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How much does Your Child Receive for a Tooth?

8 September 2013

Thirty years ago, a quarter seemed like a pretty fair find for leaving a tooth under your pillow at night. But now, you’d be surprised to know just how much parents (er, we mean the tooth fairy) are leaving, just for one tooth – as much as $100 in some cases! And even the norm seems to be closer to $20 than it does 25 cents.

Well, $20 may be a bit much for the norm. According to a new study done by Visa Inc., the average amount per tooth is actually a little closer to $3.70, still a fairly high jump from 2012’s average of $3, and even farther than the $2.60 kids were getting, on average, in 2011. And while this may still seem like it’s not going to break any parent’s bank, parents say that they’re willing to shell out a little more in order to save their child from feeling badly on the playground when they find out how much more their friends got for their tooth.

“A kid who got a quarter would wonder why their tooth was worth less than the kid who got $5,” says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University. But, some parents err on the side of caution, giving their child a little less for the specific reason that they don’t want to feel as though they’re pressuring other parents to cough up just as much.

And then there are the parents that get creative about it.

Lots of parents give the most amount of money – say $5 or even $20 – for the first tooth that falls out, and the tooth fairy drastically drops her chunk of change after that. She just doesn’t drop it under the pillow. Following teeth usually get about 1/5 of whatever the first tooth got.

One mother, Nina Reis, got creative with how much to give her daughter. When Caroline’s first tooth fell out, the tooth fairy was especially generous, leaving a $100 bill under her pillow along with a toothbrush and a fresh tube of toothpaste. But the tooth fairy also left a note. The $100 bill was to go straight into a college fund. If Caroline could brush her teeth every single day for a month using her new brush set, she’d then get $20 to spend any way she choose.

So how do you know what to give? Of course you don’t have to fork over a hundred bucks every time (or even the first time) but you also may not want to try getting away with leaving just a dime either. Instead, ask parents in your area what they’ve given and that will give you an idea as to how much parents in your area are giving (and yes, this is one case of things changing depending on where you live.)

Or, you could do what parents have been doing for ages and just give whatever you feel most comfortable with, based on what you can actually afford. After all, no one should go into debt just because children are getting their Big Kid teeth.

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