JoJo Fletcher couldn’t believe it when she received the call that she had been invited to be a contestant on the 20th season of The Bachelor. She and her mom were stunned, but then they began freaking out.
It wasn’t because they were worried she wouldn’t receive a rose. It wasn’t because they were concerned about the competition.
It was because they had no idea how she would stay afloat financially while gone from work for the tapings.
A real estate developer by trade, Fletcher confessed to CNBC that you “pretty much have to quit your job.”
“One of the biggest things for a lot of people who go on the show is that it’s kind of scary … you have to quit your job or have a really nice boss who will let you take off a chunk of time. You’re putting your financial state at risk,” she said in an interview.
Fletcher was runner-up on Season 20 of The Bachelor and the 28-year-old ended up engaged when she starred in the 12th season of The Bachelorette a couple of years ago.
“I remember me and my mom being very stressed out … I bought a ton of dresses and remember thinking that I hope I don’t get cut, ‘cuz I’m not sure I can return all of those,” she said. “It’s an investment and hopefully you do get to wear all of those beautiful pieces. If not, make sure the store has a good return policy. But you don’t have to go all out and find extravagant pieces, but find affordable ones you look great in anyway.”
People went crazy when Bachelorette star Becca Kufrin wore a $6,000 gown in advertisements for upcoming episodes, shared MONEY. Stars of the shows usually receive upwards of $100,000 for their appearances, but contestants aren’t so lucky – they have to cover their own expenses, reveals Amy Kaufman in the book Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure.
Contestants receive vague instructions and are told to pack for a variety of climates and weather as well as at least 14 formalwear outfits. Becca Tilley told MONEY that her cluelessness saved her budget because she borrowed a few outfits from friends, purchased some inexpensive outfits from Forever 21, and headed for the contestants’ guest house.
“I kept thinking, ‘What if I spend all this money and get sent home the first night?'” Tilley said. “So I just winged it. When I got there, some of the girls were talking about how much they spent on clothes [and] I was like, ‘HAVE I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE HERE?'”
For her second season, Tilley said she spent about $500. But not everyone is as frugal. In 2016, Olivia Caridi supposedly spent $40,000 on clothes, a rumor she shot down.
“I don’t have $40,000 to spend on clothing,” she clarified. “I am a journalist who is just starting a career, and my checking account reflects that.”
Marikh Mathias pointed out that the women have to spend more than the men and it stinks. She stocked up on makeup, had her hair cut and colored, then mixed inexpensive dresses with higher end ones, a total of approximately $3,500.
“I spent like $70 on eyelashes,” she said. “I just bought a bunch because I was like, I don’t want to run out and not be able to get them.”
Jillian Harris appeared on The Bachelor in 2009 followed by The Bachelorette after that. She remortgaged her house and spent upwards of $8,000 on clothes for the first show alone, she told MONEY.
However, when ABC produced a spinoff called Bachelor in Paradise, everyone was paid. Bachelor blogger Reality Steve said that some people made up to $15,000 in the show’s first season.
Taylor Nolan competed on The Bachelor in 2017 before joining the Bachelor in Paradise cast last summer. Fresh out of graduate school and deep in student loan debt, she splurged a couple grand for clothes and makeup, but then was sent home during the fifth week. Since she was heading oceanside for Paradise, she only had to pack inexpensive sundresses, sandals, and bathing suits.
“Before going to Paradise, I definitely was wishing I hadn’t got as much stuff as I had, because you don’t get paid,” she said. “After Paradise, I definitely felt more like there was a balance of how much I put in versus how much I was getting out — not only with my relationship, that was a positive experience, but also being able to make money.”