Teen Mom stars earn more than $60,000 a season

Catelynn and Tyler

They’re shown living with their parents on the show, working part time jobs and struggling to pay for basic necessities, but the stars of MTV’s Teen Mom are not broke. Life & Style reports that they earn over $60,000 a year, which actually sounds pretty cheap of MTV considering how popular the show is. After so many of you suggested it, I’ve watched the first five episodes of the second season and I definitely get why so many of you watch this show. It’s kind of fascinating and you feel for these girls and their babies. Now that I know how much money they make I understand how Farrah affords that nice apartment despite complaining constantly about money. It also explains how these kids are able to go out to dinner all the time. Amber and Gary especially seem broke, but it sounds like they’re doing just fine.

Life & Style has learned that the stars of MTV’s hit show Teen Mom are raking in the dough!

“The Teen Mom stars earn $60,000 to $65,000 per season,” a series insider tells Life & Style. It’s enough to provide on-again, off-again couple Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley with comfortable lives — but neither one seems to be a good saver. “Gary says he’s broke,” Gary’s best friend, Jordan Sanchez, tells Life & Style. “The money is the only reason he’s willing to do the show. You can’t walk away from money like that.”

It’s true–in fact, Jordan tells Life & Style that Amber and Gary have already started filming the next season of Teen Mom in Tennessee. Lately, they’ve talked about moving to Florida, where Amber’s uncle owns a business.

[From Life & Style]

Like I said I’ve only seen a few episodes of this show, but this really makes me question how “real” it is. They present it like a kind of documentary and the kids are constantly worried about money and cutting corners to make ends meet. It just seems so false to me if they’re paid so well. Sure $60,000 isn’t a huge amount of money, but it’s good pay and it’s not like they’re living hand to mouth.

It’s easy to imagine Amber and Gary wasting their money because they’re just so trashy. Amber is so damn cruel and nasty and she can be hard to watch. Catelynn and Tyler, who gave up their baby for adoption, are good kids and are probably giving the money to their families. Jezebel is soliciting donations for a college fund for them and on the show it seems like they really need it. Their families look very poor. Maci comes from an upper middle class family and is very responsible, so I can see her managing her money well and continuing to work for her son’s sake. Farrah is somewhat of a dimwit and was shown getting victimized by an online scam in which someone wrote her a bad check and then had her wire them money in exchange for selling her car. (Her mom is a manipulative, abusive bitch though and she’s dealing with a lot.) Farrah’s bank told her that her account was overdrawn for nearly the full amount she wired, so what happened to her MTV paycheck? Does MTV make the stars save that money separately?

It’s good that MTV is paying these kids but then how do they justify showing them barely getting by? Are they putting the money in trust and making them live on whatever they make? I doubt it. Do only the women make $60,000 or do their partners pull in that money too? Producers have some explaining to do.


Gary and Amber


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52 Responses to “Teen Mom stars earn more than $60,000 a season”

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  1. francesca says:

    I wonder, though, if the money they make is somehow held in trust for the benefit of the babies?

  2. mel says:

    wow that’s a nice chunk of change for a 18 yr old to earn. i’m sure some things are probabaly over exaggerated but from what i can tell none of them have expensive cars or live extravagant lives.

  3. LeeLee says:

    I thought my super sweet 16 was bad. Showing all these superficial brats with two much time and money on their hands. This show is 10x worse. I hope they hold this money in trust until these irresponsible “parents” are mature enough to make better decisions (like when they’re 50!).

  4. Megan says:

    they prolly have to wait to the end of the season or somethin like that

  5. Hautie says:

    I only watched the first season (in full) when they were pregnant. And the follow up show. But I have not been able to catch this entire season. (I need to find MTV doing a all day repeat of the season.)

    Any who… I found Amber just lack any type of realistic maturity. Just a bully. She fully expected to sit at home and be financially supported. With all the complaining… non-stop. Ugh.

    Maci was a favorite. She seemed to grasp that she was responsible for the baby. Even with her parents supporting her decision about having the baby she fully realizes he was her personal responsibility.

    But her boy friend flaked completely out. Is he even with the show any more?

    And no 60,000. is not a fair salary for those girls. You have to factor in taxes on that sum. And I bet they all have ex-boyfriends who want half of it.

    But leave it to MTV to be cheap b*stards. They could pay them double and still not even put a dent into their profits.

  6. heb says:

    Farrah bought that new car with her $$.

  7. Innocent says:

    That’s quite low considering how popular the show is. They need a raise

  8. maya says:

    That is not a lot of money. That make $60k a season, not for each episode. I wonder what Amber did with her money? Amber looks a mess in every episode.

  9. Riley says:

    I hope they are saving some of that money because when they are no longer teens, and their popularity has worn off, I really don’t want my tax dollars going to supporting them and their children. Not that I am opposed to helping others but I make significantly less than 60,000 a year but manage to have healthcare, dental care, sock a few hundred away each month into my 401K, etc. etc. I am not saying that I may never need government assistance but I am also trying to work hard and save now so I can avoid that from happening. I hope they are doing the same.

  10. Stella says:

    Now I won’t swear to this- but I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that MTV set up a trust for the kids and the money goes into that and that Moms aren’t getting paid. MTV said that they didn’t want to “reward” teenage pregnancy or encourage other girls to get pregnant to get on the show and make money. However, I’m sure they make some extra money from the magazine interviews and covers they are on, which helps them afford their apartments and meals out. I’ll try to find the link where I read that and post it…

  11. jc126 says:

    If that’s true, that the money is held in trust for the kids, it’s still rewarding teenage pregnancy. There’s no way to help a kid financially or otherwise and NOT help the parents.
    Also, I would question that, because don’t TV shows HAVE to pay the participants at least something?

  12. Jacq says:

    I’m with Stella, it was my understanding as well that the money was for the kiddos. As a woman, and a previous victim of unprovoked abuse, I’d really love to see Gary take Leah into the other room after Amber hits him again – and come back and knock her clean out the next time that she hits him when he’s holding the baby. I think that “Dr.” Drew was really easy on Amber compared to how he really got after Catelynn’s mom about being abusive. Amber’s reply was “I don’t know why” she violent and that was sufficient?!?! Ugh! Farrah’s the bitch, I actually side with her Mom, I hope Catelynn can go to college & I just LOVE Maci! Team Bentley!

  13. Meghan says:

    Well I always thought it was weird that Amber was getting government assistance to pay for her apartment/house, then complaining about how she couldn’t pay her utility bill, yet she and her friend go to get their nails done. I only have a car payment, cell phone bill, and gas to pay for, yet I don’t have the money to get my nails done.

    And Maci’s been quite upfront about how she does work, wants to provide for Bentley, but that her parents do help her out sometimes. And I seem to remember part of an episode where it was going to cost $1500 to bail out Butch, and it seemed like Catelynn’s Mom wanted them to give her the money for the bail? I may have dreamed that, though.

  14. kelBear says:

    Both Farrah and Maci have nice new cars. Amber seems like she probably spends her money on drugs. Honestly though, I am sure some of the money has to be put in some kind of savings for the babies. And Caitlynn and Tyler, eh just not a fan of them for some reason. I understand wanting an open adoption but they act like the kid should still be theirs but the other couple just take care of the hard stuff.

  15. Anastasia says:

    I also read that the money goes into a trust for their *children* and the actual parents (or in the case of Farrah, just Farrah) just get a small amount per season.

    Otherwise, it’d be pretty disingenuous, no?

    In the case of Tyler and Catelynn, I wonder how they handled that? I mean, Carly was adopted by a couple with means. I believe they paid Catelynn’s medical bills from being pregnant, but Carly’s adoptive parents more than have things covered.

    So I don’t know. I think there’s a lot we don’t know about how much they are paid, how they are paid, and how much they are allowed to touch, you know?

    On the other hand, they are on a show and selling their private lives for public consumption, so there should be SOME compensation. You just can’t get around that. Maci’s family doesn’t seem to need it, they seem to do pretty well for themselves. Ditto Farrah’s family. But Tyler and Catelynn seem to be from the poorest families, with Amber and Gary following right behind them.

  16. bitca says:

    Cable channels are also notoriously cheap, & unless the participants are members of SAG or AFTRA (film/TV actor unions), am not sure there’s any particular *obligation* to pay them much of anything.

    I’d love to know what they do about these kids being underage. They–& certainly their babies—are supposed to be protected by law w/regard to amount of time shooting. That’s not just union rules; there are child-labor laws, too. Just curious. How is this managed in Reality Show climes? Are there doubles for the babies?? After all, baby-performer safety rules helped to bring infant phenomenons Mary-Kate & Ashley to global rule. Are there 2 Baby Masons on the Kardashian shows?

    BTW, the Amber & Gary photo looks so staged it’s hilarious.

  17. constance says:

    As a teen mom at 14 and again at 17, I find this whole thing disgusting. It was the hardest thing in the world for me to do. I worked two part time jobs, went to HS (graduated with Honors bc I didn’t have a lunch hour for 3 years) and went on to a private University. I did it all on my own because it was my choice to have my children. Not the state and not some TV producers dream. I’ve spoken to HS kids I work with now and that show does NOT reach them as being “anti-teen mom.” It reaches them as “see they can do it, see it’s not so hard, see babies are WAY cute and will love you no matter what terrible childhood you bring to the table.”

    I’ve never made 60k in my life. My mother works as a bank manager and doesn’t make 60k. I’D LOVE 60k to live off of, but I’d never agree to this fake “reality” fuckery. If it’s a documentary NO ONE should be paid and everything should be real and unedited.

    America is such a wasteland of ill intent.

  18. fabgrrl says:

    Oh, that’s great. Get knocked up as a teenager and earn as much as someone like me, who finished high school, went to college then grad school, started a career, got married and THEN had babies. WTF?!?! This is why I don’t watch TV.

  19. Lisa Turtle says:

    I would be the money is held in a trust for the kids, or maybe for the parents when they reach a certain age (25 or 30?) Conditions on the money would keep the story more “real” although MTV definitely gives the parents who appear some sort of compensation for filming. They must, because its illegal to have people work for free.

  20. Lisa Turtle says:

    Also. I will say this show DOES NOT glamorize Teen Parenthood at all.

    Amber’s life is a nightmare. She’s clearly dealing with addiction and mental health issues. Farrah’s story deals with domestic violence. Catelynn and Tyler show that adoption can be a positive option for everyone involved. Even Maci, who seems to be doing the best, deals with a deadbeat dad (Ryan) and a boyfriend who can’t commit to being with a mother.

  21. mel says:

    Out of all of the teen moms I would say Bristol Palin is making out the most, BIG time.

  22. jc126 says:

    I don’t think it necessarily glamorizes it, exactly, but in their case it’s certainly possibly lucrative. I would like to say that I think people wouldn’t TRY to get on the show, but a lot of people these days are 1. desperate for money and 2. nutty as hell.
    I caught the premiere of the new 16& Pregnant the other night; the mom of the teen seemed to be obviously playing to the camera.

  23. ashleighlauren says:

    Tyler and Catelynn didn’t “give up” their baby. They placed her with an adoptive family. “Give up” implies that they abandoned her rather than making an adoption plan so that everyone (including their daughter’s) needs would be met.

    I’m sorry, I’m sure that seems kind of picky, but as an adoption worker, the terminology really does matter to birth and adoptive parents. What Tyler and Catelynn did was extremely difficult. I applaud MTV for including them in the show because they’re providing an option for people who become pregnant at a time when they cannot parent a child.

    More on topic, I’ve also heard that most of the money goes into a trust. MTV is leaving something out; otherwise, Amber wouldn’t be receiving assistance.

  24. Iggles says:

    Wow, that picture of Amber and Gary is so sad…

  25. Green Is Good says:

    She’ll blow every last penny on cheap clothes, make-up, booze, cigarettes and partying with her friends.

  26. launicaangelina says:

    Wow! I’m 30 with a college degree and no kids. I make $33k per year. I’m kinda pissed reading that teenagers who got knocked up are making twice as me…

  27. Obvious says:

    I’m glad you took the time to watch it and understand why many of us watch it. I think that the girls receive some assistance from the show but most of the money they can’t touch. MTV won’t put them on the streets, but they don’t give them enough to become spoiled with it.

    and as much as I hate them, i hope they keep amber and gary on the show, and show amber getting the serious help she needs, that would be a fantastic learning experience. Or Leah get’s taken away and they show the repercussions.

  28. MissyA says:

    I’m not a prude, but I don’t watch this show, nor do I care to. I think it absolutely gives impressionable teenagers the wrong idea of parenting.

    (Mr Missy is interning as a literacy teacher at an inner-city high school. Two thirds of the the children can’t read at an appropriate level – but the girls sit around at the lunch table and discuss how they’re going to raise their babies, “Like Maci!” So gross.)

    Case in point – 60k is not a realistic salary for someone who hasn’t completed their high school education.

    Pay attention people. The empire is falling. The end is near.

  29. Jeri says:

    MTV should run something at the end or as a crawl during the show explaining the money situation cuz this really does make you wonder.

  30. DD says:

    I’m tired of people who only mention that Amber is abusive. Gary is abusive too, he says things to Amber that cut her deeply and disguises it. He also hit her very hard in the face with a door in one episode.

  31. KsGirl says:

    Really? People really think this show glamourizes teen pregnancy? Nothing about the lives these girls/couples are living would make me want that for myself. I’m not someone who believes that teen pregnancy always = your life is hell FOREVER, so maybe that plays into my thoughts, but I just can’t imagine anyone who would see this and think “yes, now THAT is what I want for myself and my child(ren)!”.

    I enjoy this show. There has been some controversy surrounding Farrah (the ‘it’s all her fault’ crowd vs the ‘her mom is a crazy bitch, what do you expect’ crowd) and I am with Celebitchy. Farrah is no Mom of the Year, but she doesn’t seem genuinely evil/unhinged like her own mother does. If I had come from that household and had a baby at 17 I really don’t think I’d be doing as good a job as she is. She messes up, but I don’t sense any ill will towards her baby – she seems well intentioned, just very naive and inexperienced.

    Also have no idea how Tyler and Caitlin managed to grow up so emotionally normal given their family situations. I wodner if having parents who are basically (drug addicted) children or criminals forces a child into the parent role early on? Neither are perfect – Caitlin especially seems vulnerable – but I am rooting for them, big time.

  32. original kate says:

    seriously, why do people watch this show?

  33. cristobal says:

    I don’t think 60-65/K a season is exactly raking it in, you know. Jesus, I’m a middle management office hack and make more than that.

  34. Ashley says:

    I’m curious to know how Amber gets away with collecting welfare when she rakes in that much. And if they do get that much she and Gary are absolute sh-t at using that money for anything good. I mean she could have put a downpayment on a house, bought a reliable car but instead she looks like she doesn’t have a dime (except to buy fast food). It’s not like she lives in some big expensive city where rent is high.

    Same goes for Farrah and Caitlynn. You really wouldn’t know they make that much money. Caitlynn obviously comes from a VERY poor family and Farrah has a crappy job at a pizza parlor and seems to never have any money.

    Maci’s always been well off so there’s no difference there.

  35. teenmom95 says:

    Wow. This really disappoints me… I was a teen mom (had my daughter at 14). Needless to say, we’ve struggled but have managed to survive. Where’s MY paycheck for being irresponsible? Not cool, MTV… not cool.

  36. Shannon says:

    Making $60k a year when you have a baby to support and you’re on your own is a great salary, but you still don’t get to just throw it around willy nilly. If these kids are paying for school and nice things for the babies and maybe a couple perks for themselves (nice apartment, new car) and putting some away for the future, I don’t think that leaves much.

    I know Maci took some time off to spend time with Bentley too, which I imagine she was able to do because of the money. But it wasn’t permanent, just for the summer. So it’s not necessarily life-changing money for her or Farrah. It might be for Catelynn and Tyler because their parents have no money at all, and I suppose it would be for Amber but obviously she has squandered it somehow (probably drugs).

  37. Candy says:

    Personally I find nothing wrong with them earning the money…Except Cate & Tyler. Something doesn’t sit right with me about that. Being rewarded with $60,000 a year (that’s equal to $5000 a month) for giving their child up for adoption & claiming they couldn’t provide for her.

  38. Candy says:

    Cate also strikes me as the type, who now that they’re being financially compensated, will have another baby to fill the emotional void from giving up her first baby. She’s always talking about having more kids. Think about it.

  39. Sarah says:

    Love this show

  40. Michellle says:

    Why is this any of our business? They are working for MTV. It’s not hard work, but personally I would never want my life taped for everyone to watch, especially if I was a teen mom. Anyway, this is why people should never talk about incomes and money- it’s tacky and just makes peope angry.

    And if teens are watching this show and thinking it looks fun or like a good life, then teenagers really are dumber than ever and we have completely failed as a society/parents.

  41. mia says:

    Farrah’s mom has been cast as an evil witch but she doesn’t deserve that. Considering what a selfish person she has for a daughter, she should get more credit. Farrah couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag although she seems to make a pretty good playmate for her baby.

  42. bellaluna says:

    As a teenage mother myself, there are aspects of this that disgust me.

    I had a deadbeat “baby daddy” who nearly killed me. (Abuse)

    That little boy is now 20 years old, and I’ve rarely seen a dime in child support. (Deadbeat)

    My son’s sperm donor wanted to see him when he wanted, not when the court ordered, and hasn’t seen him since he was 3. (Passive-aggressive; disruptive to my little one’s life)

    I went to college and supported my son while earning $625 per month. (Raised my child without living in my parents’ house, without them providing childcare, and without whining)

    While I empathise with these girls, they have it WAY EASIER than I ever had. Don’t bitch at me about making $60K a year when I made $625 a month! I STILL did it on my own.

  43. bellaluna says:

    I also made it my personal mission to not fall into the statistic that I would have another baby within 18 months.

    My next child was born after I’d been married for two-and-a-half years. Yes, my husband and I ended up divorced (we married WAY too young); but we both love our children and do what’s best for them.

    My third child was born (after 9 years of marriage and the belief that I wasn’t able to get pregnant again) in May 2009.

    Everything I’ve been through has led me to where I am in life, and if that’s what it took to get here, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    I DID IT! But it’s not glamorous, and it’s not easy.

  44. bellaluna says:

    For some reason, all my comments are posting twice – sorry!

  45. Kiska says:

    It seems that people are rewarded these days for behaving poorly (e.g Jersey Shore kids) or for doing something like getting knocked up at 15.
    It seems like we are going backwards in terms of social etiquette, morality, and decency.

  46. guesty says:

    considering how much the ‘stars’ of the hills were paid per epi…this seems really modest for mtv.

  47. Dena says:

    $60K per season after taxes is NOT that much money and I bet MTV has something in place where they don’t get the money until filming is done or it goes into a trust fund of some sort. It would ruin the direction of the show if the teenagers didn’t have to worry about money. But even if they do get paid upfront it is not easy to support a family on what would be less than $30K a year after paying taxes.

    @bellaluna – I wanna know where in the US you live that you can pay rent and utilities, buy food and clothing and toiletries for yourself and child(ren), maintain auto/health/dental/renters insurance, transportation costs, childcare, and other miscellaneous expenses for $625/month with no outside assistance. Also, where did anyone say these teen moms are “bitching” about their situation? You sound pretty bitter about your life circumstances in your comment.

    I was a teen mom and my baby is now a teenager. We watch this show together and it opens up discussions about how difficult it was for me and the experiences I want her to have before taking on the stress of being a parent. I think it has been great for her to see these kids struggling, see how few of their relationships last beyond the pregnancy, and see how much harder everything is for them than it is for their childless friends.

    I really don’t see where anything about the show encourages teenagers to get pregnant. I wish I had this kind of peek into the lives of teenager mothers before I got knocked up at 15.

  48. Lemon Drops says:

    Maybe they haven’t gotten paid yet or if they have, maybe they’re only getting small payments a month. Who knows.

  49. wendala says:

    I heard they recieve the money after each season – so while filming their struggles are realistic.

  50. marley says:

    I think this whole show is disgusting

  51. big feet bunny says:

    maci rented a house all on her own and took the summer off of college and work. she also drives a dodge charger.

  52. penny says:

    I was a single parent and I am rooting for all these girls to make it.