Cost. That word carries more weight than many people actually realise. But its meanings differ. The angle you take it from will determine the best meaning. The value you attach to something will determine if it is worth the cost or otherwise. Essentially, it is rational to compare costs against benefits. There is a cost attached to virtually everything that you do, even when you might not realise this.
What is cost?
In simple sense, cost is the amount you pay to buy or acquire something. It’s that simple, right? But you should note that cost is never the same for different individuals, actors or parties. For instance, what a producer or distributor may regard as cost is not necessarily the same as what you as a buyer would consider as cost. There are different types of cost – an economist or account will tell you that. However, the concept of opportunity cost in economics is closest to the kind of cost I’m talking about here. It could be argued that the said concept captures the real cost which many do not seem to take notice of.
Opportunity cost (also known as economic cost) does not refer to money cost, which is what an accountant considers. According to this concept, the real or true cost of anything is the next-best alternative you will have to forgo in order to get that thing. Imagine you have N1,000 to spend on a mobile airtime top-up card, movie ticket, or meal (arranged in order of importance). You now decided to get an airtime recharge card with your money. An accountant will consider the N1,000 spent as cost, but the movie ticket (the next-best alternative forgone) is considered by an economist the cost of your decision to get a top-up card.
Cost in everything
There is cost (and, of course, benefits) in everything in life. It is present in both your decisions and indecisions. In other words, you incur a cost whether you do something or you don’t. You could decide to acquire education or learn a trade. If you decide on education against trade, you might become more successful or end up working for someone who learned a trade in years to come. Those years spent in school make up your cost. In today’s economy, education doesn’t necessarily translate to wealth. But an educated person still has the edge over a rich, uneducated person in certain aspects.
You may as well decide not to get education or learn a trade either. That will save you from the stress and time consumption that go with both – these are your benefits. But down the line, someone who has received education or learnt a trade will reap the benefits and it will be your time to pay the cost (battle penury).
There are many other decisions in life which involve a cost or, if you prefer, a trade-off. Again, you may choose to remain single to avoid the stress and responsibility that come with marriage. But the price you pay may include lack of companionship (by spouse and/or children) and poverty as you grow older. Loneliness may even lead to untimely death.
There is also a cost life or death amongst other things. You could choose life and continue to face the disappointments and challenges (the cost) of everyday living. Or you may decide to end it all, even though that will deprive you of repentance and care of your loved ones (cost). The greater cost of choosing to end one’s life is eternal damnation in hell! In this case, one could see choosing to live sure offers greater benefits.
The onus falls squarely on you when it comes to deciding whether a cost is worth paying or not. You need to determine if the cost will prove to be worthwhile in the end in terms of benefits. Should you go for that master’s degree, get married, or do any other things? Do not let the society decide for you. Decide on what’s best for you – after all, it’s your life and you pay the cost. But whatever you do, make sure the cost you incur leads to more worthwhile benefits (whatever you picture those to be). It is always better to pay the cost now and enjoy the benefits later. Do the hard part now and reap the rewards afterwards.