No matter what the job, the right tools make all the difference. Photo courtesy of Mesabi Radial Tire Co
One of my most treasured memories of time with my dad are those hours we would retreat to his workshop and he would teach me how to solder, plane, sand, cut, measure, and basically learn to fix anything that was broken or build something new. They were precious times. Few and far between, but I learned quickly that the key to good work was to have the proper tools!
So it is in Genealogy. While it would be nice to be able to do this without spending a dime, we simply cannot realistically expect to do it for absolute zero. We certainly can be careful, frugal, and downright stingy, but we will have to spend some money someplace in order to achieve our goals of finding and documenting our ancestry.
Unfortunately, none of us have one of these.
So let’s take a moment and think about how we can do it, do it right, and be very careful with the nickels, pounds, krona, loonies, and dollars.
Part of establishing a Genealogy Strategic Plan, as I outlined in early posts, is to have a solid budget. This can help us be rightly prepared for our pursuit, keep the feelings of guilt away, and make our efforts run much smoother and offer us a better chance for success.
Plan right and our efforts can be even more productive.
I support, endorse,and use the concept of ‘ZBGB’ or Zero Based Genealogy Budgeting.
In other words, when you make your budget and your plan, don’t start with what you did last year, start at zero. Nada. Zilch. Zippo!
Then make a list of all the things you spent money on for Genealogy last year when you were tracing your family and ancestors and the dollar amount you spent for each. Things like subscriptions to websites, subscriptions to magazines, memberships in Societies and Museums, travel, camera needs, printing ink and photo paper, archival supplies, storage boxes, document costs, postage, computer ISP charges, computer equipment, extras.
Now make a new list and list all the same items, but this time do it by usefulness of each item. Was your Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com, etc. crucial or nice to have? Was the travel essential or playful? Did you use that Society membership? Was that class annual or a one time event? You get the idea.
I then personally use a 1, 2, and 3 system. 1 is for least useful. 2 is middling. 3 is essential. Next, I list all my 3’s and only 1/2 the 2’s and I drop the 1’s all together. I total up the money and see where I am.
Now I bring out my Strategic Plan for the year so I can review the goals I am hoping to accomplish in the year. Lay them, literally, side-by-side. You can review the idea of getting going with a genealogy strategic plan here: http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy-strategic-plan-point-1-make-it-fun-todays-tip-for-the-real-world-genealogist.html
Almost done …. and it’s not quite this bad 🙂
Now you have your goals, your tools set in priority, and you can see which tools are the highest ranked and which you think will help you most attain your goals.
At the end, you should be comfortable that you know your budget, know your goals, and have the right tools to get the job done and done right!