I have owned my Cricut for a few months now and have mixed emotions about it.
I only have 5 cartridges and at $50-$90 a pop on top of the hefty $400 price tag for the machine itself, I decided to look into other sources. There is an alternate program you can purchase which hooks up to the Cricut allowing you to cut any true type font/image you can imagine. It costs about $75, which compared to a cartridge is a steal!
My other vice is the constant replacement of the mats, it doesn't seem like a very "green" product if you ask me. With the added expence (and waste) of the mats, again I have turned to other alternatives. If you have an old mat that has lost it's stickieness, purchase a 2 way glue pen (the large sponge tip type) allowing it to dry, it leaves a residue sticky enough to hold your paper but not too sticky that it doesn't come off :)
Another althernative I have found for those of you who use vinyl for projects and you intend to throw the vinyl out afterwards, instead of purchasing the small rolls made by PC simply use rolls of sticky vinyl kitchen shelf liner(it may not look the prettiest but it does the job). I've used it for dozens of projects and lasts forever at a fraction of the cost!
Now that I have figured out which settings to use for which type of paper (after wasting a lot I might add) and some cost saving alternatives, for the most part my love/hate relationship with Cricut is more love than hate :)