As someone who confronted similar challenges in my professional life, I'm sympathetic.
But is anyone else slightly frustrated by the fact that as each new year's models come out, the quality of the components goes down, and easier to market and explain "features" get added on as compensation?
Deore becomes Alivio; Alivio becomes Acera; Acera becomes Altus; inferior wheels and tires; cheap hubs... but --wow!-- disk brakes!! They might be the cheesiest, least expensive, most unreliable disk brakes available, with neither the utility or longevity of high-quality rim brakes, but, by god, they're disk brakes.
As I said, I'm sympathetic. I come from the consumer electronics industry and the pressure to maintain (or lower) prices combined with the clamor for ever more features of dubious utility means something's got to give. And what gives is the stuff you can't see that the unsophisticated public yawns at: robust power supplies, adequate heat sinks, quality boards, resisters, capacitors...in short, trading stuff that matters for stuff that doesn't much.
I'm big on used gear in any event, as I think I wind up with a lot more bang for my buck and there are countless seldom/never ridden bikes out there, but it's really kind of sad when I find myself passing on a pristine 2013 something-or-other because the 2012 was better and the 2011 was better yet.