In my last post, I talked a little bit about competition. Before getting back to that subject, I thought it would be a good idea to get some perspective on the cost of an enthusiastic genealogy involvement compared to some other pursuits. First, some comparisons with other activities you might be involved with individually or as a family.
What about that great American pastime, golf? A set of clubs can cost upwards of $2000 or more (although used garage-sale sets are probably a lot less). Golf balls run up to $60 a dozen, but again used or cheap balls can also be considerably less. Its not the equipment that gets to you in golf, its the green fees. The Salt River Valley is a haven for golf and green fees at a public golf course can run much over $100 (one round) in the months when the temperature isn't over 100 degrees). So realistically, an Ancestry.com subscription is around three rounds of golf.
Water skiing is big in Valley. A ski boat can run over $100 an hour to rent. So three hours of ski boat rental is more than the cost of Ancestry.com. If you want to buy a boat, the sky is the limit on the purchase price but there are also many other expenses that you will need to consider before purchasing your boat such as depreciation, maintenance, storage, gas, insurance, towing, registration, taxes, launch fees and accessories. You could probably have a subscription to every large online database in the world for years before you spent the cost of buying a ski boat.
Horses anyone? Bass fishing? I guess my point is that there are a lot of popular pastimes out there in the world and genealogy, even with conventions and online databases, is way down in the cost category. So when we talk about competition in the genealogy community, we are really talking about economic small potatoes. Genealogy software is really inexpensive compared to many main-line production programs like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office. Genealogy is time intensive, but won't break the bank even if you count part of the cost of a computer system.
But one factor is important, the demographics. Genealogists are older and more likely to live on a fixed income. They are not usually the same people buying ski boats and ATVs. But all in all, genealogy is not one of the more expensive activities, unless you count the time commitment. If time is money, then genealogy takes the cake. You can only play so much golf, but you can do genealogy all day long, every day.