top of page

How Do You Know It's Time to Spend Money to Break Down a Brick Wall?

As genealogy enthusiasts, we're often faced with the dilemma of when to open our wallets in pursuit of elusive records or professional assistance. While the abundance of free resources is a boon to our research, there comes a time when investing money becomes necessary to break through brick walls and uncover hidden family mysteries.

Fortunately, there are some key indicators that signal it's time to consider spending money on genealogy. To decide whether you should make a financial investment, you’ll need to weigh the value of what you need. Whether you need to order difficult-to-access records or consider the benefits of hiring a professional, here are some tips to help navigate the financial landscape of genealogical research.

Assessing Record Accessibility

One of the first considerations when contemplating spending money on genealogy is the accessibility of records. While many records are freely available online or through local archives, some elusive or specialized documents may require payment. Evaluate the significance of the record in relation to your research goals and research plan. Is it likely to be a vital piece of evidence that could break through a longstanding brick wall? If the record meets the below criteria and ordering it aligns with your research priorities, it may be worth investing in. Consider the following factors.

-Uniqueness: Is the record rare or uncommon? Could it offer insights not found elsewhere?

-Relevance: Does the record directly pertain to or relate to your research question? Is it likely to fill gaps in your family tree? Does it provide (or is it likely to provide) crucial details about ancestors?

-Importance: Is it likely that obtaining the record will significantly advance your research? Is it possible that it will lead to new discoveries or clarifications of existing information?

Weighing the Cost-Benefit Ratio

Before committing to purchasing a genealogical record, it's essential to assess the cost-benefit ratio. By carefully weighing these factors, you can determine whether the benefits outweigh the costs and make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase. Consider the financial investment required to obtain the record versus the potential value it will add to your research. Ask yourself:

-Cost: How much does the record cost? Are there lookup fees? Copying/scanning or mailing fees? Is it within your budget?

-Benefit: What insights or information will the record provide? How does it contribute to achieving your research goals? Write this out so that you slow down and consider everything and know that it can (or can’t) benefit you.

-Alternatives: Are there cheaper or free alternatives to accessing similar information? It may be that you can find the same info another way tthat will take more time and effort. Consider whether it’s worth it to you to spend the money to get the costly record quickly OR to spend the extra time and effort to get the cheaper alternative information.

Evaluating Professional Assistance

In some cases, the complexity of genealogical research may warrant seeking professional assistance. While many enthusiasts prefer to conduct their research independently, there are instances where hiring a professional genealogist can yield significant benefits. If you find yourself facing these challenges and reaching a stalemate in your research, it may be worthwhile to invest in the services of a professional genealogist to help overcome obstacles and unlock new avenues of exploration. Consider the following scenarios:
-Complex Research Problems: If you've encountered a particularly challenging research problem or brick wall that has stumped you despite extensive efforts, consulting a professional may provide fresh perspectives and specialized expertise. You can ask the professional to research for you OR you can find someone to review your work and make suggestions for further research or different strategies.

-Time Constraints: If you're juggling multiple responsibilities and struggling to find the time to dedicate to your genealogical research, hiring a professional can help expedite the process and alleviate the burden. Sometimes it is worth it to me to spend the money when I do not have the time to do it. (Sometimes it isn’t.)

-Access to Specialized Records: Professional genealogists often have access to exclusive databases, repositories, and research tools that may not be readily available to the general public, enhancing the scope and depth of your research. Professionals have to subscribed to several costly databases. So if you need access to those to conduct research, consider whether you want to subscribe and THEN do the work yourself or save the subscription money and put it towards the professional who knows how to do the searches quickly.

Leveraging Collaborative Resources

In addition to considering individual purchases or hiring professionals, genealogy enthusiasts can leverage collaborative resources to maximize their research efforts while minimizing costs. By finding ways to collaborate, you can expand your research capabilities and access valuable records and information without necessarily spending money or much money. Explore the following avenues:

-Genealogy Societies and Groups: Join local or online genealogy societies. These may cost a little (or maybe nothing). They are worth the investment if you are able to find others who are working on the same family or who know how to find records in the area and time frame you need. You can help each other and everyone benefits.

-Genealogy forums or online groups: Connect with fellow enthusiasts, share resources, and exchange research tips and strategies through online clubs or Facebook groups. Collaborating with others can help broaden your research network and access valuable insights and expertise. Often times, a genealogy Facebook group can offer many suggestions for further research and allow you to learn from the depth of experience of the group.

In the pursuit of genealogical research, knowing when to spend money is a balancing act that requires careful consideration of various factors, including record accessibility, cost-benefit ratios, and the potential benefits of professional assistance. By assessing the significance of records, weighing the costs and benefits, and leveraging collaborative resources, genealogy enthusiasts can make informed decisions that advance their research goals while managing their budgets effectively. Remember, every investment in genealogy is an investment in preserving and uncovering the rich tapestry of our family histories. It’s money and time well spent.


Want a genealogy research tool that won't break the bank but will get you ORGANIZED and FOCUSED? The proprietary Brick Wall Buster Cards is your answer! Try it today at


bottom of page