How Bachelorettes really make money

Since The Bachelor and The Bachelorette debuted on ABC, millions have tuned in for the romance, love triangles, over-the-top personalities, nail-biting rose ceremonies, and all those Laurens. The hit reality TV franchise has become the 21st-century fairy tale. Of course, with 25 contestants vying for the attention of a single man or woman, not every star on the show gets a happily ever after, but that doesn't mean they can't walk away with something else. Believe it or not, dispensing and receiving roses can be a lucrative gig ... if you play your cards right.

Have you ever wondered just how much your favorite singles earn searching for love on The Bachelor and/or The Bachelorette? From a couple thousand to a quarter million, there's a lot of dough to be gained and lost while appearing on the show, and then there's one's post-show career to consider. Some stars grow those roses into lucrative entertainment careers. Others wind up living at home with their parents. Which stars are buying wardrobes that exceed the median income and which contestant remortgaged a house to hunt for a husband? Keep reading to find out how these bachelorettes really make (and spend) their money as they vie for true love.

Bachelorettes shell out a lot of cash looking for Mr. Right

True love is worth a little debt, right? How much are we talking? "I had re-mortgaged my house and I spent something like $8,000 on clothing," former contestant Jillian Harris wrote on her personal blog. She competed in Season 13 of The Bachelor and was cast as the leading lady in Season 5 of The Bachelorette, yet she still came up short and short-changed. She wasn't alone. "I was so broke I returned everything that still had tags on," Season 22 Bachelor contestant Bekah Martinez told Glamour

ABC reportedly does not pay for the wardrobes of the women competing on The Bachelor, but it's not just ball gowns for red rose ceremonies that will rack up charges on your credit card. According to E! News, spray tans, lash extensions, and brow work are just some of the pricey beauty treatments that bachelorettes are spending $1,000 to $8,000 on in order to look their best on TV. "I know that there are women in the past who cashed out their 401(k)s for the show," Possessionista blogger Dana Weiss told Mic. "...some have gone into serious credit card debt." 

Fortunately, the ladies who star in The Bachelorette reportedly don't have to self-fund their glamorous ensembles. For Emily Maynard, that meant an estimated $350,000 worth of designer duds that she supposedly got to keep. Do you think any of those pieces still had the tags on them?

Bachelorettes roll the dice with their resumes

Going into debt over your looks isn't the only sacrifice bachelorettes reportedly make in the name of love. Spending roughly two months on a reality TV show means you'll have to put your career on hold too, and rebounding from that experience can prove lucrative or ludicrous. 

Olivia Caridi (pictured left) quit her job as a journalist before competing on Season 20 of The Bachelor. "I am confident that I will get another job in broadcast news to continue my career," the blonde stunner wrote on her website. Poor Caridi certainly didn't seem so sure of herself by week 6 on the show, when she was left crying alone in the Bahamas as leading man Ben Higgins sped off on a boat without her. After the show, Caridi told the New York Post that she moved into her parents' home in Austin, Texas. "It was a really dark time for me," she said. And yet? "It was worth it.”

Of course, "worth" can be a subjective term, but reality star Rachel Lindsay (pictured right) certainly walked away from Season 13 of The Bachelorette with some high-dollar bling on her ring finger — a 3-carat Neil Lane diamond engagement ring reportedly worth about $100,000 — and she also kept her job with law firm Cooper & Scully P.C

Bachelorettes can make bank on social media

Despite the hefty up-front investment, bachelorettes can cash in on their reality TV time by becoming social media influencers. According to Media Kix, contestants can "translate their exposure from the show into a social media footprint and lasting exposure." The site estimates that sponsored posts can attract "$37,000 per month on Instagram, totaling $444,000 in a year" on the low end to "$888k to $1.33 million a year" on the high end. 

The Bachelor contestant Bekah Martinez (pictured right) gave up her job as a nanny to appear on Season 22 of the show, but lucrative options emerged after her tenure on TV. "I'm very lucky that I've had a lot of different opportunities come my way, through appearances and sponsored social media posts," she told Glamour. "...I'd certainly do it all over again." And, apparently, her more than 574,000 Instagram followers would gladly go along for the ride.

Kaitlyn Bristowe (pictured left) talked to The Cut about her online fame following her starring turn on Season 11 of The Bachelorette. "Overnight you have this huge following, so all these brands are like, 'Here, do you want to work with us? So you get offers to do the Flat Tummy Tea and the teeth whitening and all that. For somebody who has worked a regular job before, you're like, 'Oh my gosh, you're going to pay me to do that? Glorious.'" Stars like Bristowe, with more than 1 million followers on Instagram, can reportedly command $10,000 or more per post! 

Bachelorette salaries vary widely

While contestants vying for roses may not be earning any money during their time on the show, the titular stars on The Bachelorette reportedly do cash a paycheck. According to Amy Kaufman, author of Bachelor Nation, "The star of the show is the only one who gets paid, and the salary is negotiated based on what he/she might make at work during the production time period." Kaufman claims its "incredibly rare for someone to make less than six figures," but some of the contestants quoted in her book reportedly earned far less than that.

Season 3 Bachelorette Jenn Schefft said her salary fell short, in part, because she didn't lawyer up when discussing her contract with ABC. "I shouldn't have been such a stupid girl and just wimped out and not stood up for myself," she said in the book. A source told Us Weekly that Ashley Herbert, star of Season 7 of The Bachelorette, only pocketed $30,000 for her starring turn. And get this: Bachelor Nation claims Season 2's Meredith Phillips (pictured left) earned a paltry $10,000 during her time on the show! On the other end of the spectrum, remember Emily Maynard (pictured right) of Season 8 — the one with the $350K wardrobe? She supposedly negotiated a whopping $250,000 for her two-month stint on the show.

It pays to stay together

Making it to the altar can mean a big payday for these reality TV romances. In 2003, Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter (pictured) became the first "I do" couple on The Bachelorette, and after the series concluded, ABC kept the party going by sharing the lovebirds' bachelor and bachelorette parties and the big wedding with millions of viewers. According to E! News, the doting couple was reportedly paid $1 million to allow cameras to capture its sweetest matrimonial moments in a 3-part special. 

The Sutters weren't the only reality TV stars to televise their happy ending. According to E! News, ABC orchestrated a $1 million wedding for bachelorette-turned-bride Catherine Giudici and her Bachelor star hubby Sean Lowe. In addition to planning the wedding, the Season 17 pair reportedly received "a six-figure sum to walk down the aisle in front of millions of people" on TV. In other words, getting hitched is yet another way for these bachelorettes to both make and save a whole heck of a lot of dough.

Bachelorettes can cash in on the reality TV genre

It's no coincidence that you're cheering for your favorite bachelorette on Dancing with the Stars. Producers regularly recruit from other reality TV shows, and that can really pay off. According to GawkerDancing with the Stars initially pays all its contestants $125,000, then bonuses that increase in size as the weeks roll on. Those who make it to the final show supposedly collect a total of $354,000. So, if you thought bachelorettes were simply trying to learn a fancy new two-step, think again. It's all about the Benjamins. 

The original Bachelorette, Trista Sutter (formerly Rehn), has appeared on several reality TV shows since her rose-dispensing days, and it's reportedly paid off. After stints on Marriage Boot CampDancing with the Stars, and Fear Factor, her estimated net worth sits at a healthy $2 million. Season 12 Bachelorette Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher and her show beau Jordan Rodgers landed their very own home renovation series called Cash Pad, which has no doubt lined their pockets with some extra cheddar.