Over the last decade, fans of 19 Kids & Counting and the spinoff Counting On have watched the Duggar family — Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19 kids — make millions. But at the same time, many viewers are confused about what they do for a living. It doesn’t look like anyone has an actual job, but the family lives in a 7,000 square foot house, owns multiple automobiles and planes, and travels all over the world.
The same can be said for the adult children and their spouses. For people who live their lives on television, the truth is murky when it comes to how most of them support their families. Plus, because of their strict religious beliefs, the women in the family do not work outside of the home. They encourage the girls to marry young and to take on the traditional role of stay-at-home mom. But even Jana – the only single adult female in the family – doesn’t have any kind of career. Instead, she has a few hobbies to keep her busy, and she also takes care of her younger siblings, making her a mom by proxy.
So how do they manage to have such a high net worth? It turns out to be a combination of multiple income streams and structured spending habits. This is how the Duggars make their millions.
Real estate and house flipping is a big part of the Duggar financial portfolio. Many of the older Duggar kids – including Jason and Joy-Anna (along with her husband Austin Forsyth) – make money by buying fixer-uppers.
Last year, Jim Bob helped Jason buy his first home at the age of 16. He spent $33,000 for the 3-bedroom, 2-bath house in Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
Austin fit right in with the Duggar family when he married Joy-Anna. He was flipping houses before the couple tied the knot, and now they often work on projects together.
“House projects are really good for couples to do together,” explained the 20-year-old.
Buying Up Tontitown
Jim Bob has had a successful career in real estate, which has been a family business for five generations. But some say that purchasing property is an obsession for the family patriarch.
He started in commercial real estate by turning a 37,000 square foot chicken hatchery into a rental property with ten units. He has gone on to buy property all over the state of Arkansas, including in his hometown of Tontitown, but some of his neighbors aren’t thrilled.
Recently, he applied to rezone 23 acres of land as the first step towards creating an upscale RV park. But, some oppose it because they believe Jim Bob is constantly side-stepping local ordinances, and they don’t want him buying up the whole town.
Over the years, the Duggar family has released several books including A Love That Multiplies and The Duggars: 20 and Counting – both written by Jim Bob and Michelle – and Growing Up Duggar written by the four oldest daughters Jill, Jessa, Jana, and Jinger. In each book, they give people an inside look into their daily lives and the principles Jim Bob and Michelle have taught their children.
Most of the Amazon reviews are five stars, so the fans must really love reading what they have to say.
“Here’s the bottom line: The relationship a girl has with her dad often influences how she will relate to boys. Girls want to believe their dads love them and will protect them. When they don’t feel that, they often go searching for those things from guys. This can lead to unwise decisions, which in turn bring a host of consequences and painful memories,” wrote Jill in Growing Up Duggar.
Jim Bob and Michelle sometimes hold seminars or give speeches about marriage and parenting, and they charge a minimum fee of approximately $15,000 for each event. However, that is down significantly from their rate a few years back. In 2015, during the last season of 19 Kids & Counting, they earned $25,000 per appearance.
However, that is still a big discount compared to fellow reality stars Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper who also make money from speaking engagements. They charge the steep price of $30,000.
Some of the kids also give speeches, too, including Jana, Jessa, and Jill.
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You know you’re a mom when…you walk 1hr. 10 min with both boys to get to a @chickfila 🐔 We were enjoying some beautiful Colorado Springs weather while papa was busy with the rest of the team from church! ☀️ #chickfilaplayground #longwalk #ThankTheLordWeDidntHaveToWalkBack 😂
The Duggar kids can’t have social media accounts until they get married — except for some reason Josiah Duggar. But once they get online, they use their star power to make money. Just like the Kardashians, the Duggars have become part of the social media influencer marketing landscape.
They have endorsed many different businesses and products on Instagram, including Chick-Fil-A, Promised Land Milk, and IHOP, and the posts often include pics of the little kids posing with desserts and boxes of chicken.
But it’s not all about food. Jessa has also sung the praises of Old Navy. She seems to be in love with their swing dresses, which makes sense because they are loose-fitting and hit at the knee.
TLC Paid For the Duggar Compound
When we first met the Duggars back in 2004 in the special 14 Kids & Pregnant Again, the family lived in a tiny three-bedroom house next to their church. Because they needed more space, Jim Bob bought a large lot to build a house on, and he said on the show that he and his two oldest boys – Josh and John David – built the house themselves with the help of a single contractor. He also claimed that they paid for everything with their income from rental properties.
But an anonymous commenter known as “Alice” – who revealed the Josh molestation scandal seven years before In Touch Weekly broke the story – claims that TLC gave the Duggars $200,000 to build their house, and they didn’t pay for anything in it except for the kitchen.
They did buy the lot on their own and had started construction before TLC cameras arrived. But “Alice” says it was behind schedule and not up to code. And, in their special On the Road with 16 Children, the voiceover said that “TLC helped with the finishing touches.”
The biggest income stream for the Duggar family is obviously their money from TLC. For over a decade they have appeared in their own reality shows, and they reportedly earn anywhere between $25,000 to $40,000 each episode.
The family shot 229 episodes of 19 Kids & Counting. And so far, they have shot 53 episodes of Counting On. If you do the math, that means they have potentially earned over $11 million as reality TV stars.
As a result of their multiple income streams, financial planning, lack of debt, and spending habits, Jim Bob and Michelle have built a net worth of about $3.5 million. And they did it all while raising 19 kids.
The Duggar family will return with new episodes of Counting On in 2019.