Yes, if you own a Cricut, eventually you're going to have to replace the mat, there is no way around it. I like getting the new mats and I am very careful when I first start to use them, but after a while they start to look old and don't adhere as well. You get use to removing items easily after you cut them, then you move to the new one and you think you're going to rip it trying to pull it up from the sticky mat. At least I got the items quickly and in perfect condition. Like I said before, it's a necessity!
I have 3 dedicated mats. One for black cardstock, one for white and one for brown. I use these alot on my layouts. Black and brown make great shadows/mats. I like having those onto one mat so I can use up a whole sheet before removing it.
I also like to have at least 2 "spare" mats for my current project. So get extras! :D Make scrapping so much easier. :D
I have a Cricut Expression and need the cutting mats. I just wish they lasted longer! Even if you have many, the sticky eventually will not stick after a time. It's money after money but they are necessary with the Cricut machine.