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Very often it so happens that the cost of operating an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) exceeds the cost of purchasing the IDS itself. In such cases, regular operation and maintenance of the system becomes expensive. Thus, it becomes essential to reduce the operating cost of the IDS without compromising on the performance and reliability of the IDS. Apart from the initial cost of procuring the IDS, other costs include cost of accessories required and cost of administration etc. In this paper we calculate the cost benefit tradeoffs of an IDS. We propose a method to determine the optimum operating point of the IDS. In an effort to solve the problems of the previously proposed metrics, we propose a decision tree based approach to calculate the cost of operating an IDS in a mobile ad hoc network. Mathematically and programmatically we deduce the minimum operating point of operation of an IDS and generate the receiver operating characteristic curve of the IDS. To further ascertain this, we use available network packet capture data and calculate the minimum operating cost of an IDS. The main motive behind this paper is to show that the cost of operating an IDS in a MANET can be minimized and hence the effectiveness and performance of the IDS can be maximized.