Kids this year are getting an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, a 23 percent jump over last year's rate of $3 a tooth, according to a new survey by payment processor Visa Inc., released Friday. That's a 42 percent spike from the $2.60 per tooth that the Tooth Fairy gave in 2011.
Part of the reason for the sharp rise: Parents don't want their kids to be the ones at the playground who received the lowest amount.
"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 and professor at Golden Gate University.
To avoid that, Brian and Brittany Klems asked friends and co-workers what they were giving their kids. The Klems, who have three daughters and live in Cincinnati, settled on giving their 6-year-old daughter Ella $5 for the first tooth that fell out, and $1 for any others. They say that $5 was enough without going overboard. They didn't want other families to think they were giving too much.
Then Ella found out that one of her friends received $20 for a tooth.
"I told her that the Tooth Fairy has only so much money for every night, and that's how she decides to split up the money," says Brian Klems, 34, a parenting blogger and author of "Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters."
Confused about what to give?
Ask other parents what they're giving, says Jason Alderman, a senior director of financial education at Visa. That can at least get you in the ballpark of what your kids' friends are getting, he says. Alderman gave his two kids $1 a tooth.
"I think we we're on the cheap side," he says. Other families gave about $5 a tooth. One family gave their kid an antique typewriter. "I have no idea how they got that to fit under the pillow," he laughs.
Visa also has a downloadable Tooth Fairy Calculator app that will give you an idea of how much parents in your age group, income bracket and education level are giving their kids, says Alderman. The calculator is also available on the Facebook apps page.
How much kids are getting from the Tooth Fairy depends on where they live. Kids in the Northeast are getting the most, according to the Visa study, at $4.10 per tooth. In the west and south, kids received $3.70 and $3.60 per tooth, respectively. Midwestern kids received the least, at $3.30 a tooth.
Then there are the heavy hitters.
After losing her first tooth, 5-year-old Caroline Ries found a $100 bill under her pillow, along with a brand new My Little Pony toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste.
But there was a catch.
Her mother, Nina Ries, also left a note saying that the $100 had to go straight to Caroline's college fund. The Tooth Fairy would give her another $20 to spend anyway she likes if she brushes her teeth every day after lunch for a month. She did, and 30 days later Caroline found $20 under her pillow.
Ries, a 39-year-old lawyer and owner of Ries Law Group in Santa Monica, Calif., says that $120 is a lot to give, but she believes that she is teaching her daughter that education and taking care of your teeth is important. Ries says her friends give their kids about $20 a tooth.
That's way more than the $1 Ries used to get for losing her teeth as a child.
"It's incredible inflation," she says.
The Visa survey results are based on 3,000 phone interviews conducted in July.
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