The above picture represents what many of us put into our genealogy research, time, and money. I believe that if we wish to have a complete as possible family history, then we will have to utilize both of these resources. How much we use them depends on how much we have of these items to give in this pursuit, or in many cases how much we are willing to give.
Time is perhaps the more important of the two. If you are not willing to spend time in the hunt for our family history, then take up another pastime. Unless you have an unlimited amount of money to pay people to do the work for you, then spending time is something you cannot avoid. On occasion, I help people (free of charge) in their genealogy research. I met one gentleman at a local library with a subscription to Ancestry.com for its’ patrons to use. After spending some time with him learning about his family and what he was looking for, we logged on Ancestry.com to look up some records. Within 15 minutes, we had found many new records and new information. Using what we had learned, we found some more records that had several hundred possible finds for him. I showed him how and what to look for. I was then going to work on my research while he did that. About ten minutes later, I looked up, and he had not even started. I asked him if he had any questions. He told me that there were too many records to look through and wanted me to do it for him. I explained at most he had only an hour’s work and perhaps only five minutes if he got lucky. A few minutes later, he was packing up his stuff, saying he did not have time to “Look through all those records.” Also, he was upset that I would not do it for him. He just was not willing to spend the time and make an effort. I wish I could say this is my only example. Time is something we all spend while doing genealogy. Perhaps that means giving up our television watching, spending less time with our other hobbies, or just becoming better organized in our time management. As you will see, even when we spend money, it necessitates the spending of time.
Now let’s talk about money. I have heard many times that there are many avenues in which you can do your genealogy research without spending money. While this is correct, the fact of the matter is that your finished result, which is your family history, is only as good as what you put into it. I am not saying that you have to throw money into an endless pit, but the wise expenditure of your money (and time) will give you much better results. We have so many subscription sites that offer so many services and records that everyone should at one time or another take advantage of them. If you are not sure which one to use most of them offer a free trial period for you to explore them. One area I have spent money on is the online newspaper repository sites. Everyone should look into this resource in their genealogy work. I have discovered so much more about my family by doing this that I rank them as important as the census, and DNA. But if you only spend money on the for-profit subscription sites, you miss out on so many other genealogy tools. Other areas that money could be well spent on are equipment, education, travel, genealogy magazines, historical society memberships, and much more. It also goes without saying that for each expenditure of money we make, time must be used to make it worthwhile.
I understand budgets and all those daily expenditures that we all must face. I have been working on my family’s genealogy for years, and many times I had to put off spending money on genealogy for more essential items. But I have had conversations with too many people who proudly state “I’ve never spent a dime on my genealogy” and after looking over their work I would have to agree with them. In the end, we all decide what we want to spend our money and time on. For me, my genealogy research has been enjoyable and very educational. But the very first piece advice I give anyone who wants to do their family genealogy is that “genealogy is a long term commitment.”