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Sign of the Times: Even the Tooth Fairy Is Cutting Back

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The going rate for a lost tooth is down 40 cents from last year.

Turns out nothing is safe in this economy, not even the Tooth Fairy.

The Denver Post reports that kids swapping their fallen teeth for cash are netting an average of 40 cents less than what they were getting a year ago. The going rate for a lost tooth is $2.60, down from $3, according to a nationwide Visa poll conducted earlier this month.

In other words, the fairy's gotten thrifty.

Rates vary across the country, with the lowest average payout in the East. There, children can expect about $2.10, down 38 percent from $3.40 last year. In the South it's 2.60, down from $3.30, and in the Midwest it's $2.80, down just 10 cents from $2.90.

The only region where Tooth Fairy's budget increased was the West, where averages increased from $2.70 to $2.80.

And apparently all teeth are not created equal — according to the Post, molars and front teeth seem to be worth more.

Other findings from the study: 10 percent of children receive no money from the Tooth Fairy, up from 6 percent the year before; 7 percent receive less than one dollar; 29 percent receive $1; 18 percent receive between $2 and $4; and 18 percent receive $5, down from 22 percent last year.

Jason Alderman, Visa's senior director of financial education, said the poll is a good way to start teaching children about finance.

"The survey gives parents the opportunity to start talking with kids — even pretty little ones — about money management," Alderman said. "What we have gotten from the Tooth Fairy is seared in our brains. ... You probably don't remember the check that Aunt Edna sent you for your birthday, but you remember how much the Tooth Fairy left you."

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