How much money do you spend on genealogy?

+16 votes
Two years ago I didn't spend anything (inactive).

Last year it was $198 ( subscription)

This year I added $35 for society dues and $50 for a book: $283

I'm wondering, how much did you spend on genealogy this year, last, the past few years?
in The Tree House by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Way too much!

 Scotland's People may be free to search, but some of the results have been WAY too tantalising to not purchase.
how much?
About $100, including the two books I bought off Amazon only to realize they were free on
Way over $10,000 in Australian Currency..I've lost count..I started when I was about 20, and that's 40 years ago..... books, photos, paper, filing, researching in britain, memberships, and that doesn't take into account replacing a computer every 2 years or so..
Ancestry sub at around £140 and Findmypast premium sub at £156, so around £296 a year. That doesn't include occasional trips out to cemeteries and any other incidental costs.

27 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
$389 for Ancestry/Fold3/ I spent about $50 recently to upgrade to premium. If my husband knew, he'd probably keel over!
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (312k points)
selected by SJ Baty

On a popular watch forum I visit I always see this quote, "My biggest fear is that after I die, my wife will sell my watches for what I told her I paid for them."
+9 votes
US$249 on Dante Labs WGS

AU$139 on LivingDNA 3-in-1 special

UKP3.50 on a document

I only started this in February 2019.

Edit: Oops, I missed something. I committed to paying up to AU$100 towards my brother's auDNA test.
by Rob Judd G2G6 Mach 9 (94.0k points)
edited by Rob Judd
+10 votes
$240AU for findmypast (12 month world subscription) this is my first year.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I forgot $600+ AU for DNA tests for 2.
+14 votes
  • Subscriptiopns    $589
  • Societies.            $530
  • Education           $1745
    • Total.       $2895

No idea how much on books or travel or some of the one-off documents that have to be ordered. So more than $3000. If it weren't that there are two of us, the education would be about half and societies slightly less. This is about what we spent at least the past 4-5 years.

I haven't included the DNA stuff.

by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (418k points)




Mine's very similar to Doug's. I'm not going to add it up.
Doug - What is the "education" stuff you spend on?

I have subscriptions for, findmypast, and NEGHS. Then I probably spend maybe a couple of hundred additional per year on books or one-off document orders from English sources. Nothing on travel or seminars. Strictly an armchair genealogist currently.
We've been attending some of the Genealogy education institutes. Basically 5 days of immersion into advanced genealogy research methodologies by some of the top genealogists in the country.  They aren't cheap but we've found them to be well worth it in how much better it has made our research skills.
+15 votes
Three years ago: $0

Two years ago: some GRONI records: $50

One year ago: 2 family finder kits at FTDNA + some Scotland's People records + more GRONI records = probably $200

The last year: NEHGS membership + gift membership for relative + Y-DNA upgrade from 37 to 111 STRs + more Scotland's People records + Salem Col NJ Historical Society membership + a few books/pamphlets = maybe $400

Pending: Mayflower Society application + subscription to "The Genealogist" + YFull upload + NEHGS membership renewal + hopefully another Y-DNA test + more books, etc. + ??? = I'm guessing $700.

It appears I have a genealogy problem.
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (211k points)
+12 votes
I spend zero by using free resources such as and .

I use the same approach to books with the exception of purchasing "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover. I listened to her on TV and saw that there were many ahead of me if I requested it from the library.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
how much?
Historically, years ago, I spent a little here and there, but in the last couple of decades I have not spent much of anything on genealogy. I bought  "Map Guide to the US Federal Censuses 1790-1920." It was published in 1987. Two Mayflower books were purchased, one on Richard Warren pub 1991 and the other on Francis Cooke pub. 1987.
+11 votes

I try really, really hard to spend nothing. In the last fifteen years, I've probably spent under $200, and that's a highball estimate. 

I will go on Reddit or Facebook genealogy groups to ask for lookups if I know a record is behind a paywall. Obituaries in newspapers, for instance, is one I will ask for. 

I will go to the library in my town, and the next town over, as well as utilize the local genealogy library to help with research. This lets me access Newspapers, Fold3 and for free.

I keep extensive bookmarks and notes on free resources on the internet that I consult, even if only one time. I just recently found a great newspaper archive directly from Google News I hadn't known about before. It's not the best, but it has quite a bit, and got me some information I hadn't been able to find before. 

FamilySearch has most records that Ancestry charges for. 

Reclaim the Records has been doing a wonderful job of working to make these public records truly public for us. 

Many libraries around the United States offer guest passes, interlibrary loans, and the like to help you access their collection even from across the country. 

I use GRAMPS as my personal family tree software; it is far more powerful than any other personal program I have used (and I don't want all those imports other programs have to jack up my solid, known research). 

I was recently gifted a DNA kit from a relative, but I do intend on purchasing kits for a couple family members. 

My costs have mostly been on books I wanted printed copies of for my personal library, ordering documents, and travel costs to get somewhere. 

by Patricia Ferdig G2G6 Mach 3 (31.5k points)
Thanks for sharing! I use a lot
I use it with a hearty dose of salt. :)

I use it as a source only if there is either a headstone or plot number to go with the profile. Otherwise, the info is not reliable. It is, however, one of the places I first really got interested in online genealogy.
Wow, Reclaim the Records is a great idea.  Just last month, after reading an ancestor marriage index from the 1880s, I contacted the state to get a copy and they want $35.  I think that some of these municipalities see records as a quick track to enhanced budgets and revenues.  I could see them charging $8 to email me an already scanned document, but $35?  Highway robbery.  I read what Reclaim the Records does and I am bookmarking it and am now a supporter of that initiative.
I hate to see that much charged for record access. As you stated, I understand the cost of labor to email me an already scanned document, but the price gouging is just that. Additionally, excessively charging for these records goes against the idea that they are public records. I'm glad you're supporting them. They are a great bunch of characters. hahaha
+11 votes
Hello SJ, Thank you for asking. Apart from DNA testing, I try not to spend much money on genealogy but I am prepared to spend some money if I can get answers to questions I cannot answer any other way. We have a number of "road blocks" and "dead ends" that I would like to break through to get answers but until I have exhausted free or inexpensive alternatives, I need to conserve $$ being retired and on fixed income.
by Marion Ceruti G2G6 Pilot (118k points)
Marion, thank you for replying!  I understand stretching a buck!  One of the things I love about WikiTree is that folks needing records can ask and those with memberships can do record pulls and share.
+12 votes
$0.00  I started out with and one thing led to another.  I spent time at the local library using their website which did not cost anything.  I found other sites the were helpful but not always accurate so there were a few times I had to take a few steps back but i've gotten pretty far.  New to this site so I have a bit of work to do to get my page updated.
by Annette Flanders G2G Crew (560 points)
+12 votes
Nothing the past few years. But in 2004, I took a long trip around the Midwest, visiting various courthouses, cemeteries, historical societies, and libraries. I met a few distant cousins as well. That certainly cost over $1000! But I found choice information I wouldn't have found any other way. (For example, I found a store ledger in a moldy stack of old books with an ancestor's account, so I knew what they were eating in the 19th century and how bad they were about paying the bill! How else would you find out such a thing?)
by W Counsil G2G6 Mach 2 (23.0k points)
Love this.
That's great!  I'd love to find something like this for my ancestors.
+11 votes
$0.  Family Search, Find-a-Grave, internet searches and the National Archives are all free.  I do hope to take a few small day trips in the coming year, but nothing extensive.
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (260k points)

"If its free, its for me!" wink

+11 votes

Currently my main expenses are memberships in the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYGBS) and a US-only subscription to I don't like to add up the dollars. The NYGBS membership includes subscription access to some content on findmypast (because that's where the society's electronic resources are housed). The majority of my use of these resources is for WikiTree and "other people's genealogy."

I also make donations to NEHGS and the Internet Archive to help support the research resources they provide.

And I make sure that my computing devices and software have the capabilities I need for my genealogy habit. yes

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
How many years have you been a NEHGS member?  I want to join about a dozen societies but I really need to be choosy lest I blow the budget!
SJ, we've been members for more than a decade. You do get access to their databases as well as to access to researchers.  If you have New England ancestry it is well worth it. The NEHGS library in Boston is a great place to do research. We go when we go back to visit my family (not as often as I would like) and can usually spend a couple of full days there.

Picking the best one depends on what you are looking for NEHGS has a great journal and wonderful research resources.
I believe I've been in NEHGS for going on 4 years. For me, it's the single best value in genealogy. It's an unparalleled resource for New England, with some valuable resources for other places and topics (including some great sources for New Netherland). One thing I love is that on the rare occasions when I find and report an error on the website, they fix it that day or the next business and send me a quick note of acknowledgment. And I've spent only one day at their library, but if I lived closer to Boston, I'd be there often.

If you aren't researching New England, you might not find it quite as valuable as I do.
+7 votes
To date, I've been able to trace my ancestors back to the early 1700s and I've only spent the equivalent of US$3.30 on a Royal Navy record for my great grandfather, which I purchased from the National Archives. I will soon be buying an AncestryDNA kit, but as I currently don't have the money saved up for that it hasn't happened yet. Even with the kit, I would have spent a maximum of about $150 (as the Australian price of the kit excludes the shipping to New Zealand, so I've rounded it up).
by Amelia Utting G2G6 Pilot (185k points)

That's probably less then .01 cents per ancestor cheeky

It’s not the postage to NZ that’s the killer if postage from Aus is anything to go by ($33 each)
+7 votes
$100 for my DNA test last year, (My mother got her DNA test for free),

$20 for my Devon FHS membership (online only - the cheapest),

Between $100 and $200 for Census and parish records on CD-ROM from the Devon FHS society

$200 for various books about genealogy from Kobo Books - including some Elizabeth Shown books and the book - Finding Family by Richard Hill - he was an adoptee who ended up being one of the very first people to use DNA to find his family!!!! This was in the 1990s and early 2000s I think.

As of right now I am using a free Premium Plus membership at My Heritage - which I won during the source-a-thon last year - but when that expires I will have to go back to the free account...

So I am busy making the family tree on My Heritage as big as possible and getting as much usage and as many matches out of this MyHeritage membership as possible, before it all disappears. I have about 6 months left....

So maybe altogether - around $520 in the last 12 months - but these amounts are spread over several months.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (898k points)
I hope your MyHeritage family tree is not just online, but also in their offline FamilyTreeBuilder software. You can keep that forever...
I tried that but it doesn't work. It went into the x86 folder which is a 32 bit processer.

My PC has a 64 bit processor so i think that this Family Tree Builder software is kind of out of date now.
Also once the tree is online, it will stay online in the My Heritage database. I just won't be able to add to it or edit it in anyway - until the day I can afford to buy a subscription.
When I quit MyHeritage, I think my online tree went away.
+7 votes
Not a single dime.
by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (234k points)
+9 votes
Absolutely nothing.
by Diane Gurske G2G6 (8.4k points)
+6 votes
A half year of Ancestry and two society memberships = about $200. Books = about $100.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
+7 votes
It's my hobby. Spend a lot on travel (petrol, lodgings etc) but we have fun as well. Ancestry subscription. I have bought certificates for close family members but most of that was before so much was available online. Books, books, books (mostly History not Genealogy). Before the PC arrived I spent a lot on paper. Can't estimate how much over more than 50 years. Less than one might spend on golf or fishing, needlework, bingo, patchwork or cake making.
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (264k points)
Value is certainly subjective; I drink coffee at home and cringe at the thought of a $2 cup of Joe.  We seem to have the full gamut of budgets for genealogy here but you're right, less than most spend on golfing, motorized sport vehicles, and yes, Bingo!
+9 votes
Whatever it takes.
by Bart Triesch G2G6 Pilot (252k points)
+7 votes
More than I probably should.

Biggest expenses: records and website subscriptions.
by Ryan Ross G2G6 Mach 2 (27.9k points)

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