How the stars of Teen Mom really make their money

The cast of MTV's Teen Mom franchise is predominantly comprised of women who really know how to hustle. Whether they're promoting tons of products on Instagram, writing books, launching brands, starting podcasts, or becoming stars in the adult entertainment industry (Yes, really), these young moms do way more than just cause irresistible drama for the channel that used to be non-stop music videos. 

Though some cast members have been more forthcoming than others about how much they make on the show, it's clear that over the years, they've all gone from the rough start of having a high school pregnancy to living pretty comfortable lives. Most of these mamas have some sort of side gig — some cushier than others and some more scandalous than others — but they're all making bank one way or another. Here's how the stars of Teen Mom really make their money.

Chelsea stacks that cheese

Teen Mom fan favorite Chelsea DeBoer, nee Houska, got lots of support from her father, Dr. Randy Houska, when she got pregnant and had daughter Aubree with then-boyfriend Adam Lind. Since then, she probably doesn't need the help anymore thanks to a slew of Instagram endorsements, including sunglasses, waist trainers, products for moms, and whatever else she can snap and promote. According to Business Insider, so-called "social media influencers" who have "a few million followers" — DeBoer has north of five million followers as of this writing — have the potential to earn "six-figure incomes and as much as $9,000 per post."

On top of that, she and her current husband, Cole DeBoer, have actual jobs. He's a "traffic control specialist" in their home state of South Dakota and also launched a designer sock line in 2018. Chelsea works as an esthetician at a spa. (She documented her cosmetology school struggles on the show.) That's not even counting the salary Chelsea makes for Teen Mom, which her ex, Adam Lind, claimed in an Instagram rant (via Hollywood Life) was $250,000 for the 2015 season of Teen Mom, and upwards of $300,000 for subsequent seasons. 

Tyler and Cate make it ... reign

Catelynn Lowell was a stay-at-home mom for a while, and she and husband Tyler Baltierra have admitted they're not sure what they want to do with their lives, so it's a good thing they have reality TV to sustain them until they figure it out. On top of making bank off of Teen Mom, they tried to cash in on another reality series for MTV called Reunited, which ended up turning into a "one-time special." The couple also appeared on Couples Therapy on VH1 in 2013, for which they allegedly earned an estimated $100,000.

Outside of TV work, Baltierra and Lowell wrote a book, Conquering Chaos, which was well-received, and launched a clothing line, Tierra Reign, which they documented on the show. Back in 2014, Lowell told In Touch that she and Baltierra were "financially stable," and that they held down 9-to-5 gigs "caring for developmentally disabled adults," although it's unclear as of this writing if they're still punching that clock. 

Both Lowell and Baltierra also seem to be monetizing their Instagram accounts with sponsored posts, so they've got that going for them as well. Clearly, they seem to be doing just fine, in spite of Catelynn's net worth being reported at just $20,000.

Leah lands that loot

Leah Messer has had a few jobs during her tenure on Teen Mom, including gigs as a tanning salon clerk and a Mary Kay consultant. She also took a crack at cosmetology school and briefly enrolled at West Virginia State University. However, her struggles with depression, stress, and alleged substance abuse, as well as the difficulties of balancing a job with taking care of her twins (one of whom has special needs) and a third child, proved to possibly be too much for her, and, as of this writing, it's unclear what her off-camera job is (if she has one).

As far as side hustles go, Messer has been known to promote assorted products. In Touch reported that she repped for a lipstick company called LipSense in 2017, and as of 2018, she seems to be involved in a customized clothing line called Live Your Standard, which she plugs on Instagram.

Thankfully, Messer also has income from the show as well as child support from both her exes, one of whom, Jeremy Calvert, reportedly takes home around $200,000 a year as a pipeline engineer. Her approximate net worth is $75,000, but if she keeps going with those potentially lucrative Instagram promotions, the sky's the limit.

Amber Portwood pulls that paper

Amber Portwood has publicly discussed her Teen Mom pay. According to The Herald Bulletin, Portwood disclosed that she made "$140,000 for a six-month contract with MTV" in 2010. Assuming she's been able to negotiate up from there in the ensuing years, thanks to the show's ever-increasing popularity, that's a nice chunk of change to be making on its own. She also wrote a book, started a real estate company, and launched a makeup line and clothing boutique (which seems to be experiencing some growing pains as of this writing).

Speaking with the International Business Times about her multifaceted approach to money-making, Portwood said, "I like to be independent in that way. I like to invest my money in a lot of things instead of just living off of it." She also has no plans to start filling out applications anytime soon. "I don't see how any of us could star on Teen Mom and go and work [for] somebody," she said. "I think we need to be smart." Sounds like a good plan to us!

Don't be jelly of Jenelle Evans' jacksons

Jenelle Evans is the other cast member who dished the dirt on her show paycheck, revealing in a 2015 radio interview (via The Ashley's Reality Roundup) that she'd made close to $500,000 on Teen Mom since first appearing on the series in 2009. Since then, she's earned a degree in medical assisting and written a book.

According to E! News, Evans' role on the show was in question in 2018, after her husband, David Eason, got booted for allegedly making homophobic remarks on social media. Evans then openly lamented being unable to leave the show herself due to her contractual obligation.

But on top of begrudgingly collecting what could be another few hundred grand for the remainder of her agreement, Evans also has a few other side streams going. Her makeup and clothing lines launched in late 2017, and while the makeup, JE Cosmetics, has endured some tough scrutiny, the apparel, JE Shop, seems to be chugging along — although we can't say with any certainty how t-shirts emblazoned with "My Alarm Clock Is Called Anxiety" and "Alfredo Is Life" are flying off the shelves. Evans has even entered the the tech sector with her JEmoji App. For the low price of $1.99, you can text caricatures of Evans' face and catchphrases such as "Wif Ya Boooooyfriend." Two bucks well spent if you ask us.

Kail collects the clams

Aside from her Teen Mom salary, which could be in the several hundred thousand per year range if she's on par with Chelsea DeBoer and Amber Portwood, Kailyn Lowry's also a bestselling author of four books: Pride Over Pity, Hustle and Heart, Love is Bubblegum (Her new book, A Letter of Love, is available for pre-order, as of this writing). She's also shilled various products on Instagram, including scales, waist trainers, and selfie lights.

As for a regular job, Lowry briefly worked as a dental assistant, pulling in a $32,000 salary, but she left to relocate for then-husband Javi Marroquin's job in 2013. She eventually enrolled at Delaware State University and graduated in 2017 with a degree in mass communications, which she immediately put to use by launching a podcast — another possible revenue stream. She also collaborated with the clothing line FYH in 2018 for a few pieces of her own collection. Add that all up, and it seems like Lowry is well on her way to the good life.

Maci makes her moolah on the down low

According to an interview with The Ashley's Reality Roundup, Maci Bookout graduated from Chattanooga State Community College with an associate's degree in media technology in December 2015. She apparently put those book smarts to use by founding her own social media marketing company, according to the International Business Times. "I don't brand it as me from MTV or on TV," Bookout said of her "down low" career. "If people don't watch the show then they would never know that I'm on TV. I don't bring it up."

On top of that, Bookout is involved with her husband's apparel company, Things That Matter, which is routinely featured on the show. She's also hip to the Instagram branding game, promoting everything from movies such as Paper Towns to fitness products to furniture to weight loss tea to party favors to waist trainers to hairstyling tools. Not enough for you? Bookout has also written two books, Bulletproof and I Wasn't Born Bulletproof: Lessons I've Learned (So You Don't Have To)

Is one of those lessons to diversify your income streams? Because she's clearly got that down.

The scandalous stacks of Farrah Abraham

Though she's no longer on the series, Farrah Abraham was one of its original and most controversial stars. She is also arguably the most successful outside of it. Say what you want about her life decisions, but the Teen Mom star knows how to make a buck.

For starters, Abraham claimed to make $1 million from her infamous sex tape, despite a Fox News investigation that suggested she may have made just "$10,000 upfront" and a cut of the sales from the video. However, she undeniably capitalized on it in a big way, making a sequel, launching her own line of sex toys, writing several erotic novels, stripping, making appearances at adult entertainment expos, and operating an adult webcam site (all of which caused the rift between her and MTV that led to her ouster from the show.)

Abraham also makes plenty of loot outside of the adult entertainment industry, shilling weight loss teas and other items on social media, as well as operating a boutique, a furniture store, and a froyo shop. She even acted in a few B-horror movies, dabbled in pop music, and managed to land a spot on Couples Therapy by allegedly faking a relationship. As a result, she boasts an impressive estimated net worth of more than $1 million, far and above any of her MTV peers.

Briana's benjamins have yet to materialize

Briana DeJesus resurrected her Teen Mom stardom when she joined the cast of Teen Mom 2 in 2017. Although she reportedly only made $20,000 in her comeback year, DeJesus has been clever about using her regenerated fame to beef up her bank account.

As of this writing, she has less than a million Instagram followers, but DeJesus has already managed to get her foot in the sponsored post game. She also wrangled a deal with famed plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer, aka Dr. Miami, to have a bunch of (mostly) free work done in exchange for allowing him to broadcast her procedures on social media. Having undergone "a tummy tuck, liposuction, a Brazilian Butt Lift re-do and a breast lift with exchange of her breast implants," DeJesus' arrangement likely saved her tens of thousands of dollars.

As of June 2018, DeJesus also worked a regular job doing "the backhand work" of the timeshare industry, according to InTouch. As of this writing, it's unclear if this Teen Mom 2 addition will start an empire of side hustles, but if her cast mates are any indication, all signs point to yes.