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Here's economic news with teeth -- Tooth Fairy is more generous, survey says

Here's economic news with teeth -- Tooth Fairy is more generous, survey says
NBC News
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Friday, August 30, 2013 - 3:12pm

Economists might not like how quickly the economy has or has not rebounded from the recession, but if the country is still struggling financially, someone forgot to tell the Tooth Fairy.

American children are receiving an average of $3.70 per lost tooth this year -- up 23% from last year's $3, an annual survey said.

Visa Inc.'s annual survey, based on 3,000 telephone interviews, reported that 90% of U.S. households will be receiving a visit from the Tooth Fairy this year.

The fairy was most generous to children in the Northeast, who earned an average of $4.10 per tooth. In the Midwest, children received $3.30 per tooth; and the South and West fell in the middle, at $3.60 and $3.70, respectively.

Male tooth fairies leave more than female, and in 36% of households, tooth fairies left less than a dollar.

Families with a household income of $40,000 to $45,000 gave more than any other income group.

Jason Alderman, senior director of global financial education for Visa Inc., said the reason for that might be that it's an "area where parents can feel like they can be generous."

While the study isn't necessarily proof of out-of-control inflation, Alderman said the study, inspired by his daughter, will hopefully inspire other parents to give their children a financial education.

"My daughter had zero interest in money," he said. "Money management wasn't interesting to her."

But, he said, she was transfixed by the idea of the Tooth Fairy leaving something behind when she finally lost a tooth.

Alderman saw this as an opportunity for a "teachable moment."

"Parents can then talk to their kids about how they plan to spend their money. They can use real money to talk about saving and giving," he said.

That's a great idea, unless, of course, you give your child an antique typewriter. That's exactly what Alderman said one of his son's classmates received for a lost tooth.

"I'm still not sure how you fit a typewriter under a pillow," he said.

While elaborate gifts are the exception, 6% in the survey said the Tooth Fairy left $20 or more; 2% said she left $50.

With such a wide spectrum, parents of children losing their first teeth might find it hard deciding what the Tooth Fairy should give.

"Nobody wants to be the cheapskate; no one wants to give too much," Alderman said.

For those parents, he said, Visa created an app that allows people to enter demographics information -- like household income and age -- to give a better idea of what tooth fairies who live like them are giving.

Alderman said he's always given his kids a dollar for their lost teeth, which seemed to be the standard in the neighborhood (minus the typewriter, of course).

"No one wants to be the parent their kid is talking about on the playground," he said.


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