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You need to replace are the cutting mats and occasionally the blades. I don't remember if the box comes with a cutting mat in it...
It does come with the George and Basic Shapes cartridge. The cartridges are really where the cost comes in, I think, though you can find places online where they're pretty cheap. Full price in the stores, though, the full cartridges are $89.99, and the solutions ones are around 45? I think...I can't remember.
But yes, I'm pretty sure that the box contains all you need to make it work.
It does come with a cutting mat and is already to use when you take it out of the box! A lot of people clean their mat with a baby wipe to get more uses, and they are only 5 or 6 dollars to replace I'm pretty sure. I haven't had to replace mine yet. Also, I haven't paid more than $29.99 for a cartridge! There are lots of sales online!
The mat will be one of the first things you will probably replace but that would be months down the road. I can count on one hand how many mats I've had to replace and you can use coupons from JoAnns and Michaels since it only excludes the machine and cartridges
When I first got the baby Cricut, I couldn't believe haw fast it was to cut out things. I rarely buy embellishments any more, so that has saved money.
I've had my Expression and am on my third mat and have yet to replace the blade. I'm going on a year and a half