included participation from French and British engine manufacturers, as well as the governments of France and Britain.

Long before the project was finished, it was clear that there would be rising costs, and that the financial gains generated by the plane once it was in service would not be enough to cover those costs.

Despite this, progress on the project was made. Because the manufacturers and governments involved had already invested significant monetary resources and time in the project, they were motivated to see it through to completion. This resulted in a loss of millions of dollars, and the Concorde only flew for a little more than a quarter-century. 

Significant amounts of money, time, and effort are wasted when governments and large corporations, such as those involved in the Concorde project, fall victim to cognitive fallacies like the sunk cost fallacy. This is because the sunk costs would never be recovered regardless of whether the project was abandoned. Because governments sometimes fund projects with money collected from taxpayers, continuing to believe in the sunk cost fallacy may hurt all of us.


What it truly is

The sunk cost fallacy refers to our tendency to continue pursuing an endeavor that we have already committed to in terms of money, time, or effort. This fallacy describes our proclivity to pursue an endeavor even when the costs cannot be recovered.

Why does it happen?

The sunk cost fallacy arises from the fact that our emotions frequently lead us to deviate from rational decisions. Giving up on a project after making a commitment to it and investing resources in it is highly likely to result in negative feelings of guilt and wastefulness. We are more likely to stick to a decision we have invested in even if it is not in our best interests because we do not want to experience the distressing emotions that come with loss.