Actually, I think of money spent on a jacket as money I can't spend on boots, skis, lift ticket, etc., which are all more important to my ski day than a jacket that is anything more than functionally sufficient. If the jacket is hardy and working in year one, I expect to still be using it 5, 8, 10 years later. Not so with my skis.
Which is why there is more utility per dollar in a jacket than there is in a pair of skis. Boots are a good point as they also outlast many pairs of skis. Paying what you pair for skis or boots on a good jacket is a wise investment.
The point is, you don't have to pay big bucks (of course, I haven't paid over $550 for skis plus bindings...EVER) to get a jacket that does the job. My favorite jackets ever were system jackets from Lands' End and Eddie Bauer. If I hadn't hit that tree years ago and had it cut off me, I'd still be using that Lands' End jacket. :( As it is, my Eddie Bauer is going on 5 years old and the intervening Arcteryx I only used one season. It just wasn't flexible enough for changing conditions, even though it was great in cold conditions, its features in the long run couldn't match the now aging Eddie Bauer I have. And I can assure you that the three pieces together were under $300 because I don't have much money. I'm sure it was even available for LESS than that, because I bought it around November when winter stuff is not discounted very often. (I didn't pay more than $200 for the Arcteryx because I got it from Backcountry at the end of a season, otherwise I wouldn't own it.)