Chip and Joanna Gaines revealed a startling secret about their lives before “Fixer Upper” Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP
In this March 29, 2016 photo, Joanna Gaines, left, and Chip Gaines pose for a portrait in New York to promote their home improvement show, "Fixer Upper," on HGTV. (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Things haven’t always been so easy for Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Before they were reality stars on “Fixer Upper,” they were just barely getting by as small business owners.

“I remember when we first got married, the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket,” Joanna recalled in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “He always had a wad of cash, but we were broke. If I needed to go grocery shopping, it’s whatever was in his pocket. That’s how we paid the bills.”

Chip reportedly started flipping houses in college, but because business wasn’t booming, he faced a lot of questions from Joanna’s family after they married in 2003.

“Her dad spent the first two years of our marriage asking me if I was going to get a job,” Chip said. “I was like, ‘I have a job and I like it.’”

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Now, the couple lives a much more comfortable and successful lifestyle with a hit show on HGTV; a new book, The Magnolia Story, which comes out this month; and a quarterly magazine.

And they aren’t stopping there! Chip and Joanna also run their own retail store, Magnolia Market at the Silos; they launched a paint, rug, wallpaper and furniture line; and they have a real estate company.

With all of this success, the couple is still surprised to see how far they have come.

“All of this sort of fell into our laps,” Chip said. “We were just living our life out here in little bitty Waco. We had dreams and aspirations like most folks, but this has really been something else.”

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Nicole is a content editor with Rare. 
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