When we purchased our latest home desktop from Dell, I indeed forked over the cash for Office. I use that suite of programs like no other (especially Excel), and I had no problem lining Microsoft's coffers a little more.
These days, though, the web world has expanded, and if you know where to look, you can find free alternatives to pretty much everything Office. That's the focus of the following MSNBC article, dated December 23:
MSNBC: "Surviving on Free Web-Based Services Alone"
Of the programs mentioned, I've only ever tried OpenOffice. I found it to be an excellent alternative to Office, but my usage focused mostly on Calc (its Excel lookalike), and not so much on the other components. I recommend it heartily to anyone who wants to implement spreadsheets and such into their financial lives — but who might not want to spend the coin to acquire Office.
Excel is my personal number-crunching monster, and I'm not giving it up. But for everyone else, it's tough to beat FREE, and OpenOffice is certainly that.