Tooth Extortionist

Anne Kimball

Life on the Funny Farm

Fred was reading the news on his iPad the other night when he came across this little gem in USA Today.

And I learned that apparently the TF round these parts is a cheap skate.

For, according to the article,

"Kids found an average $3 per tooth under their pillows this year, up 15% from last year..." and "...some received as much as $20 per tooth".



In sidebar articles, there were even tips on teaching your children about savings and investment.

1) My kids were lucky if they got a dollar, forget three, and certainly never 20.  More often, it was whatever change we could scrape up out of the junk drawer, with little crumbs and twist-ties picked out of it before being hastily thrown under the pillow.

2) I don't believe I EVER, not once, turned the Tooth Fairy leavings into a discussion on investment. I have ill-prepared my children for the world, and they are sure to be cardboard box inhabiting vagrants when they grow up.  That's alright.  With any luck, one of their twenty dollar-a-tooth peers, educated in the principles of investment, will drop some change into their tin cup as they walk up Wall Street.  All my kids will have to do will be to pick the pocket lint and paperclips out of it.

3) I'm not sure what my ratio of nights-the-money-got-put-under-the-pillow-the-same-night-the-tooth-was-put-there to nights-the-money-was-completely-forgotten-about-and-I-had-to-cover-the-Tooth-Fairy's-ass-the-next-morning are, but let's suffice it to say it's a number I'm not particularly proud of.

Now, for me it's too late to reform. My kids are all teens and have bid their baby teeth goodbye. But for those of you out there who still tote around little gap-toothed urchins, the article spelled out some helpful advice for you.


It would seem there is, you guessed it,


an app for that...

To help parents calculate the going rate for teeth, Visa on Tuesday is launching an app for iPhone and iPad and a calculator on its Facebook page. The app uses the survey's data to determine the average payoff a child can expect based on a parent's gender, education, location, age and income. The app also shows how much the recommended dollar amount was worth when the parent was 8.
While the app aims to promote fiscal responsibility in kids, financial gurus say it may encourage parents to try to outdo one another. "The app would be a driver of tooth inflation, not a tracker," says Charles Green, CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates, a management consultant. "I would predict a psychological bidding game." 

"The app would be a driver of tooth inflation"

When I read that, I hoped against hope that a dental implement would magically appear in my hand so I could gouge my eyes out.

For if I live in a world in which I have to add "the potential for a tooth fairy app to drive tooth inflation" to my Parental What To Worry About List, which includes stranger danger, cyber safety, and lice prevention, well then just kill me now.

 And psychological bidding game? Am I supposed to be concerned that my kid might not get as much from the tooth fairy as the next kid? Is that couch material for the shrink when they grow up?

Trust me, trust me, if that's the worst damage I did to my kids, I will pat myself on the back, pour myself a drink, and congratulate myself on a job well done.

If those app inventors want to make something useful, they should come up with an app that finds better things to worry about than how much money to give a kid for a lost tooth.

That would be something I could get behind.

Image courtesy:


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.

Recent Posts by Anne Kimball