Tooth Fairy Inflation - Live Like a Mensch
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Tooth Fairy Inflation


Photo courtesy of Loadmaster, aka David R. Tribble


Despite the fact that LO is still several years away from losing his first baby tooth, I have nonetheless recently become quite concerned about what his expectations will be for me--that is, the de facto Tooth Fairy--once that time comes.

You see, the students I teach at our Synagogue's Hebrew School are all about 9 or 10, which is the tail end of the Tooth Fairy age spectrum. One lost a tooth in class recently, and I asked her how much her tooth was worth on today's market. I was stunned by her answer:


At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, back in my day in the mid-80s, teeth were worth a buck each. (I suppose I shook my head in wonder at the fact that my parents were only able to get a shiny quarter per tooth in the bad old 50s).

While I realize that a single dollar bill will not spend nearly as far these days as it did when I was a kid, I also think that there is such a thing as overvaluing basically useless items. (We never have discovered why the Tooth Fairy is interested in collecting all these teeth in the first place, have we? Obviously, used eye-teeth and incisors must have some utility for her, else she would never have started the tradition of paying cold hard cash for them. But I can't think of any legitimate uses for former chompers--can you?)

I suspect that I (and Ms. T. Fairy) will have to move with the times when LO's teeth start migrating away from his gums. I might find myself ponying up a fiver per tooth, just because leaving anything other than a single bill seems a little prosaic when the experience of trading teeth for money is supposed to have an aura of magic. (Really--can you imagine finding two dollars and two quarters under your pillow? It would be like the Tooth Fairy was trying to make change. Not to mention the added lumpiness factor to your pillow.)

But let me tell you, I'm never crossing the sawbuck Tooth Fairy threshhold. I don't care how steep tooth inflation gets.

Published Jan 10 2013, 03:43 PM by Emily Guy Birken
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frugal_fun said:

We give $1 at our house if it helps. ;)

January 14, 2013 2:41 PM

MyFriendJen said:

As with most frugality issues in life, you can save money with a little thought and pre-planning.  It has been important for me to have my kids be delighted by this sort of thing, so I have some tips to pass on to you.  

First, get a shoe box and put it up in a closet, out of sight and reach of your kids.  Next, go through your house and gather any small "treasures" that your kids won't recognize.  By this I mean things like charms, sea glass, cool rocks, some momentos from your own time as a kid, key chains, marbles, International coins...you get it now.  If you can't think of anything, go to a Dollar Tree type store and pick up a few items when your kids aren't looking, and then keep your eyes peeled for other trinkets you can add to the box.  A friend of mine went to Africa and brought back Porcupine Quills that I added to my box.  The ideas are endless, and can be cheap to free.  Put them all in the box so they are ready to go and are never seen by your child beforehand, as sometimes you don't get much warning when a tooth is going to fall out.  My 3 kids have run the gamut from leaving the teeth dangling by a thread for weeks to using the old trick of dental floss tied to a doorknob.  We have had a few fall out just before bedtime, and I thank my lucky stars for my shoe box of goodies up in my closet.  Ok, now this is the important part--next time you go to your bank teller, trade some boring old cash for some "golden" dollar coins.  James Madison, John Adams, Sacajawea, and James Garfield are a few faces to be found on these coins.  Ask for the shiny ones.  Also ask if they have any $2 bills to swap out with you.  

So now you have your box and you are all set and ready.  You will leave one or two golden coins or a $2 bill, and a trinket.  Even their friends from the 1st grade class who scored $20 bills will be envious of their special serendipitous finds under the pillow, trust me.  

There might be times you are tempted to throw down a Fiver, like when a tooth has to be pulled by the dentist or the Tooth Fairy falls asleep and forgets to deliver until the next day.  There will be temptation for you to beef up the treasures you leave on occasion, since kids are so darn cute, but take it easy.  You have to remember to pace yourself as well, since those little ones do have 20 deciduous teeth which will eventually come out.  They may "find out" about the Tooth Fairy, but I pride myself on my kids pretending to believe until the last molars fell out, simply because the treasures were so special and fun to receive.  Frugal often equals thoughtful, and that makes for some great memories.

January 16, 2013 3:28 PM

mhgeorge said:

We give a $2 bill for the first tooth and then "special" money that the kids wouldn't usually get (ie Sacagawea dollar or presidential dollar coin or even bicentenial quarter) for the rest of the teeth. I also kept each girls' tooth in a film canister labeled with their name hidden in a box marked "maternity" clothes. (no one ever thinks to look in there!) Some day I'll give them their own teeth back!

January 21, 2013 7:05 PM

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