I'm still using my original mat. It's got cuts through it, but it still sticks fine. I've used it since I got it last Christmas, but I don't use it daily like some do. If I'm doing something that is very intricate, I use a 2nd mat that I have, just so I know the paper will stick really well. For shapes, lettering and fairly easy cuts I use my original one.
The first mat probably won't last as long because it takes some trial and error to figure out how to set the depth of the blade. Too deep will cut, or mark, the mat, but if the blade isn't deep enough it won't make good cuts. It takes some playing around to know the settings for what you're cutting. It's not difficult, but be prepared to possibly replace your first mat sooner than would be normal.
If you can do it, I'd still go with the $269 one since it will probably cost more than $20 to buy an extra mat and blade, not even counting the pick-up tool and pens. If you can't, then your problem is solved anyway
The sooner you make a decision, the sooner you'll have it :>) but I know it's a major scrappy purchase. ~Judy