My first visit from the Tooth Fairy is my first specific memory of holding money in my hand. I ran to my parents bedroom excitedly exclaiming, “I got a quarter!”
“Actually,” my sleepy dad told me, “You got a 50-cent piece. That’s worth two quarters.”
I know firsthand that kids can learn a lot about money from the Tooth Fairy, since I did. I also know that my own kids have been able to learn some valuable money lessons based on the under-the-pillow payouts that they’ve received.
1. The values of different coins and bills
Like my father before me, I like to provide my kids with unusual coinage when they lose a tooth. My thought was that it makes it seem more magical if they receive a denomination that they never see otherwise. So my husband and I have always slipped Sacagawea golden dollars under their pillows.
The funny thing is, for years my oldest child hoarded these coins in her room and never spent one. One day she was gathering up all her money and was frustrated that she didn’t have enough to buy something. I suggested she raid her trove of tooth money, and she told me that those weren’t “real money.” We had neglected to tell her that golden dollars were legally accepted currency, and she had gone years thinking that she was exchanging her teeth for mere trinkets.
Besides using it as an opportunity to introduce unusual coins, you could use the Tooth Fairy’s visit as a lesson by alternating between different combinations of coins, so they learn that four quarters equal ten dimes which equal 20 nickels. But good luck slipping 20 nickels under the pillow without waking them up! (See also: 21 Things You Should Make Your Kids Pay For)
2. How to handle a windfall
As an adult, handling a surprise influx of cash can be one of our tougher decisions. It’s always tempting to see a windfall as license to spend freely, but then again, a wisely invested windfall…
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