Just how much do reality TV stars really earn?

Considering a gig on reality TV? Good for you. Surely the law of averages suggests that every Australian will end up on one at some point.

Whether you’re a chef/cook/home renovator/baker/overweight /survivor/crap at love/good at love/want to get married to a stranger/want to have a cheap wedding/want to date 25 others at once/want to sing on a stage or you’re a geek whose going to be turned into a beauty, there’s a show out there waiting for you.

Before you get swept too far into the Very Exciting Application Process, you might want to heed advice from those gone before you.

When our good mate and excellent podcaster Meshel Laurie shared a video of Block contestants Ben and Andy on Facebook saying this:

“Cuties. Here’s a bit of showbiz reality for you, these kids had to quit their jobs to do The Block, but only got paid during the actual filming, which finished months ago. It’s a very lean couple of months between the filming and the auction! That’s the reality of reality TV.”

School teachers Ben and Andy on The Block. Image via Channel 9

I was like, "Oh yeah! That's right".

The assumption is that people on TV earn a bajillion dollars. Ever since I watched Sara Marie do the bum dance on Big Brother and then release a range of bum-dancing merchandise, and Shannon Noll go from a guy with a flavour savour to a guy with a flavour savour driving a Big Black Shiny Car, I presumed the natural side effect of being on TV was that life rained with cash money.

But slowly, we've seen contestants say...ummmmm....

Am I getting rich off The Bachelor? HAHAHAHA! Image via Channel 10.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, contestants on The Bachelor get paid $90 a day. It's a bit less than we got when I was living life on The Great Australian Bakeoff. None of us were there for the money, we were there for the sugar and the giggles - which we got plenty of. But the unexpected side effect (besides the weight gain...oh Lord...the cake-induced weight gain), was the hit you take in the savings department.

A lot of the time, you have to leave your job to take up these shows. You often don't know how long you'll be gone for, and you can't tell your employer anyway because you've signed a non-disclosure agreement. And in an employment market that's increasingly casual, part-time, and non-permanent, that means when you say to your employers "Hey guys! I'm just going away for a bit on a super fun project! I don't know how long! It could be a few weeks or maybe a month and I can't tell you what it's for! Woo hoo!" chances are when you land back home and resume normal life, you don't have a super fun job anymore.

That's what happened to me. And I had a mortgage and a house and bills and other boring adult things that you don't think about while you're off baking pies and icing cakes.

Living large. Baking cakes etc. 

So when I got back, and my show was done but hadn't gone to air yet, I was in this weird limbo where I was trying to tell the bank "But...I swear to you....I have been away on a TV show......." and then trying to chase jobs where I'd have to say the same thing to blank faces.




I moved out of my house, back in with my parents, too proud to go on the dole because that would be admitting defeat. That would mean admitting I was a big fat cream pi... I mean failure. A big fat failure.

Listen to Monz's advice for reality tv contestants on The Binge:

We had Bachelor/Bachelorette alumni Sam Frost into Mamamia this week and she said (on a podcast yet to be released oooooh so secret) that she's quite good with money, so she had a bank of savings that she could just skive off while she waited for shows to air and life to resume.

But people like Chloe and Kelly Ramsay were blindsided too, saying MKR left them "fat and broke".

my kitchen rules
 Image via Channel 7 

I mean, I'm not saying don't do it. Look how happy I am here. I am so happy.  Maybe from all the chocolate.

Must be all the chocolate. 

But just beware.

No only will you have to deal with trolling, papparazzi, ratings that bomb, your instagram life splashed everywhere, and your internet history being scoured for any trace of personality, you might also find yourself paying for petrol in 20 cent pieces for a bit.

Listen to the full episode of The Binge below, and subscribe in iTunes