The Economy and The Tooth Fairy

What's the going rate for a tooth these days?


Despite the hard economic times we live in, The Tooth Fairy recently made a mistake at my house and left behind too much money when she swiped my son's tooth from under his pillow. He had unexpectedly lost said tooth earlier that evening as he brushed his teeth before bed.

I'll be honest, "she" wasn't prepared and only had a five-dollar bill in her wallet that night. Not wanting to crush the hopes of an innocent child, she left behind the large sum of money and fluttered away.

There was also a miscommunication between the Tooth Fairy and her husband and he unknowingly tucked an additional eight shiny quarters beneath my son's pillow while everyone else in the house slept peacefully.

The next morning, my son came running into the kitchen with his loot. "Seven dollars! The Tooth Fairy left me seven dollars!" he shouted. I nearly choked on my coffee. I quickly informed him that it was a horrible mistake and that he would never find that much money under his pillow again.

In the lingering economic challenges that our country faces, no parent in their right mind would divvy out that kind of cash for a single tooth. It made me wonder,what is the appropriate going rate for a tooth these days?

According to a 2011 survey conducted by Visa Inc., the typical child gets average of $2.60 per tooth, a 40 cent decrease from 2010’s $3 per tooth. Even with this cutback, the Tooth Fairy visits 90% of American children under the age of 12.

Additional findings in the survey include:

  • According to last year’s survey, only 6% of children did not receive money from the Tooth Fairy.
  • 7% of children receive less than a dollar.
  • 29% of children receive exactly $1. Last year’s survey showed that 37% of children received exactly $1.
  • 18% of children receive between $2 to $4.
  • 18% of children receive $5 as compared to 22% last year.

When I was a child, I could count on finding four shiny quarters per lost tooth. Since that was more than 30 years ago, I figure that inflation would bring the total up to at least three dollars a tooth.

Of course, money is tight. But I think a visit from The Tooth Fairy is a valuable right of passage and it's a great opportunity to open a discussion with children about money. To me, the memories are worth every pinched penny.

How much does your child earn per lost tooth? Has the economy made you cut back on how much money you leave under his or her pillow? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Leigh Hewett February 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM
This made me laugh!
Leigh Hewett February 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Be prepared for when your child starts comparing notes with the other kids on the playground. They do that, ya know?
Leigh Hewett February 22, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I like the idea of a nice apology note.
Erin Lashley February 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM
The tooth fairy tends to stop by the grandparents' house in our family too, and leaves $10 or a toy! That is not the same fairy that stopped by that house when those grandparents were raising me, I can tell you that.
Scarlet Buckley February 25, 2012 at 02:20 AM
$2.00, even steven. i hesitate to go any higher. We already give allowance each week, and I am very aware of our tightened budget. i will say that I remember getting a toy for a lost tooth. Boy, that was a good day!


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