What Is Your Genealogy Budget?

Here is a question for the hardcore amateur genealogists out there. How much are you spending to support your genealogy research?

My wife and I have just transitioned to a fixed income, which means that we should be budgeting our discretionary expenditures. Genealogy can get expensive quickly and impulsively. I was just thinking about working on the World Family Tree on Geni. I had read that some Jewish genealogists prefer it over other search services. I am not sure why, although that would be a different article.

  • Desktop genealogy software : Roots Magic – $30 for the current major release.
  • DNA kits. I tested with 23andMe last year. This year I tested with Ancestry DNA, on sale for $80. I also ordered a Y-67 kit from FamilyTreeDNA. That puppy was $271. I won’t count the cost of kits I’ve purchased for family members, but there have been a few, and I’m thinking of buying kits for more relatives.
  • Online services.
    • I am at the end of promotional price from Ancestry that included access to all Ancestry databases and bottom-tier access to Fold3 and Newspapers.COM. I don’t find those two services very useful, so Ancestry will only cost me $149 semi-annually.
    • Supporting GEDMatch at $10/month for Tier 1 tools access
    • Paying DNAGedcom $5/month for use of the DNA downloader client

Meanwhile, when I uploaded my kit to Family Tree DNA there was a one-tie $19 charge for access to their tools. That’s not too bad. I uploaded my kit and GEDCOM to MyHeritage and there are prompts everywhere to subscribe to their tree hosting service, ranging from $7 to $15 per month and also their data searching subscription service. Their promotional price would be $175 for the first year and $250 per year thereafter. That’s less than Ancestry, but still a lot. And then there is Geni, which is free, but you can’t do much without their Premium service, which is another $119 per year. What I can’t figure out is where the cost split is between tree hosting services, and being allowed to search and match existing trees.

Now, I realize that there is a price to everything these days unless it is volunteer driven. Servers cost money; storage costs money; Systems administrators to wrangle all those servers and storage costs. Software developers are not cheap. Staff to locate, acquire the rights to, image, transcribe, and index images all cost money, and I don’t begrudge the companies a little profit to keep them interested in expanding their services. It just seems like we (the genealogists) are doing a lot of work aggregating the data, submitting corrections, uploading and arranging photographs, etc. and inviting our friends and families to their sites. Perhaps we should be given some kind of discount based on the size of our family tree, or the number of people we invite.

I think that the ultimate answer will be to generate a genealogy website and host it myself. I realize that this is not an undertaking that your average genealogist can or would want to do. However, I have the skills and web hosting capacity to spare.

The other answer is going to be to contribute to a World Family Tree that purports to stay free in perpetuity. That will probably be WikiTree. I can update FamilySearch semi-automatically from RootsMagic. However, if I’m going to go to the trouble of typing in or editing all the details from my family tree, I would like it to be usable by people without having to purchase a subscription.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.