How does the Sister Wives’ Brown family make money?

TLC's Sister Wives and patriarch Kody Brown on Ellen

UPDATE! CLICK HERE to see The Brown Families businesses and projects in 2012!

Aside from the fact that they’re now getting money from TLC for their popular reality show that’s now into the second season and their fame no doubt has also given them other opportunities to make money via endorsements and such, one of the biggest questions about The Brown Family from Sister Wives is how they were able to feed and house a family of 21 people up until this point? Of course, rumors flew about abusing the welfare system, but there seems to be no real evidence of that.

Before Kody married his fourth wife Robyn Sullivan, he and Jenelle were bringing on the bacon, Christine was taking care of the kids, and Meri worked a low-wage job that allowed her to take care of herself and her one daughter (but she didn’t have to contribute to big things like mortgage payments.) Then Kody married Robyn, who had three kids. They moved to Lehi, and into an apartment that the family had to pay rent for, but she didn’t bring an income with her (no wtwoord on if her ex-husband is paying child support.)

As Kody describes their situation in the show, they’ve got a socialist set-up of sorts. They each contribute, and benefit from the set-up in varying ways, but in the end, it all seems to balance out. Or, at least it did before Robyn came into the mix after 16 years of their four-adult dynamic. The family had to shift to find a place for Robyn, just as all of their lives and finances were going through major changes because of the show. Soon money probably won’t be as big of an issue, and one could argue that the value Robyn brought to the table was giving the family a compelling story-line for their debut to the world. In this arena, Robyn’s youth and attractiveness doesn’t hurt either.

Kody’s job:

Kody’s job is still rather vague, and he’s probably transitioning more now toward his new company to handle his new entertainment career: Kody Brown Family Entertainment LLC, but the general consensus on Kody’s pre-fame career was advertising sales. Its hard to get a read on exactly how lucrative that work has been from him, but if the Browns have been getting by this far getting everyone fed, clothed, and housed in their giant compound, then he might be bringing in some serious bread.

Janelle’s job:

Janelle is the other major financial player in the Brown household. According to Hollywood Life, Janelle runs a company called E Z Pantry that’s listed under Janelle Brown & People Pantry Incorporated. E Z Pantry is in business to “provide, market, design, sell or trade in the food storage industry.” Again, it’s very possible (especially since Janelle’s is such a smart cookie) that this business is performing very well and making bank. It sounds like a strictly business-to-business endeavor, so she could be be performing very well and still stay low-key.

Christine’s job:

Christine is a full-time stay-at-home-mom and she loves it. She takes care of Janelle’s kids as well as her own (first wife Meri’s only daughter is already a teenager and almost ready to leave the nest,) stocks the pantry up with bulk buying and couponing. Christine is okay with the fact that she doesn’t bring in any income because she feels that she provides an extremely valuable service with childcare, and also picks up some of the slack through creative shopping that stretches the money the family does have farther.

She and Jenelle seem to have traditional domestic roles, with Jenelle actually enjoying something that most mothers in general never get to experience: she works all day and gets to come home to a clean house with the kids all fed, washed, and taken care of so she can just enjoy spending time with them, instead of worrying about more work and tasks to do.

Meri’s job:

Meri had a mysterious job that didn’t provide much income before she lost it after the family became famous last year. When she had the job, she used the money to pay for some of the small bills, and care for herself and her daughter. She doesn’t seem to be as intertwined in the family financial dynamic, and she doesn’t really need to be since there are only two people in her branch of the unit.

Robyn’s job: When Robyn first came into the family, Janelle was a little annoyed at getting a whole new four-person family to take care of. Robyn looked for work, but she contributed the most by helping out with childcare. This was a boon because Christine needed some time to recuperate after the birth of her newest daughter Truely.

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