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Tooth Fairy inflation: Price of a tooth nears $4

NEW YORK — Days of finding a quarter under your pillow are long gone. The Tooth Fairy no longer leaves loose change.

Kids this year are getting an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, a 23 percent jump over last year's rate of $3. And that's a 42 percent spike from the $2.60 per tooth that the Tooth Fairy gave in 2011, according to a new survey by payment processor Visa Inc., released Friday with an update of the company's Tooth Fairy personal finance app.

Part of the reason for the sharp rise: Parents don't want their kids to be the ones at the playground who received the lowest amount.

"A kid who got a quarter would wonder why their tooth was worth less than the kid who got $5," says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University.

To avoid that, Brian and Brittany Klems asked friends and co-workers what they were giving their kids. The Klems, who have three daughters and live in Cincinnati, settled on giving their six-year-old daughter Ella $5 for the first tooth that fell out, and $1 for any others. They say that $5 was enough without going overboard. They didn't want other families to think they were giving too much.

Then Ella found out that one of her friends received $20 for a tooth.

"I told her that the Tooth Fairy has only so much money for every night, and that's how she decides to split up the money," says Brian Klems, 34, a parenting blogger and author of "Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters."

Confused about what to give?

Ask other parents what they're giving, says Jason Alderman, a senior director of financial education at Visa. That can at least get you in the ballpark of what your kids' friends are getting, he says. Alderman gave his two kids $1 a tooth.

"I think we were on the cheap side," he says. Other families gave about $5 a tooth. One family gave their kid an antique typewriter. "I have no idea how they got that to fit under the pillow," he laughs.

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