Ways the sunk cost fallacy can impact your life

I have spent the last few weeks thinking about my productivity and how I manage my day. I waste far too much time investing in habits that no longer benefit me. To improve my day to day life I am removing negative things and situations. In order to do this I’m examining how the sunk cost fallacy impacts my life and making the necessary changes.

What is the sunk cost fallacy?

It actually started off as an economic term. Your sunk cost is money, time or resources that you invest into a project that cannot be returned. The fallacy is that your sunk cost will have no bearing on any future decision. The fact is that your past financial and emotional investment will influence your future choices and the more you invest the harder it is to abandon something.

Don't fall for the sunk cost fallacy

How does it apply to my life?

Maybe some examples from my life will make it clearer? Peanut joined Brownies last year. The cost of her uniform and her subs were my sunk cost. When she decided she wanted to leave the group I originally refused because I had invested time and money into it. The truth of the matter is that there was no point continuing simply because of past sunk costs. She is much happier now and trying out various alternative activities.

Another example is the dreaded Candy Crush game. I have spent over a year playing this darn game. I am on level 711. I’ve invested a great deal of time into this game. I’m sick of it now. It has become a drain on my time but it seemed crazy to give up when I have completed so many levels. The crunch came when I was up until 1am playing a game I no longer enjoy, just so I could beat other people’s scores. That way lies madness. I have deleted the app.

Ways the sunk cost fallacy can impact your life

The sunk cost fallacy can be applied to many diverse situations. Relationships, friendships, hobbies, work, exercise and so much more. Here are a few situations that apply to many people;

  • You stay in an unhappy relationship because you have already invested 5 years into making it work
  • Maintaining awkward friendships because you’ve known each other since school
  • You continue with a hobby that you no longer enjoy because you’ve bought all the equipment
  • You watch every episode of a tv series you don’t like anymore because you have watched it from beginning (I’m thinking about you The Walking Dead)
  • All you eat buffets – you don’t have to eat ALL of the food to get your monies worth
  • Continuing to read a book you aren’t enjoying because you paid for it
  • Going to the gym every day (despite a bad knee) because you’ve got annual membership

Change is good

If things no longer benefit you or make you happy it is ok to change. It doesn’t mean that you have wasted your previous investment. Time well spent is never wasted but that doesn’t mean you cannot change how you use your time in the future. I have started by making changes throughout my day. Maintaining routines because that’s what you’re used to doesn’t achieve anything in the long term. I’ve begun implementing a better system of time management and am already more productive.

Why keep doing the same thing because it’s easier than changing? The easy option is not necessarily the best option. Change is good. Change is refreshing. Don’t continue to invest in something that no longer works for you. Cut your losses. Move on and learn from the experience.

Please leave a comment about any sunk costs that impact your life?

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Ways the sunk cost fallacy can impact your life #selfhelp





  1. 11th December 2017 / 10:48 AM

    You make a lot of sense. I started reading Game of Thrones a couple of summers ago. I didn’t want to watch it but wanted to read it instead to give myself a screen break at night. Anyhow, I lost my flow and struggled with the 2nd book. I don’t even know where it is now. No point carrying on when I wasn’t getting it!

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 5:58 PM

      Sometimes we just carry on because we feel we should rather than because we are gaining something from it. I was the same with the Terry Pratchett books. I really enjoyed the first ones and had a lovely collection going but they got to all be so similar I stopped enjoying them and gave up on finishing the series.

  2. 2nd November 2017 / 11:42 AM

    You’re so right Louisa! I’ve done this so many times and I realised a while ago that I needed to stop. I had no idea it had a name though. 😉
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo

    • Louisa
      3rd November 2017 / 1:15 PM

      I think the key is recognising that even though something doesn’t work for you any more it doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable at the time. This gives you permission to stop feeling guilty

  3. 30th October 2017 / 1:10 PM

    What a fab post! I had to chuckle at the Candy Crush point, I am nowhere near level 711, but totally empathise about being up until 1am playing it – it is so addictive, but a total drain on time. My problem is I procrastinate far too much and need to wind that in! Sim xx #PoCoLo

    • Louisa
      1st November 2017 / 8:18 AM

      It is so addictive isn’t it? It should come with a health warning!!

  4. 29th October 2017 / 12:03 PM

    I like the idea of this. Time wasting is my biggest thing! I’m going to make a list of time wasting activities and bin Some! Yes be better! xx

    • Louisa
      30th October 2017 / 12:35 PM

      I am a bit if a time waster too, it’s easy to get stuck in routines that no longer work for you

  5. 28th October 2017 / 7:49 PM

    Hi Louisa, thanks for stopping by via #pocolo.

    I have never heard of this before, sounds interesting.

    • Louisa
      30th October 2017 / 12:34 PM

      You’re welcome, it’s something you can apply to many areas of your life

  6. 27th October 2017 / 8:08 PM

    Sounds intriguing, I have never heard if this but sounds really effective for productivity X

    • Louisa
      30th October 2017 / 12:33 PM

      It is, cutting out the dead wood helps you to see what really needs doing

  7. 26th October 2017 / 3:48 PM

    Hi Louisa, sunk cost fallacy is not a term I’ve ever heard of, but it has got me thinking. There are some changes I am on the fence about making, but this approach may indeed help me make the decision to whether or not I should make those changes. I’m a thinker and a ditherer and like to be sure… My husband plays the dreaded Candy Crush and does he get ribbed for it. I must ask what level he’s on!

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC, You’ve given me something to think about.


    • Louisa
      27th October 2017 / 3:24 PM

      I hope it helps you come to a decision Debbie. Candy crush is so addictive and even once it’s not fun you are compelled to carry on. I am glad it’s not in my life anymore. I may get some sleep now!! x

  8. Susan
    26th October 2017 / 3:15 PM


    I totally agree with what you said. “Don’t be the same. Be different.”. I really like your article. It is so inspirational. Continue to be an inspiration to many of your readers. God bless.

    • Louisa
      30th October 2017 / 12:37 PM

      Thank you for your lovely comment

  9. 26th October 2017 / 10:00 AM

    That is an interesting way to look at it. Cut your losses. Throwing good money after bad. It is so easy to hang on once time/money/emotion invested. I guess the trick is spotting when it’s happening.

    ps the pie is sweet

    • Louisa
      27th October 2017 / 3:26 PM

      I think if you are aware it’s happening it’s easier to give yourself permission to let go and try something else.

      (Thanks for the pie info)

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