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Question: Is Your Tooth Fairy Cheaping Out, or Overspending?

How much is this worth? (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

A survey conducted by credit card company Visa found that, on average, the Tooth Fairy gave kids $3 a tooth this year, which frankly floored me. I mean, really? Three bucks for a tooth?

The survey was conducted from July 13 to 17 through 2,000 telephone interviews with a random sample, ABC News reported. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points.

Visa even created a “Tooth Fairy Calculator” so you can see what children in “comparable” households are getting. The calculator is available online on Visa’s Practical Money Skills site, or (of course) as a free app. The calculator considers the parent’s state, gender, education, and income. It does not consider whether you have four kids who are all going to lose teeth, or whether teeth with cavities are worth as much as an intact tooth.

Where do I fit in with the calculator?

The calculator said I should be giving an even buck, which is, in fact, what our Tooth Fairy brings. That’s two dollars less than average, which means for every time one of my kids gets a dollar, some other lucky kid is getting a fiver. Of course, with four kids age six to eleven, teeth are dropping left and right in this house. I mean, it’s constant. I know they each only have a grand total of 20 baby teeth (80 baby teeth for our household) but it seems like at least 500 teeth were lost this summer alone.

Interestingly, I played around with the Tooth Fairy Calculator, and it doesn’t seem to matter what our income is; for Pennsylvania it seemed to always be a buck. I guess I either live in a “financially prudent” state or a “so cheap I can squeeze a nickel ’til the buffalo poops” state, depending on how you look at it. The calculator seemed to think that if I lived in Kansas, I’d be forking over the $3. I find that hard to believe, only because I have friends that live in Kansas, and no way they’re handing over three bucks for a tooth.

The real question is, if so many people are giving a dollar, who’s giving the big bucks?

Tooth Fairy traditions fascinate me. Every family seems to have their own spin on things: I have friends who give a dollar for perfect teeth but 50 cents for teeth with cavities. Some friends have fancy little boxes for teeth, some still go by the old-school method of just leaving the tooth under the pillow.

In our house, the kids leave their tooth on top of my coffee maker. Purportedly this is so “the cats don’t get at it” but really it’s because, unfortunately, our Tooth Fairy has massive ADHD, and by the time bedtime rolls around, her Adderall has worn off. After a couple times of explaining that sometimes the Tooth Fairy has emergencies and can’t make it to every house, we changed to this new special place. This way, when the Tooth Fairy wakes up and heads immediately for the coffee maker, she sees the tooth and remembers to scrounge for quarters.

The other weird thing in this house is that I’ve had the “conversation” about the  Tooth Fairy with my older two and with my youngest, but not with my middle kid. I’m not sure if she really believes or not, but she’s never asked. My youngest asked before he even lost his first tooth. I told him the truth because he was totally freaked out by the idea of a tiny little creature creeping around in our house at night.

The only other tradition we have is our explanation of what happens to the teeth. When our oldest daughters were six and losing their first teeth, they asked us what the Tooth Fairy does with the teeth. Without missing a beat, my husband deadpanned:

“She gives you a little bit of money, but then sells them at a higher price to dentists to make false teeth for old people. It’s really a profit deal for the Tooth Fairy.”

Nothing like jamming an economics lesson into your family traditions, right? I mean, the idea of a business-savvy Tooth Fairy is kinda appealing. Although let’s not get into the whole Easter Bunny-Ponzi Scheme situation, okay?

I’m dying to know: How much does the Tooth Fairy bring to your kids? Do you have any cool Tooth Fairy traditions? Let me know in the comments!

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