Some may argue that your boots are the most important piece of gear whether you are skiing or snowboarding: I agree. I am easy going in terms of fashion on and off the slopes, but the one thing I invest in religiously is any item that goes on my feet. We have all bought cheap shoes in an attempt to save money and paid for it. The same applies to your ski boots.
Now I was not born a wise man; in fact I wore the same pair of boots for over a decade believing that they fit me perfectly. It was only when I had a bit more income at my disposal that I choose to replace my boots and in doing so I received an education in boot fitting from a 30 year vet.
Firstly you have to fit the boot length. This is static and cannot be adjusted. The second step was to have the liners heated and moulded. Then you walk. I spent time in our office wandering around for a couple hours as the boots rubbed me in all the wrong places. Then came the magic. By adjusting the insert below the foot the fit can be changed. Additionally the shop I use in Edmonton has a machine that will press out any areas of concern. I had the sides pressed out in a couple of spots, then wore the boots around the office, then had them pressed once more. Bingo: I was ready to ski in them. After a short early season day at Marmot Basin I was down to just one area of concern on my left boot which I had adjusted the next week.
The results were well worth the effort. My boots support my feet and ankles in every way imaginable. Do they improve my skiing? I am so much more comfortable on hill and feel my connection with the boards under me is responsive and tight. The cost? It was well worth spending the time and effort. I used to rush at the end of the day to free my aching feet, releasing pained gasps as I unsheathed the poor appendages.
Now I still have a pile of fellow skiers I know who have not made the investment into modern day technology. Some have skied in the same boots for over 15 years! I am now a preacher in favour of upgrading if possible, as my experience has been nothing less than Golden.
I'd take fresh cord over powder every day of the week! ;)