Tooth Fairy Inflation?! What’s that?

I’m sure we all remember losing our teeth as kids. Why? The reason I remember was the tooth fairy! Otherwise I think it would have been a non-event to me as a kid. Well, a non-event other than the fact it generally hurt, involved a little bit of blood and left that goofy hole in your gums you weren’t supposed to mess with but did anyway.

I think it was more the idea of the tooth fairy than the actual money I received. The reason why I believe this is because I honestly couldn’t remember how much money I got for each tooth. I seemed to remember getting change but I don’t think it was ever more than a couple quarters to maybe a dollar in change. 

What Made Me Think of Tooth Fairy Inflation?

The reason the thought of the tooth fairy suddenly came back to me with this article I saw over at CNBC. CNBC cited a survey by Visa that says the average amount left per tooth was now $3.00 which is 15% higher than last year. They even said that some kids get as much as $20 a tooth! Whoa… that’s quite a bit of coin to be leaving under the pillow. My guess is they just left a $20 bill though. I don’t know what these kids are doing with their newfound wealth ($3 to $20 is a lot for a kid… right?) but I remember putting my money into the savings account that helped me become a saver.

Most kids seem to lose their teeth between the ages of six and twelve from the best of my memory (which isn’t that great when it comes to things like this). That puts a good 10-20 years between when I lost my teeth and today. For simplicity sake I am going to pretend I received $1 per tooth 15 years ago. In the last 15 years (assuming I was average) the tooth fairy inflation rate has been 200%!

How does that compare to inflation in the United States? My $1.00 in 1997 would be worth $1.43 today in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation calculator. CPI based inflation was just a 43% increase versus the 200% tooth fairy inflation rate. Sounds like the tooth fairy has made some great investments that pay sick dividends!

Another Reason for Tooth Fairy Inflation? The Evil Joneses

The CNBC article states:

Unfortunately, teachers say, tooth inflation is all too common in elementary schools. Nobody wants to be the parent whose child is “the talk at recess,” because of a frugal Tooth Fairy, says Amy Moncarz, a second-grade teacher at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Discrepancies in tooth price can lead to a conversation parents might want to avoid: the existence of the Tooth Fairy itself.

It is sad but wouldn’t surprise me at all. In an effort to make sure your kids aren’t seen as social misfits at school it sounds like parents are giving in and giving their children more money to keep up with the tooth fairies of their peer’s. This wouldn’t be the lesson that I’d want to teach my kids… It is crazy to think kids learn about this stuff so early on, but I’m not a parent yet so what do I know about kids… I do understand inflation though!

So, do you have kids? What does the tooth fairy give them per tooth? What did you receive per tooth as a child? Do you think tooth fairy inflation is outrageous?

Like What You See?

Join the other readers who have signed up for our email newsletter! No spam, just periodic updates to help improve your finances!

About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Did you know there are now apps and web programs to tell you what the tooth fairy pays out in your area of the country? I wonder if that would change your inflation analysis.

    But I think it adds a weird aspect of keeping up with the joneses where it has no business.

    When I was a kid, I usually got a quarter, but remember other kids in my class getting $5. They were also the kids that got paid for earning average grades.

    • I’ve seen a ton of ads for these apps in my gmail since I posted this post… Can’t believe there is an app for that but I guess there is an app for everything!

  2. That’s crazy. I think the most I got was $1-but usually it was a quarter. (And I think the $1 was marked with a note “for this tooth and 3 more”–the tooth fairy apparently had no change) I think the most I would give is a $1 but honestly? I remember being thrilled to have a quarter.

  3. My kids are getting $2. I got $1 as a kid. Some of the kids in my wife’s class get as much as $5. $20 is unreal!

  4. My kids get around 2 a tooth. Sometimes three depending on what change is lying around the house that night. I used to get a quarter, but they could buy nothing these days with only a quarter. $2 doesn’t get much either mind you.

  5. No I don’t have kids, but I used to receive $1 per tooth. I can’t imagine giving them much more than $1 if I did have kids, at least they can get some candy at the store with that.

  6. I think I got a quarter. We haven’t decided if we’re going to give money to our son yet. I’ll have to look at the genesis of this $ for tooth tradition.

  7. Thanks Lance. I have a baby on the way next month and you just made me even more depressed about the cost haha 🙂

  8. The tooth fairy just visited our house for the first time this past weekend. My husband and I were out of town, so Grandma had to get in touch with her. My daughter actually lost her tooth on the soccer field. It was not found, but the tooth fairy also delivers for a written note. Tooth fairy brought $2. I was hoping for $1. Thanks Grandma!

  9. It has been a very long time since my children are in their thirties. I used to insist that my kids had to save 50% of any money earned or received. So inflation or not, they saved half of it.

  10. MB @ 12 Year Career says:

    I got $1/tooth. How bad is it, though, that when you mentioned the mini-Joneses at recess my first thought was “Well I’d just tell my kids to tell those little a-holes that the tooth fairy isn’t real.” I guess it’s a good thing that I’m not planning to start trying to have kids for a few more years…

  11. I think I got a quarter. Maybe every now and then $1, but I distinctly remember this little stuffed tooth with a small pocket on the front of it, just big enough to hold a quarter.

    I hadn’t really given any thought to how much I would give my future children, in fact, I haven’t thought about the tooth fairy in ages. Well, at least not since the South Park episode…

    If children start losing their teeth around 6, I’ve still got about 9-10 years before I’ll need to worry about it. Hopefully by then tooth fairy inflation will have settled down. 🙂

  12. I wouldn’t personally feel pressured. I’d come up with some sort of way to make it seem like the tooth fairy ran out of money or something.

  13. I used to get $1. My children will get $1…unless the tooth they are leaving is made out of gold.d

    This whole article reminds me of South Park and the Tooth Fairy episode, where the mob stole rich kids’ tooth fairy money.

  14. Jason Clayton | frugal habits says:

    Its due to the evil Federal Reserve and their endless printing press. I wonder what happens when hyper-inflation kicks in? We’ll be putting $10,000 under our kids pillows. 🙂

  15. $20 per tooth is some coin. Darn Joneses always ruin everything! Tell them to move!!! 🙂 My family never allowed us to believe in the tooth fairy; when gifts were given, they wanted all the credit!

  16. I used to get $1 a tooth and my dad recently told me they’ve been giving my little sisters $5/tooth! It’s absolutely crazy but with inflation I’d think it should only be around $2.

  17. Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    I never believed in the tooth fairy and my kinds won’t either. Lol @ Frugal Habits and the federal reserve, hahaha.

  18. We gave our kids a dollar, but it was a SILVER dollar coin….which made it WAY more valuable.

  19. I think we used to give our daughter 2 bucks. It was always tricky to get it under the pillow.

  20. I have a baby on the way so I haven’t bothered to think about the tooth fairy much yet, but wouldn’t it be interesting if your Tooth Fairy offered credit to your children, with a credit limit and terms of payment so that they could deposit money back under the pillow when it was time to pay back and you could teach them how loaners are trying to trap them into paying back money forever….. fun idea I think. I wish my kid was older!

Share Your Thoughts