Not sure about the rest of the West, but no doubt Colorado's Front Range areas are the best bang for the buck I know of if you capitalize on the many types of ticket pricing deals.
In the mid-Atlantic some of the strategies I usually pursue are:
-many areas offer moderate to deep early and late season discounts on tickets and lodging. For example, every mid-Dec Wisp, MD offers a two day "birthday" lift ticket for $7 per day. Massanutten, VA offers $15 (price may be slightly different) tickets 7 days a week usually starting early to mid March.
-many local ski shops sponsor demo days with very inexpensive lift tickets and free demos, last year I caught back to back weekday demo days at Timberline, WV on a Thurs and Fri in early Jan for $2 per day.
-pre-season ski shows offer the opportunity to get free or deeply discounted tickets
-there are some gas station (northern VT areas?) and grocery store deals (Snowshoe, WV) in the East too, search or ask at Epic.
-believe some of the Eastern versions of those big Entertainment coupon books offer two-fers on tickets for some Eastern areas.
-a lot of areas, particularly in New Hampshire (Wildcat, Cannon, Waterville?) routinely offer two-fer type discounts on weekday skiing throughout the winter.
-some Eastern areas, for example Sugarloaf ME, offer hefty discounts on multi-weekday lodging and ticket packages in the coldest part of January.
Key to finding these deals is surfing the web at places like Epic, visiting local shops and ski areas (and their respective websites), and generally networking with fellow powder freaks.
Skiing and boarding most definitely does not have to be an activity reserved exclusively for the moneyed few