How The Duggars Really Pay For Everything

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Considering Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are parents to 19 kids, one would think that they'd have some financial struggles. Being a parent is expensive, to say the least, especially when you have nearly 20 mouths to feed. But somehow, the Duggars manage to make things work exceptionally well — a phenomenon that many people have questions about. From the 19 Kids and Counting fam's vacations around the globe to their hoard of private planes, Jim Bob and Michelle are definitely doing something right when it comes to their finances. So, how do the lights stay on at château Duggar? As it turns out, a lot of factors are involved in their financial success. 

Although some people might find some of Jim Bob and Michelle's tactics suspicious, others will be impressed by their ingenuity. No matter what you might think about the Duggars' money situation, however, there's no denying that their financial predicament is interesting. That being said, here's the truth about how the Duggars pay for everything.

The Duggars are in high demand

Whether you agree with the Duggar family's conservative views or not, there's no denying they have a huge fan base who are willing to pay top dollar to hear Jim Bob and Michelle speak on a variety of issues. From marriage advice (the pair have been married for more than three decades, people) to raising a faith-based family, the Duggars are often booked by churches or other venues for highly attended speaking events

So, how much do Jim Bob and Michelle charge for a typical public appearance? Event organizers can expect to shell out between $7,500 to $14,999 for the couple, according to Celebrity Talent International. Not a bad chunk of change, right? Oh, and if you're wondering if the couple pays for their own travel expenses to these events, the answer is probably no. Take the Duggar family's January 2018 appearance at Kilsyth South Baptist Church in Australia, for example. It's highly unlikely Jim Bob and Michelle laid out the money to haul their many kids across continents — those types of expenses are typically comped for celebrities. And yes, many people view the Duggars as celebs (especially in conservative circles). 

Their story is worth a pretty penny

Many celebrities become authors to score some extra cash, and the Duggars are no exception to this phenomenon. Case in point: The Duggars have written three books since they first became famous in 2008 via 19 Kids & Counting. Jim Bob and Michelle, for instance, have two books under their belts, A Love That Multiplies and The Duggars: 20 and Counting. Additionally, Jessa, Jill, Jana, and Jinger Duggar penned a book about their conservative upbringing titled, Growing Up Duggar. Although it's not exactly clear how much money the family has earned from their book sales, it's worth noting Growing Up Duggar earned a spot on The New York Times' Best-Seller List under the Advice, How-To, and Miscellaneous category. Not to mention, the family has been published by Simon & Schuster — one of the most prestigious publishing houses in America. Publishing houses at Simon & Schuster's level tend to offer their writers a book advance of about $30,000 on average, according to The New York Times.

Fans shell out cash to support the Duggars

Throughout the years, the Duggars have experimented with online fundraisers to support their careers and personal endeavors. The biggest culprit of this trend is Derick Dillard, Jill's husband. Dillard, who quit his job as an accountant at Walmart in June 2015, often resorts to GoFundMe to pay for his missionary work in international destinations. And as, at the time of this writing, Dillard doesn't have a discernible job, he's been relying on GoFundMe more than ever. 

"BIG NEWS! I am currently serving through a program at my home church, called the Cross Church School of Ministry," Dillard wrote on his GoFundMe page in November 2017. "I am so excited about this incredible opportunity for further ministry development, and I would like to invite you to share in this excitement with me. ... I have a donations goal of $10,000. This will enable me to fulfill my specific calling to ministry this year, including trips for Gospel-advancement and humanitarian work in Northwest Arkansas, North America, and abroad." 

Although Dillard reached his fundraising goal, not many people were happy with his efforts. "Here we go again with asking people for money. I thought it is Derick's responsibility to provide for their family," a fan said about one of Dillard's previous fundraisers, according to Radar Online. "Neither one has employment and it's getting ridiculous." Ouch.

They buy everything used

One of the Duggar family's claims to fame is that they buy everything used. Obviously, this saves the family a lot of money. Can you imagine what Jim Bob and Michelle's bank accounts might look like if they purchased everything new? It's a safe bet the family would be out on the streets if they didn't invest in hand-me-downs. So, what does the family buy used? Well, just about everything — including their cars. 

"We've never bought a new vehicle. We've always bought used vehicles," Jim Bob explained, according to Parenting. "We buy them at an auction, wholesale. We can drive them for several years and turn around and get our money back out of them." Sounds pretty savvy, right? 

As for Michelle, she's as equally into the whole buying used thing as Jim Bob is. "We get our clothes at thrift shops. You can find really nice name-brand stuff," Michelle said, according to Parenting. "Our girls love it. They will find tons of stuff." It's true that the family often frequents thrift shops — in fact, there are tons of 19 Kids & Counting episodes to prove it. 

They host flea markets and garage sales

When you have 19 kids, old clothes and unwanted items can pile up quickly. A great solution to all the clutter, however, is hosting garage sales and flea markets to get some cash for all of your junk. Of course, the Duggar family can't host your average garage sale with a few folding tables and some piles of clothes. Nope, not a chance. When the Duggars do a garage sale, they transform their property into a miniature carnival and they charge their neighbors admission to join in on the fun. 

Don't believe us? Look no further than the family's November 2013 Duggar flea market which boasted bake sales, a dunking booth, and a ton of used items. Incredibly, the family earned $2,091 just two hours into the huge event, as documented by TLC. But throwing a garage sale isn't just about money for the Duggars — they enjoy getting rid of stuff to stay organized. 

"De-cluttering is really important. For starters, I always tell the kids that if stuff comes in the house, we have to take other stuff out," Michelle told TLC. "We give things to friends that can use them or sell them at a yard sale. There's just not enough space for everything." Yep, this sounds like a win-win situation to us.

They might be social media influencers

If you follow the Duggar family's social media accounts, you might have noticed that they often give shout-outs to various restaurants and fast food chains. More often than not, the fam takes to Instagram to mention their dining experiences at Chick-fil-A — a popular fast food restaurant. From dressing up like the chain's mascot (it's a cow) to uploading shots of Chick-fil-A's food, it's clear the Duggars are big fans of this restaurant. 

One has to wonder, however, if their love for the restaurant and other chains they promote is partially motivated by cold hard cash. Some people suspect that the family has partnered with these establishments, which means that they might get a financial kickback each time they mention a partnership on the 'gram. If this theory is true, it's possible that the family rakes in thousands of dollars per sponsored ad. Of course, it's totally possible that the Duggars simply love Chick-fil-A and that they enjoy singing its praises on social media. You never know.

Side jobs for days

Although it might be surprising to some people, the Duggars have a lot of side jobs. In fact, almost every member of the family has a gig outside of reality television. Take John-David Duggar, for instance. John-David, to his credit, dabbles in construction work and he's a Washington County constable (a constable is a peace officer of a small town). Additionally, John-David also has his pilot's license, which means he can charge a fee to fly people around the United States. 

John-David's younger sister, Jill Duggar, also has her own career. For years, Jill has worked as a mid-wife to clients in the Arkansas area — a gig she often discussed on Counting On. And now that Jill is no longer a part of the series, many people assume she'll resume her midwife work to support her family. 

As for Jim Bob and Michelle's sons-in-law, Austin Forsyth might be the family member with the most lucrative side gig. Austin and his dad, Terry Forsyth, co-run a house-flipping business, and they're always on the go.

Jim Bob's wise investments

Many people don't know that Jim Bob is very savvy where it concerns real estate investments. In fact, Jim Bob makes a lot of dough investing in real estate across Arkansas, a gig he got involved in after he sold his towing business. And after Jim Bob bought his first property for $65,000, he quickly learned just how profitable the real estate business could be. 

"Just thirty days after purchasing the property, a real estate agent brought Jim Bob and Michelle a client who was willing to rent the property for $1,200 a month," a family friend shared, according to The Duggar Family Blog. "The contract stated that the renter could buy the property in 24 months for $250,000. Two years later, he decided to purchase the land for a quarter of a million dollars! This 3-acre lot that the Duggars had bought for just $65,000 had already provided a nice sum of money from the rent checks and now they were going to receive even more!" 

Hmm, maybe Jim Bob will get his own real estate show on HGTV one day. A guy can dream.

The Duggar family is crafty

One of the Duggar family's money-saving tricks involves do-it-yourself projects. For instance, Jim Bob and Michelle make their own laundry detergent instead of buying it at convenience stores. Pretty creative, right? Although it might not seem like a lot in the long run, the Duggars save a ton of money by making their own household products and other frequently used items. Not to mention, the Duggars built their massive (seriously, it's huge) family home instead of purchasing it off of the real estate market. 

"The Duggars' built the all-steel house from a kit, debt-free, and what began as a family project came to include the assistance of extended 'family' from the church and 'dear friends,'" an article published in The Arkansas Traveler said about the home. Although we're not sure where you can buy a "kit" to build a 7,000 square foot property, it's clear that Jim Bob and Michelle's money-saving hacks allows them to live comfortably. 

Reality TV is lucrative

Obviously, the Duggars make most of their money via reality television. When 19 Kids & Counting was on the air, reality producer Terence Michael estimated that the family brought home $25,000 to $40,000 "for four or five days' work, which is roughly how long it takes to film a typical episode," according to E! News

As for Counting On, the stars make a good chunk of change during filming. It's estimated that the reality stars make "about $25,000 to $40,000 per episode," according to InTouch Weekly, a figure that might shock some fans. And when you consider that an episode takes about four days to shoot, the family probably earns anywhere from $6,250 to $10,000 a day. Not too shabby, right? The only wrinkle in this plan is that the family has to divide their reality TV check amongst multiple people. Even so, this is not a bad salary when you consider the cost of living in Arkansas is much lower than other states.