Here's a few suggestions....
Don't buy used (the stuff will be all beat up).
Buy new from a previous season. You can get good stuff at a huge savings.
Example- today I saw my exact model boots from 2 seasons ago. I still use and love these boots. They cost me about $900 bucks. Now they are selling for $90!
Problem is: if you are new, how do you know what to buy?
You've got to explain to a sales guy the facts of life: you are new, you don't need this year's model, and if they don't want to (or can't) sell you a previous year's model you will go somewhere else. Don't pay list for this year's model. You will not get as much value. Technology doesn't change enough year-to-year for you to tell the difference.
I would call around and look for a sympathetic sales person. Keep looking until you talk to someone and they tell you that have some one or two year old new gear for you to look at.
Try Summit Ski and Sports in Framingham. Good people.http://www.summitskishop.com/
Next- get your boots fit by an expert! This is the single most important piece of gear you will buy. And buying the best means squat if it doesn't fit right. Buy a good boot and pay to have it perfectly fit. The best guy I know is in Stowe VT but I hear the folks at Summit are good too.
Buy the boot from them and ask them to fit it! If it takes less than an hour to buy and fit a pair of boots, it's probably because you haven't had them properly fit.
Absolutely don't walk into a ski warehouse or ski show, and simply try on a pair of boots by yourself and buy them. You will be sorry. If you are brand new to sking you don't have the skills to tell a good fit from a bad one. Get the help you need.