It makes sense to spend some $ for an additional 64 or 128 kB. It's cheap in sites like eBay, and you'll certainly note the machine will become faster.

As for Office, you can install Office 2000 next to Office 97. About the worst thing that can happen is that the file associations will default to the new version. And the Access databases you make with Office 2000 won't be compatible. Then you can see for yourself (a) the difference in functionality (or go to second hand bookshop and buy a book on Office 2000 - cheap now!) and (b) the performance. I don't expect much difference in the daily use, to be frank, but it might contain just the thing you've been waiting for since 1997.