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  • Writer's pictureLuke Miller

Avoid ‘sunk cost’ decision making

While planning a mountain bike trip for the summer I was given two options for bicycles;

1- Bring my own questionably maintained, but well loved machine. Haul it five hours down to Calgary, worry about theft, storage, etc.


2 - Borrow one of the many ready to ride machines in my buddies arsenal, already at location (he owns a bike shop). This scenario involves no travel hassle, the bike is already waiting and ready, and likely newer and nicer than my own.

For some crazy reason, my first instinct is always to use my own machine, as I want to “make good use” out of my previous expenditure. This helps me feel good about justifying my past purchase decision.

It takes training and practice to isolate the new decision as mutually exclusive and separate from the past, and I notice this ‘sunk cost’ thinking is hard for many people to overcome.

My previous expense and the existence of my current bike, has no impact on the pros and cons of the current decision.

The real question is …

Do I want to ride my own bike enough to offset the extra effort involved with transport?

It looks like my bike won’t be going to Calgary this time.

Take a moment and consider each of your decisions in isolation from past investments.

The current cost / benefit analysis of a new decision should not be hampered by the ‘guilt’ associated with previous choices.

Avoid the sunk cost fallacy.

  • Now that’s a peak ethos

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