In Which My Son Loses His First Tooth, And I Freak Out Trying To Figure Out The Going Rate of The Tooth Fairy

According to my 5 y/o, the last two weeks have been the best of his life :)

First, he learns of the epic phrase, “Liar liar pants on fire” and cannot get over at how hilarious it is (if only it were true too! The entire DC area here would be a huge ball of flames!), and then this week he loses his very first tooth which of course meant, THE TOOTH FAIRY IS COMING!!!! OMG!!!!!!!! Make way, make way!!

Never in my life have I ever seen someone so excited to lose a tooth, haha… And it was a front one too! Biggest smile in the world on that guy’s face, wow… the little things.

And of course within seconds he was rattling off all the things he might be getting from Miss TF (Is the Tooth Fairy married or single? She does travel the world every night and never in one place for very long… I bet it would take someone like Peter Pan to put a ring on that finger, haha…)

“Chocolate bars! I want chocolate bars like Joseph got!”

“Chocolate Bars? The Tooth Fairy does NOT give out chocolate bars – they are so bad for your teeth!” – my wife quips back.

“Okay, maybe $10.00 like Sarah got!”

“$10.00??? What do you think we are – made of money??” – I blurt out, turning into an old man right there on the spot.

“I’m not talking about you dad, I’m talking about the Tooth Fairy!”

“oh yes yes, of course.. *ahem*”

“Okay, then how about $100?!!!!!”


It dawned on me that half the fun was just guessing for hours what the Tooth Fairy would bring ;) I could have brought him a bag of peanuts that night and he probably would have been happy, haha…

But sadly we didn’t have any bags of peanuts laying around, and I started to freak out a little because not only was it his FIRST tooth experience – setting the stage for all subsequent visits – but I was also completely oblivious as to what the going rate even IS these days with kids? Surely inflation hasn’t moved the bar from $1.00 a tooth when I was growing up to $10.00 like little Sarah gets, right? And even so, I didn’t have anything more than a $5 bill in my pockets anyways… TF snuck up super fast and you only have a very tiny window to fulfill her obligations when those teeth come out! That very night!

And then it dawned on me – $2.00 bills!!! YES!!!!

You used to stash hundreds of those away back in the day when you were trying to bring Tommys back, J$, now’s your time to shine, baby!!! He will love it!! But oh $hit – you gave them all away trying to be Mr. Tip Man this year, and it’s too late now to hit up the bank, womp womp…

two dollar baller

Ooh how about a half dollar?

Super big and cool unlike normal coins, and this one here is MADE WITH SILVER so it’s actually worth $6.00 in melt, and maybe $10.00-$12.00 on the collector’s market! Would he appreciate that??

1964 half dollar

Or how about a $1.00 Silver Certificate?

You used to be able to take these to the bank and get silver for them back in the day! And look how close to a normal dollar bill it looks? If you’re not paying attention it may even be confused for one… oh wait.

one dollar silver certificate

Okay, I got it! My dollar bill ring circa 1997!!

Ain’t NO kid is getting one of these puppies from the Tooth Fairy, haha… But would it be too creative?

one dollar bill ring

After hours and hours of agonizing, (okay, really only minutes), the wife and I finally came up with the answer. We’d combine a couple of these for this first tooth only, but then make sure he knows he’ll only be getting one thing going forward so it doesn’t spiral out of control here…

What we ended up giving him was a 1-2 punch of the big huge half dollar since we know how much he loves coins, and then the fun dollar bill ring too, because he fancies himself jewelry more than any other kid I know. Especially boys.

But the kicker was the note that my wife was creative enough to think up last minute:

Dear J. Jr,

Congratulations on losing your first tooth!

I heard you like jewelry… here is a special ring :)

And a little something extra, too! Keep brushing the rest of your teeth!


The Tooth Fairy

Want to take a guess what he liked the most out of everything? The handwritten note :) He carried it around all morning and it was the first thing he showed the entire family as we awoke from his loud shrieks, haha…

Just another lesson that all kids want at the end of the day is to be paid attention to!

tooth fairy presents

As for what the going rate IS these days? Well, I wasn’t quick enough to poll my Twitter audience on this fateful night here, but I was able to hit them up yesterday in preparation of this post, and their answers were as varied as they were creative :)

  • $1 per year old – Benjamin Brandt CFP®
  • We do $1 Sacajawea coins. Daughters love them they are “gold” – Mike Hayes‏
  • $1 a tooth…. $5 for teeth pulled by dentist to get ready for orthodontist. – Christina Brown
  • We do $5 per tooth, except when the first front tooth falls out. For that we shell out a $10 spot. – Marianne Hayes‏
  • First tooth gets $5, all others get a $2 bill. Then we have to convince them it’s real money. – Megan (Crabb) Troyer
  • We gave $5 for first tooth, then $1 after that. Very recent (last few years). Also gave a $1 bonus if daughter pulled it out herself. Totally worth the extra buck!!! – Mr. MSW!
  • We did $5 for the first tooth and the front teeth. The smaller back teeth get $2, and my daughter has called out the tooth fairy for being cheap. We told her the “tooth fairy” operates on a budget also. – Nate
  • The payout should be directly related to the health of the tooth. A nice white clean well-brushed one = $5; a dingy brown one that hasn’t been properly taken care of = $.25. – EarlyRetirementDude
  • €5 for first tooth. €2 each for next 3 teeth. After that no money, just a thank you note. – Emma Ryan
  • Depends. Did they pull the tooth themselves or did I have to do it? If I have to do it, I’m the one to be paid! – Financial Muse
  • I got $40 from the bank recently in Sacagewea coins and glittered them up with nail polish to cover the two already-born kid’s mouths! – Jennifer
  • 2 bitcoins – Accidental FIRE  (<– lucky kid!!)

So it seems $5.00/tooth is now the industry average, up from $1.00 a tooth when I was growing up, and $0.25 for those slightly older than I ;) And just goes to show that ain’t nothing is immune to inflation – not even the (single) Tooth Fairy!

But at least this isn’t the case… yet:

tooth fairy experiment

PS: How cute is that little tin featured in some of the pics above?? My son made it during summer camp last year – such a good idea!!

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  1. Prudence Debtfree December 13, 2017 at 5:19 AM

    Ah, that’s a sweet stage of life! Enjoy it! (It sounds like you are : ) I’m afraid the tooth fairy for our kids ended up being a bit cheap relative to the $5 you say is now the average. They got $2 per tooth, and despite the fact our youngest is 10 years younger than her oldest sister, there was no adjustment for inflation. But nobody seemed to mind. I really like the note your wife wrote. Brilliant!

    1. J. Money December 13, 2017 at 9:31 AM

      I think $2.00 is perfectly fine and fair. It’s all better than $0.00 :)

    2. TJ December 14, 2017 at 11:09 PM

      We do two ‘magic’ $1 gold coins, which she can cash in for a small ‘blind bag’ or ‘lol’ doll or small trinket or ice cream treat/cookie after school for each. Seems to work.

      1. J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:16 AM

        I bet!! Kids LOVE the mystery of what they’re getting, so you’re just amplifying it even more here! Haha… It’s brilliant!

  2. Accidental Fire December 13, 2017 at 5:24 AM

    I’m sticking with my Bitcoin suggestion, but the two dollar bill suggestion is great. When I was minimalizing my house this year I found 4 of them stashed away and decided it was silly to keep them so I took them to the bank to exchange. The early-20’s bank teller literally had never seen one! She was a relatively new bank teller and had to call over her boss just to make sure it was all kosher.

    I left feeling old….

    1. Mike @ Balanced Dividends December 13, 2017 at 8:44 AM

      I like your Bitcoin suggestion!

      Regarding the two dollar bills, I first thought you were talking about finding 4 teeth and taking them to the bank :) I need to wake-up.

      1. J. Money December 13, 2017 at 9:34 AM

        (and what would have been funnier is if the teller didn’t know what THOSE were either ;))

  3. Budget on a Stick December 13, 2017 at 5:24 AM

    What a great idea to include a note! I’ll need to remember that in 2 years (ok I’ll tell my wife… she’ll remember).

    I like the concept of save/spend/share piggy banks so maybe we will do $3 so they can easily drop each buck into the different section. Knowing my kids they will pull an experiment on the tooth fairy like Emily Ellsworth’s

    I don’t remember how much I got when I was a kid but my parents had us put the tooth under a cup in the kitchen (talk about making it easy on themselves!)

    1. J. Money December 13, 2017 at 9:35 AM

      GREAT IDEA on the save/spend/share!! Although probably more so about money in general than fun freebies from like the Tooth Fairy, haha.. Those should be nice and splurge worthy ;)

  4. Ms99to1percent December 13, 2017 at 5:55 AM

    Didn’t get anything growing up, so not sure what we will be giving Baby99to1percent. But I like ERD’s idea of paying based on the quality of the tooth

  5. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance December 13, 2017 at 6:18 AM

    Aww that’s super cute! Of love the handwritten note too.

    I didn’t growing up knowing the Tooth Fairy and didn’t get any money from losing my baby teeth. I think I might implement a $0 rate for Baby DAD’s teeth.

  6. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance December 13, 2017 at 6:38 AM

    You may want to be careful with the unique and amazing tooth fairy gifts. I hear you have another on the way who may expect the same gifts from her!

    1. J. Money December 13, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      Haha, that’s a risk I’m willing to take!

  7. Jacq December 13, 2017 at 6:57 AM

    I had an on going correspondence with my tooth fairy.
    I typically got coins, $1 or half dollars. Maybe a $2 bill?
    Luckily there are you tube videos on folding money as your next 2 kids get to their first lost teeth. I looked some up due to a $20 secret santa limit, with Friday the gift exchange and names were finally pulled Monday afternoon.

    1. J. Money December 13, 2017 at 9:37 AM

      Oh nice! Yeah it has been a good 15-20 years since I first made that ring so the youtube videos would def. come in handy :)

  8. Leo T. Ly December 13, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    My daughter lost her first two teeth a couple of months ago and now my son wants to lose his teeth too so that the tooth fairy will come to give him a present.

    I honestly don’t know what to give to my kids as the tooth fairy was new to me and I was not aware of her when I was a kid. I am thinking of giving my son a book as he loves books. He likes coins too, but I think the book will have a lasting effect as he will read the book often and it will remind him of the tooth fairy.

    My wife is definitely going to add a not to it.

    1. J. Money December 13, 2017 at 9:38 AM

      Books are good too :) I feel like you could really just give them *anything* and they’ll think it’s special because it came from the Tooth Fairy. It’s just the magic of it all, at least until they get older and actually DO start caring haha…

  9. Martinus December 13, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    Thanks for sharing this life event. Those days are so far in the rear view mirror for me that I forget just how exciting they were. I think (40 years ago) I got a dime when I lost a tooth. My kids got a “Loonie” or a “Toonie” (that’s a one dollar and two dollar coin respectively here in the great white north – 15 inches of snow last night). I think the tooth fairy up here is opposed to giving out “folding money”: it’s gotta be a coin.

    J. Money: if you think your son would enjoy a Canadian coin let me know and I will send you one.

    1. Martinus December 13, 2017 at 8:06 AM

      Sorry, correction, it was 50 years ago (not 40) when the tooth fairy visited me. Shovelling show this morning has obviously affected my ability to count!

    2. Kris December 13, 2017 at 10:04 AM

      Oh good, I’m not the only around one who’s that old! I got a dime, too.

      I was talking to my husband the other day about doing an Advent Calendar for our grandson next year – I was reminiscing about how COOL it was when I was a kid to unwrap a QUARTER one morning!

      1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:06 AM

        A DIME – hah!! Those were the days! :)

        We’re doing advent calendars too and the kids go gaga over them haha… doesn’t take much to entertain them – if only us adults were the same!

        @Martinus – as a coin collector I’ve made sure my kids are aware of y’alls beautiful coins up north and have gifted them some over the years, but it is awfully sweet of you to offer :) Stay warm up there!!

  10. Lisa O December 13, 2017 at 9:10 AM

    Awh, the innocents of a child is priceless! I always gave $5 for each front tooth and $1 for all others. I think I might have been in the group that got coins under the pillow….no box…no note! Don’t kids just have it all now!

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:07 AM

      Haha… pretty much :)

  11. Lindy December 13, 2017 at 9:25 AM

    My husband has been saving $2 bills for ages now and we decided a while back they would come from the tooth fairy. I’m glad to see this is still a viable option as we will probably be there in the next 6 months!

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:06 AM

      You guys are on it!

  12. OMGF December 13, 2017 at 10:30 AM

    If my parents are alive when my teeth start falling out in old age, do I still get visits from the tooth fairy? Or is only the loss of the first set of teeth celebrated? Just curious.

    Congrats to J Jr. I hope he sports his gaps proudly. And your wife’s note game is spot on. I almost want her to leave one for me too.

  13. Mrs. Picky Pincher December 13, 2017 at 10:35 AM

    How cute! I would refer to the tooth fairy as Ms. (Mizz) Tooth Fairy for a modern feminist address. :)

    Ms. TF was quite generous with me! I got $3 – $8 per tooth. If I lost a silver tooth (I had a lot of cavities), I made about $10.

    Also, she sprinkled magic glitter on notes to me, which I loved.

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:08 AM

      Oooooh I’m liking the glitter move!!

      My boy is OBSESSED with anything sparkly and pink, so we will most definitely be stealing that idea from you!!

  14. SAHM4NOW December 13, 2017 at 11:03 AM

    What great ideas. My kids are past this, but I remember the panic the first time…

    1st tooth a DVD (do kids even know what those are???) rest of the teeth $1.
    Those pulled by the Dentist–Another DVD…

    High School Musical was big in our house :)

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:09 AM

      DVD??? Haha..

      Okay, that is a first :) But yes to High School Musical!

  15. C@thesingledollar December 13, 2017 at 11:32 AM

    Foreign money would be cool — a pound coin, a Euro….

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:10 AM

      Totally! Every time I come back from my coin club they ask me “what I brought them” and I always try to find a new coin from a new country for them ;) Either that or cookies from our snack table – hah.

  16. Linda at Brooklyn Bread December 13, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    Between the elf on the shelf and the tooth fairy, I really feel like I am living in a house of lies that could come crashing down at any moment. $5 is our going rate but I LOVE the $2 bill idea! My younger son is 5 going on 6 and I am just now noticing that he hasn’t lost a tooth yet. Poor second child. Meanwhile, my older son instructed me to draft a note to the tooth fairy when he lost his first tooth explaining that he really wanted to get a gift from her, but, so sorry, he also wished to save his first tooth. Can you imagine the gall? We actually still have his first tooth, enshrined in some sort of little metal box on a chain hanging somewhere in his room. Kids, they’re such hoarders.

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:16 AM

      Haha yeah they are!

      And funny you mention the house of lies – was just talking to a friend last night about tooth fairies, and he mentioned that his wife didn’t want anyone growing up to feel lied to so they told them the truth about alll the usual suspects (Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc), only now whenever the kids are around other kids they go telling the rest that none of them are real :(

  17. My Money Adventures December 13, 2017 at 11:45 AM

    The prices have definitely gone up in expectations! And each year after they expect more. ;)
    What a great gift the tooth fairy left.
    I have never seen the $1 silver certificate. that is awesome.
    i remember the Sacagawea coin dollars because there were many times where they were they were almost mixed up as quarters. But they were pretty cool when they were in use.

  18. Lily @ The Frugal Gene December 13, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    He made the tin??? Really??!! I thought you guys brought it for a tooth losing occasion hahaha.

    I have a bunch of those $2 bills too. They’re kept in nice mint condition in the family photo album x)

    A guy I knew slept outside of his parents bedroom door on Christmas because if his parents didn’t leave their room and there’s presents under the tree = Santa is real. He said his dad almost stepped on him and he screamed “BUSTED” lol!!!! Pretty good for a 5 year old.

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:38 AM

      AGHHH!!!! That is too sneaky!!!!! :)

  19. Kim December 13, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    We did the lego mini figure surprise packs for the first couple of teeth then $5 a tooth as they got older. But the grossest gift was finding the creepy ziplock bags full of the boys’ teeth in my husband’s drawer when we were packing to move last spring. We showed it to the boys who are now teens and they were both creeped out and mesmerized by their tiny dried out disgusting teeth!

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:39 AM

      Ah hahahaha…

      You should mail them one each year on their birthday :)

  20. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life December 13, 2017 at 1:05 PM

    I haven’t thought about the Tooth Fairy yet we’re still trying to figure out if we are going to do Santa! But I don’t remember how much, if anything, we got for our teeth. I seem to remember putting at least one tooth under a pillow but I think that was about it? JB may get three quarters per tooth … :D

  21. Mr. SSC December 13, 2017 at 3:14 PM

    For our oldests first tooth lost, I think we may have stuck with a $5, BUT Mrs. SSC had the genius idea to make it into some origami. Creative right? She folded up an origami frog and it was left in his tooth fairy tin, similar to yours, and when he got up the next morning, he came running into the living room yelling, “The tooth fairy came! The tooth fairy came! And look, (as he’s uncrumpling the frog) she left me $5!” He was waving around a now unfolded $5 bill, lol. Mrs. SSC just gave me this deadpan, “why try?” sort of look because he didn’t even notice it was origami anything. We’ll go $1 or maybe $2 bill for each tooth after that. Which reminds me, he had one loosening up recently. Time to go to the bank!

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:42 AM

      Sounds about right :)

  22. the Budget Epicurean December 13, 2017 at 3:18 PM

    A special note for the first one is such a cute idea! That is so sweet that it was the part that meant the most to him. Also the tin is a great idea, and the little map on the inside is a great way to keep track of which teeth have been lost and which are left.

  23. Laura December 13, 2017 at 4:38 PM

    Great! The half-dollar and ring were a great idea! In the past, we’ve done various things, including $1 + 1 of each coin for first tooth, then $1/tooth after, or a silver dollar.

    We have had the TF forget some nights, so blaming the weather comes in handy (blizzard in the Rockies! Typhoon in the South Pacific!, etc). Then after they saw some of the Santa Clause movies (where TF was an older guy), we started signing the notes w/ silly tooth-fairy helper names like Edwina, Fred, Melvin, Bertha, etc.

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:43 AM

      Oh man you are good, haha… I am loving all of this :)

  24. Jenn December 13, 2017 at 7:43 PM

    Since we love to travel, our tooth fairy leaves foreign money. Our son was thrilled to get 10,000 Brazilian real! Too bad they no longer use that currency. :) Anyway, the tooth fairy usually leaves a note explaining where she has been and why she didn’t have time to exchange currency. My son is able to build his coin collection and learn some geography as he loses teeth. I love the dollar ring..that is so cool!

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:44 AM


  25. Heather December 13, 2017 at 8:53 PM

    Tooth Fairy inflation is nuts. We went with Sacajawea coins for both of our kids.

  26. ZJ Thorne December 13, 2017 at 9:54 PM

    It’s adorable how much he loves his note. We were broke growing up and were not visited by the tooth fairy. A cute note sounds lovely.

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:44 AM

      Awww that breaks my heart :(

  27. Caroline December 13, 2017 at 10:21 PM

    We didn’t have a specific amount , it was always coins and never above $5. I would say the average was around $2. The worse thing we ever did, is to forget to leave the money two nights in a row, for our third child. Not our best parent moment! I love the note idea, wish I thought about that.

    1. J. Money December 14, 2017 at 6:45 AM

      I bet you were in sooooooo much trouble, haha…

  28. Mr. Tako December 15, 2017 at 1:08 AM

    I remember when the tooth fairy came to visit when I was a kid — I usually ended up getting whatever spare change my dad had in his pocket the night before. Usually less than a dollar. I guess inflation affects the tooth fairy too.

    My kids haven’t lost any teeth yet, but I’m definitely bookmarking this post for review when they finally do.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:17 AM

      You’ll have to let me know how it turns out, sir :)

  29. Libby December 17, 2017 at 9:03 AM

    Whatever you decide, you might want to keep a stash in the house so you are always prepared to be the TF.

    Congrats on another parenting milestone :)

    BTW – keep the TF notes and notes from Santa if you can. They are precious when the kids are grown.

    1. J. Money December 18, 2017 at 3:09 PM


      (On both accounts :))

  30. J December 17, 2017 at 10:18 PM

    I know this a money blog and all…but perhaps if you’re freaking out about said toothfairy money then maybe approaching it more creatively might help…or inspire others!

    Pam and Randy are friends of mine and they’ve raised some amazing kids thus far. it doesn’t have to be about money.

    1. J. Money December 18, 2017 at 3:12 PM

      hey, are you saying my dollar bill ring wasn’t creative? I thought I was clever on that one! ;)

      But YES – great article haha… I’m actually staring back at a jar full of shark’s teeth right now on my mantle – totally could have dumped some of those under his pillow! :)