Living Like Queens: Luxury Spending of the Real Housewives

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Greg Hernandez/Flickr

When you star on a television show like one of the versions of the Real Housewives franchise, it can feel like appearances mean everything. Everything they say, do, drive and wear is subject to public scrutiny and results in waves of praise — or a landslide of criticism. As a result, no one should be surprised they dedicate so much time and resources to looking good.

As you watch the shows, have you ever wondered exactly how much they spend to support their lavish lifestyles? What exactly do they spend all that money on? Some purchases make perfect sense — we would all hire a maid if we could! — while other items are a bit extreme. Let’s take a look at the most common luxury expenses of the Real Housewives.

Designer Clothing

Clothes are a necessity for everyone, but most people don’t spend more on clothes in one month than they do on a brand new car — unless you’re a celebrity, of course. Clothing for special events is obviously important, but to the housewives, what they wear every single day is also critical.

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Photo Courtesy: Michael Larsen/Andrew Eccles/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

They need to be fashionable for every TV appearance and as well as for any public appearances. While it’s beyond extreme for a "regular" person, it’s not really shocking to hear that Erika Girardi admits to spending around $40,000 per month on clothes.

Extravagant Accessories

Part of an insane clothing budget obviously has to include shoes and accessories. Ladies love their shoes, and it’s safe to assume that Erika Girardi and the other Real Housewives stars have a bigger designer shoe collection than most women. Have you taken a look at their closets?

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Television/Flickr

As you can see from this picture of Erika with bling on each finger, they can never have too many accessories to glam up an outfit. Be it diamonds, gold, rubies or another type of jewelry, the housewives like to keep plenty of options on hand to match each outfit.

Flawless Hair

All the clothes, jewelry and shoes in the world don’t matter if your hair is a mess. That's why these stars pay someone to keep their hair looking flawless for every appearance they make. Unfortunately, the down side of superstardom is you can’t simply walk into a salon for some pampering.

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Photo Courtesy: Annette Brown/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

No worries! The stylists just go to them. Depending on the desired 'do, they pay at least $50 to $100 for pros to simply style their hair. (We can’t even imagine the cost of actual services like coloring, highlights and cuts.) These ladies have a lot of 'dos done, so they’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars each year.

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Professional Makeup

Perfect clothing and hair calls for some equally perfect makeup. Showing up on TV screens across America with no makeup is out of the question. With the grand clothes, shoes and accessories, the face needs some enhancements too.

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Photo Courtesy: Cindy Ord/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

While some of the housewives do their own makeup, others pay a makeup artist about $100 a pop to come to their homes and make them up for TV appearances. Most of them pay for this service for events, at the very least. Either way, this adds up to thousands or more for each of the housewives.

Gorgeous Homes

Is it any surprise that these ladies who are ready, willing and able to spend $40,000 per month on clothes and shoes are willing to throw down some serious cash for their homes? This picture is of the beautiful home Monique Samuels moved into with her family.

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Photo Courtesy: Washington Post/Getty Images

However, she isn’t the only one with a gorgeous and expensive home. Porsha Williams paid $1.15 million for her home. Bethenny Frankel paid $4.2 million for her apartment. Lisa Vanderpump actually downsized and still paid $10 million for her new spot.

Not-So-Gorgeous Property Taxes

Sometimes, beauty comes with pain. In the case of the housewives, property taxes are a very big pain. Even though the actual rate of property taxes for most of the ladies runs less than 2%, the total value of the homes makes that small percentage add up to quite a lot.

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Photo Courtesy: Giovanni Rufino/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Porsha Williams pays at least $13,000 per year, Bethenny Frankel pays about $80,000 and Lisa Vanderpump pays around $79,000. Over time, these ladies will pay so much in property taxes that they could almost buy their homes again.

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Gorgeous Home Decorations

For the average person, the cost of the home and the property taxes add up to more than could be paid in a lifetime. For the Real Housewives stars, those costs are just the start. Once they move in, they pour more money into making every detail look designer chic.

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Photo Courtesy: Washington Post/Getty Images

Spending $125,000 to put up wallpaper in one room seems crazy, but Stephanie Hollman had no problem doing it. Some housewives add expensive rugs and artwork in addition to incredible, state-of-the-art appliances. Most have no problem paying an average $1,500 consultation fee to meet with a designer, either.

Limitless Shopping

Let's just be honest: The stars of the various Real Housewives series have the funds to buy pretty much anything they want without giving it too much thought. In addition to their regular clothing, shoes and accessories, most of them love to shop for any number of other things they want.

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Photo Courtesy: DVSROSS/Flickr

$10,000 for a brand-new watch? No problem. $25,000 for a pair of sunglasses? Sure, why not? $18,000 for a spare designer purse? Hey, no sweat. Want to jump in a plane for a quick shopping trip to Paris or Dubai? Well, yeah, hop aboard! They can afford that too.

Expert Therapy

On those days that retail therapy doesn’t take care of the problem, the housewives like to make sure there is always a therapist available. After, just like the average person, these ladies deal with stress too. The difference is they’ve got the money to have a therapist on call.

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Photo Courtesy: Sylvain Gaboury/PMC

While the price of said therapists differs, depending on the area, it’s probably safe to assume that any therapy sessions run at least $100 per hour, probably much more for many of these cities. The cost goes up for any middle of the night calls, so you’re probably looking at thousands of dollars per year or more.

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Juicing

Being healthy is a good thing. Eating and drinking things that improve your body is never bad, but it can get expensive. While many people who have started juicing have learned to make their own at home, that isn’t necessarily true for celebrities.

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Photo Courtesy: Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

In fact, Kyle Richards orders her daily juice and has it delivered. The juice and delivery fee cost almost $20 per day. Even if she only does that every other day, it still adds up to almost $300 per month and $3,600 per year.

Expensive Cocktails

Alcohol is never cheap outside your home, but when the Real Housewives go out, they don’t exactly order the $7 house margaritas. In fact, the lowest-priced cocktail so far on a show cost $14. That may or may not seem like much to you, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind in relation to the price.

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Photo Courtesy: Bravo/Getty Images

First, consider how much these ladies drink once they get started. Second, as the lowest price on the show, you know that $14 is an exception. It’s easy to assume they spend thousands per year on booze — and that doesn’t even count the booze-filled dinner parties they host.

Spray Tans

Although they can definitely afford it, not all of these ladies have time to hang out on the beach to get a golden bronze tan. That means they have to keep their skin glowing another way. Spending time in a tanning bed is an option, but many choose to skip that as well — probably because of the risk of wrinkles and skin damage.

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Photo Courtesy: Evans Vestal Ward/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Instead, they drop at least $40 a pop for a spray tan. It's quick and efficient, although that cost can add up with frequent application. Just one spray tan a week adds up to $160 or more per month or at least $1,920 per year.

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Dental Work

Real Housewives stars also pay to keep those pearly whites both pearly and white. Insurance, of course, covers regular dental work like cleanings, extractions and so on. However, there are some elective procedures that these ladies deem necessary that insurance probably doesn’t cover.

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Photo Courtesy: BeautifulPlanningMarketing/Flickr

NeNe Leakes, for instance, paid around $7,000 for dental veneers. A few others have paid for similar procedures. If you were wondering just how these ladies keep their smiles so bright and brilliant, just remember that it probably didn’t come naturally — or cheap, for that matter.

Fancy Cars

You can’t have a beautiful house with a beater in the drive. Well, maybe you can, but the Real Housewives stars certainly cannot. Keeping up with appearances simply means too much to their ongoing success. They go all out with their fancy rides, usually zapping their bank accounts with a six-digit hit.

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Photo Courtesy: Eddy 1/Flickr

If you’ve watched the show at all, you’ve undoubtedly noticed some pretty amazing cars. Vicki Gunvalson drives a Maserati, and Lisa Rinna drives a Tesla Model S, for example. In this photo, you see Melissa Gorga in her beautiful Rolls Royce.

Limos

What do you do when you’re invited to a fancy party or event? Well, you order limo service, of course! That's what these ladies do, anyway, which is probably a good idea, considering the alcohol they typically consume at lavish events.

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Photo Courtesy: Evans Vestal Ward/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

So, how much does it cost to hire a limo service? Like everything else, the prices vary by location. However, you can expect to spend at least $300 for a simple ride to the location and back (plus tip). Considering these ladies attend a lot of events, the cost is likely thousands per year.

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Uber X

Sometimes the ladies driving themselves isn’t the answer, but hiring a fancy limo service isn’t quite right either. At times such as these, the Real Housewives stars do what everyone else does: They call for an Uber to take them from Point A to Point B.

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Photo Courtesy: John Amis/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Like hiring a limo, the cost of using a ride-sharing app varies by location and the distance the car takes you. You can pretty much bet, however, that they are using Uber’s Select or Black level service, which feature luxury cars and SUVs, and not plain-jane UberX.

Parking Costs

Are you wondering why these ladies would pay for a limo or a ride-share when they have such awesome cars in their driveways? There may be more than one reason, but it's a safe bet to assume that the insane costs of parking have something to do with it.

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Photo Courtesy: Wilford Harewood/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

While parking in Dallas can cost as low as $75 a month, that still adds up to $900 a year. Parking in Manhattan, on the other hand, runs more than $700 per month or $8,400 per year. Using Uber definitely saves some cash on parking.

Spectacular Events

Events are a regular thing with the housewives, and that includes hosting them. If you have ever hosted an event, you know that the price is determined by the details and what you choose. The simpler the event is, the lower the cost. When it comes to the housewives, they don’t like to do anything simple.

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Photo Courtesy: Darius Z Sankowski/Pixabay

Even their "small, private" parties run more than $1,000. When they open up the event to 200 of their closest friends, that price shoots through the roof. The more alcohol, food and entertainment they bring in, the higher the price climbs.

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Kids

You know if the ladies focus so much attention on keeping themselves looking good that they will do the same for their kiddos and grandkiddos. Of course, the clothes, shoes and accessories are on point, but these kids enjoy a lot of other perks too.

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Photo Courtesy: Erin Kelly/Flickr

That includes birthday parties that are so extravagant that most kids never dreamed of such a party. While most parents struggle a bit to buy their teen a car for their birthday, the Real Housewives splurge and go all out. $60,000 for a four-year-old's birthday party? Sure, why not? It’s just the price of four years of college tuition at some schools.

Extravagant Weddings

It's hard to get mad at a girl for wanting a beautiful wedding, especially since most little girls dream of it throughout their entire childhood. A wedding is a very special occasion, so splurging on one isn’t such a bad thing. Spending millions on it, though, might be pushing the spirit of that generosity.

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Photo Courtesy: Bravo/Courtesy

One of the housewives, LeeAnne Locken, spent about $4.5 million on her wedding. That's quite a price tag! Other housewives didn’t go that far, but they didn’t exactly keep it low either. Eva Marcille spent more than $350,000 on her wedding, which is still quite high.

Breathtaking Vacations

When most people plan a vacation, it often involves a beach in the summer or a ski resort in the winter. Sometimes, vacation ideas get a little farther outside the box, but few people get a chance to enjoy a lavish vacation like the Real Housewives experience several times a year.

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Photo Courtesy: NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Dubai is a favorite among a few of the ladies, and they stay in places where they typically pay more than $15,000 per night. Some enjoy vacationing in St. Bart's for anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 for the week. The pictured camel ride probably wasn’t cheap, either.

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Premier College Education

Most of the Real Housewives stars make sure to send their babies off to good — a.k.a. expensive — colleges. Denise Richards sent her daughter to the University of Southern California, which costs a whopping $72,273 per year. Noel de Lesseps' son went to art school for a little less.

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Photo Courtesy: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Ramona Singer's daughter attends the University of Virginia for more than $60,000 a year, and Teresa Giudice's daughter is attending Rutgers. These mommas are willing to pay big bucks to give their kids a quality education in hopes of securing them a very bright future.

Home Staff

If you add up all the time the housewives spend getting fixed up, showing up on TV, attending and hosting events, running companies, shopping and vacationing, is it any wonder that they need help maintaining their homes? If they can afford it, why wouldn't they? Most people would readily agree that household help is a worthy indulgence.

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Photo Courtesy: Nicole Wilder/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Each of the ladies has a different household staff, so figuring out how much each one spends is nearly impossible. However, a regular cleaning service charges at least $100 per hour to clean an average-size home, so we can assume the household staff costs a small fortune.

Kids' Staff

The ladies also employ nannies to help with small children and to shuffle them around to their various destinations. All working moms need help with their babies, so why wouldn't they need help too? Many people have an unhealthy opinion of this, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not something the average mom can afford.

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Photo Courtesy: Wilford Harewood/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

In truth, because they have help with childcare, they can better enjoy the time they spend with their children — without the fatigue and crankiness. It’s a nice perk to be able to turn time spent with kids into pure quality time.

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Gourmet Food at Home

Speaking of their home staff, some of the ladies employ personal chefs. Usually, these chefs are used for catering parties or even to make dinner at home for a private special occasion. However, some of the wives just hire personal chefs to cook all their meals on a whim.

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Photo Courtesy: Martin Philbey/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Regardless of when they hire someone to cook, the price isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Cooking a week's worth of dinners for a family of four could easily cost $600, and it can go up even more, depending on the chef and the menu.

Dining Out

Everyone loves to dine out from time to time. Sitting down in a nice restaurant and being served hot, delicious food instead of cooking it yourself is a lot like a vacation to some. However, moderation is the key when it comes to how often you dine out and how much you spend when you do.

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Photo Courtesy: Bravo/Getty Images

The Real Housewives stars seem to have missed that memo, though. Dining out is a common occurrence with these ladies — a very common one. To make it worse, their bills easily run an average of $50 to $150 — for one person.

Plastic Surgery

The housewives that have gotten plastic surgery don’t seem to have a problem copping to it. To them, they have a problem, all right — they don’t like the way they look. When you look at it that way, they do the logical thing — they set about fixing that problem. In their case, they pay a doctor to fix it for them.

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Photo Courtesy: CelebrityABC/Flickr

Both Kyle Richards and Melissa Gorga have had nose jobs, which cost around $5,000 each; Sonja Morgan has had liposuction, a $3,200 procedure; and others have had Botox. As most plastic surgery requires upkeep, they often end up paying for multiple procedures.

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Fitness Classes

Despite some opinions, the housewives don’t turn to the knife for every dislike they have of their bodies. Most of them also work out regularly. Some join different workout classes at their local gyms. For instance, Kyle Richards enjoys a spin class with a friend.

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Photo Courtesy: Bravo/Getty Images

In the picture, you see one Real Housewives star, Teresa Giudice, and her devoted hubby, Joe, enjoying some time at an outdoor yoga class. You will also see some of the housewives enjoying Pilates and spin classes. Most of them cost around $30 to $40 per class.

Personal Trainers

Of course, when the ladies don’t feel like going out, they sometimes bring the exercise to them. Kyle Richards may enjoy her spin class, but she also has a personal yoga instructor come to her home — sometimes twice a day. One session usually costs $100 to $150.

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Photo Courtesy: Heather Lindquist/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Of course, Kyle isn’t the only one willing to pay a personal trainer. Tamra Judge made her trainer a part of her regular routine, even more so when she was preparing for a fitness competition. A few others also prefer personal trainers at home to working out in public.

Fat Freezing Machines

Of course, if all the plastic surgery and working out just can’t seem to get the job done, there’s always another option for the wealthy: fat freezing. Yes, you read that right. Some days, housewives like Kyle Richards just need a little something extra.

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Photo Courtesy: Bill Ross/Bravo/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

On those days, it’s not uncommon for Kyle to spend up to $1,400 getting rid of fat through this non-invasive procedure. It seems a little scary, but there’s a chance it could replace liposuction for some people. It's apparent that Kyle is dedicated to looking good, no matter the cost.

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