When Jane MacPherson’s son lost the first of his milky-white baby teeth, the tooth fairy left $5 under the lad’s pillow.
Subsequent teeth, including baby tooth No. 5, which fell out this week, were rewarded with a toonie. For my friend, this childhood rite of passage was also an opportunity to give Callum, now 7, a lesson in personal finances.
“He is able to put the tooth fairy funds in his piggy bank for reckless spending - separate from the grandparent- and gift-money piggy banks,” Ms. MacPherson said.
That money, she added, winds up in the bank.
Money management experts say the Toronto mom is on the right track. The visit from the tooth fairy is great chance to talk to kids about money, and it's an opportunity that will come repeatedly as a child will lose about 20 primary teeth before their teen years.
“We find that parents are taking the time and they’re taking the time because they see the value in it,” said Melissa Cassar, a spokeswoman with Visa Canada, which offers financial education through its website.
Visa recently conducted its first tooth fairy survey of parents with children under the age of 13. The sample was small - just 196 people polled last month who are Angus Reid forum members - but the results are still instructive.
According to the poll, 87 per cent of parents said the tooth fairy visited their children, with the payout ranging between a loonie and $5 per tooth.
Five per cent said the per-tooth rate was between $6 and $10, and 4 per cent said the tooth fairy gave less than one dollar. While 2 per cent weren’t sure what the going rate for baby teeth was in their house, another 2 per cent reported a particularly generous tooth fairy that left behind anywhere from $41 to $100.
Ms. Cassar said no matter what the amount, the tooth fairy presents an opportunity to teach children about spending, saving and what money means.
“It is never too young because they’re also going to become smart very early,” she said, “You need to find teachable moments in everything you’re doing.”
As my friend’s son mugged for the camera with his ever expanding gap-toothed smile, he made one request of the tooth fairy.
“Dear tooth fairy,” he scribbled on a piece of paper, “Can I keep my tooth please? Thank you. Love Callum.”
Now, that’s something every parent can afford.