It was easier to install the M12000 on my '97 w/ the ARB off plus I used an engine hoist to make reinstallation easier. On my wife's LX I was able to install an XD9000 w/o removing the bumper. My wife had to help start the bolts while I held the winch up though.
My stock suspension dropped 1/2 inch after installing the ARB off my parts truck.
I felt naked driving without it so on she went. I'm in the same boat with only so much
spare change the winch is on the bottom of the list, new springs next.
Go for it, the ARB is super easy to take off and put on. I think it only took about 15-20
minutes by myself. Good luck!! Steve