Seems like it's becoming harder and harder to make decisions. Unless, that is, we find some way to rank options in terms of dollars and cents. Cents, not sense, rule. We are led to believe that everything is binary. Yes or no. A complex issue can be reduced to a series of steps, the reduction continuing, if necessary, until we have reached a list of yes/no, go/no-go, black/white elements. Fill in the blanks and your problem is solved. Non of the pesky inconvenience of actually having to deal with uncertainty or risk. Why did you even get me started on this?
I'll have to admit that economics do come into play in my biking decisions. I started riding about 4 or 5 years ago - it's already starting to become a blur, that period separating not riding from riding. Since I came late to the cycling scene, I did enter with some level of maturity. When you stop giggling, I'll continue. OK, maybe it wasn't exactly maturity; let's go with experience mixed with common sense. A counterpoint to my general mathematical/engineering approach.
Anyway, over the years, I learned that cheap and good quality at a reasonable price do not mean the same thing. Cheap means cheap. You are often likely to get less than you paid for, leading to disappointment and additional expense since you now must fix or replace the item you got at that what seemed at the time bargain price.
So, I decided I would learn what I could about the equipment I needed. Pour over product reviews, ask more experienced riders (they weren't hard to find at the start of all of this); you know the drill. Then, when I decided on what I thought would be a good investment, I'd pay what I needed. Sure, I'd look for the best price, but my decision was based on the expectation of getting durable equipment that would perform its intended function well.
This approach has served me pretty well. My bike is capable well beyond my riding skills. I have comfortable shorts, shoes that have stood up to years of hard work, jerseys that do keep you cool - and which are wicked stylish, I might add - and helmets that protect. I have concrete proof of the latter, by the way. Make that asphalt proof.
With all of this, I still let economics dictate my decisions in some cases. It shouldn't come as any surprise that bicycle parts eventually wear out with use. So, looking at my chain ring (a triple, by the way), it is clear that the big ring, being, well - bigger - would be more expensive to replace than say the middle or little rings. So, for the sake of economy, I try to stay out of the big ring as much as possible.
I can report that this strategy has worked quite well. I have yet to need a new big ring. What can I say? Just an economics genius!