Money doesn’t grow on trees, which is too bad, because it would make researching your family tree a lot easier.
If you aren’t careful, or even if you are, you could end up spending a small fortune while researching your family history.
Just ask Lana Rushing, who owns a public relations firm in Los Angeles. In the spring of 2014, she was on a vacation in Ireland and stopped by the library in Dublin, hoping to learn more about her mother’s side of her family tree. She came away inspired to learn more, soon after subscribing to a genealogy website, getting her DNA tested and traveling in order to search for clues about her past. It’s a hobby that can get costly.
“All told, I have spent about $4,800 so far, but it has been worth every penny,” says Rushing, who isn’t including in her tally the cost of that vacation to Ireland.
Most people who spend money researching their family probably do feel that the expense is worth it. After all, looking at genealogy isn’t something one has to do, like paying for car repairs. People do it because they want to. Still, if you’re looking for ways to research your family tree and want to know what you’re in for, or if you want to spend more money in order to dig up more roots, you have a number of things you can spend money on.
Ancestry.com is likely the best-known of these sites; an annual subscription starts at $189 ($99 for six months). For the money, you’ll receive access to a seemingly limitless amount of historical data, including census and military records as well as birth, marriage and death certificates.
But there are other genealogy sites you may want to check out, such as FamilySearch.org (which is free and a good place to start), FindMyPast.com (starts at $9.95 a month; aimed at people with British and Irish heritage) and Afrigeneas.com (free, and for people researching African-American roots).
You can also use genealogy services without paying for them.
“Most public and state libraries subscribe to one or more genealogy services. These are available [online] at no cost to anyone with a library card, though Ancestry’s library collection can only be accessed from the library [building],” says Stacy Harris, a publisher and editor in Nashville, Tennessee.
Genealogy DNA testing services.
You know you are part Native American, Pakistani or Italian but are wondering, just how much? You could use companies like MyHeritage DNA, Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Their prices generally range from $79 to $199, with sales sometimes popping up throughout the year.
That can get expensive, though, if you and a spouse or other family members are interested in your ancestry. For instance, over the holidays, Dana Freeman, a travel journalist in Burlington, Vermont, bought DNA kits for herself, her husband, her sister and brother-in-law for a total of $260.
She also purchased a six-month membership to Ancestry.com and is contemplating becoming a paid member to other ancestry websites and doing some travel-related research. She says that she has been interested in genealogy for some time, collecting information from relatives and keeping track of it in a hand-written family tree book she bought 20 years ago for nine bucks. Only recently did she begin spending money to learn more about her past.
“I fear though going forward this endeavor is going to be a lot more expensive,” Freeman says.
Read on . . .