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Avoid Common Lineage Society Mistakes: Plan for How You Spend Your Money

Almost no one goes in with a good understanding of the cost of the lineage society application process. That confusion leads people to one of two extremes. Either they assume the process should be free or they spend far too much money buying records they don’t necessarily need. Planning ahead can help you spend your money effectively.

  1. Know from the beginning the process isn’t going to be free. Even if your family saves everything, you’ll have the application review fee (which can be anywhere from $15-$500). Most families don’t keep copies of vital records in the house. Those run around $20 and can be more.
  2. Use the path of least resistance. If your goal is membership and not documenting a specific ancestor, use the easiest to document line. Some societies will allow you to reference paperwork already on file. If you have industrious cousins, that may mean you need to document only three to four generations instead of eight or more.
  3. Don’t order certified copies unless necessary. Sometimes you’ll have to no option but to order the certified copies – especially for recent births, deaths, and marriages. Many older records are available without charge somewhere online. (FamilySearch is a great resource for this.) Save the money.
  4. Know when you’re stuck. Yes, hiring help can get expensive. But your money and your time both have costs. If you’re having a hard time proving a line, ask for help before you spend any more money. Often we get “tunnel vision” when trying to do an application and can end up spending time and money on a line that doesn’t work, while an easily provable line still is awaiting research.