Over at Creative Gene, Jasia has recently posted several articles asking What is your Genealogy Worth to You? Her articles have covered the costs associated with: DNA testing, doing it yourself versus hiring some one to do your research, recording your genealogy, and sharing with others (the link above will take you to a category displaying all of those posts).
In response, Randy Seaver asks Can You Put a Price on Your Family History? and John Newmark at Transylvania Dutch also has a post on the Cost of Genealogy. Both Randy and Jasia have been researching for 10 years or more while John is a relative newbie. They all provide food for thought.
I'd certainly hate to have to put a price tag on my genealogy and family history research! I've been at it for a little more than 20 years, some years more than others, some years not at all. But still, a lot of time and energy has been expended as well as a considerable amount of money for seminars, books, conferences, documents, copies, supplies, travel, publishing, etc., etc.
As a hobby or pastime (i.e., something done to pass the time), I'd have to venture a guess that genealogy research probably isn't really any more expensive than many other hobbies. It all depends upon how much you want to put into it. In junior-high and high school I was into stamp collecting and for a number of years, later in life, I was into doll making (clothespin dolls, soft sculpture, Raggedy Ann and Andy) and going to craft shows. Time consuming, expensive, enjoyable.
In my opinion, the COST of genealogy research, or any other pastime/hobby, does not determine its value or worth. The WORTH of any endeavor can only be determined by the person involved. There are intrinsic benefits derived from nearly every hobby or pastime, otherwise why would we do it?
With stamp collecting it was the joy of spending some time by myself, of learning about the countries where the stamps came from, of organizing them and putting them into their proper place in an album. With doll making, it was seeing the joy on the face of a child (or an adult) playing with the dolls on display. The feeling of having created something that someone else could enjoy and would enjoy for many years. With genealogy it is the feeling of accomplishment when a new ancestor is found, finding another piece of the never-ending puzzle, making a connection with a new cousin, opportunities to meet new friends, to be able to share failures as well as successes, and ultimately to discover more about myself and perhaps figure out why I am the way I am.
I guess, after all that babbling, what I'm really trying to say is that, for me, the worth of genealogy research really has nothing to do with its cost. In a word, it's priceless.