by Kelly · 15 comments

in Living Frugally

How much is a tooth worth nowadays?

My oldest son is losing his first tooth. He’s very proud, and I’m a bit emotional. My baby’s growing up after all! So it seems as though the Tooth Fairy, and her French counterpart the Tooth Mouse, are going to be visiting our house soon.

Traditionally of course, the tooth fairy leaves something under the pillow in exchange for the tooth. I remember getting some special presents, like books, or sometimes just money: a quarter!. And of course I’ll be doing that for my son- in fact at lunchtime I went out and bought him a little Playmobile set with a puppeteer and two puppets.

But this makes me think about how to mark special occasions frugally, or at least conscientiously.

Some close friends of ours got married this past weekend. As they had been living together for several years, they didn’t register for gifts. Instead, they asked people to give them money for their honeymoon; we gave them a €50 note. I don’t resent giving them money, or that amount of money, I’d rather contribute to their honeymoon experience rather than give them something they don’t really need. But, for some reason, I don’t like them knowing how much I gave them- it feels awkward to me, like I’m subconsciously trying to compete, or at least keep up with the Joneses. If I had bought them a gift, I doubt I would have spent €50 on it, but somehow giving them a €20 note would have seemed cheap.

Someone told me not too long ago about a system, a website I think, where you can buy people experiences. For example, a couple will sign up for a honeymoon package, and choose all the things they want to do: scuba diving, dinners out, theater dates, whatever. Then people will choose what they want to pay for, and contribute the full amount, or even just part of it.

I like this idea better than just giving them cash. It feels more personal, less mercenary. I know this comes from my father- he refuses to buy people gift certificates for the very same reason!

How do you mark special occasions? Do you give cash? Gifts? Experiences?


1 Kalee July 9, 2009

Well, I’m 25 now, but my 15 year old brother got it the same, and I believe it’s the same for my friends children…..we all got a dollar per tooth. To a little kid that amount is still decent. And really, how much is a tiny bit of calcium worth? 🙂
.-= Kalee´s last blog ..Cuteness With A Side of Spicy =-.

2 Sheila July 9, 2009

Regarding the tooth thing: my best advice is to keep it simple. They have a LOT of teeth to lose! 🙂

3 Molly July 9, 2009

Um, I got a quarter (I’m 25 now). When I had to get a tooth pulled, I got 75 cents.

It was plenty then!

4 Catherine July 9, 2009

The tooth fairy delivers a gold $1 coin for each tooth. The only time the girls have seen a gold dollar is those delivered by the tooth fairy – making it a bit special.

For my nine year old, I give gift certificates to her friends when invited to birthday parties – the girls in her class are into such a range of things as they approach tweendom at different rates. For my seven year old, I give gifts – I can still figure out what the kids want. For weddings, we buy off the registry unless they have specifically requested money. The couple has picked the stuff out so I figured that they want it.

5 neimanmarxist July 9, 2009

oh, i could NOT agree more. I never give gift certificates, always gifts. I feel uncomfortable buying people things off registries. When I got married, we had a registry, and I knew what everyone spent because I’d made the registry. It was totally odd. When I buy people things from a registry, I spend more than I would if I were just getting them something they would like. I know some couples for whom the size of the registry gift is very important. I’m okay with that. But it does induce me to spend more, because they know exactly what I spent, and I feel social pressure to announce my love for the couple by spending a lot.

That said, I have to voice my earnest and negative little opinion of the practice of asking for cash gifts for anything. Or “honeymoon” gifts. My theory has always been: wedding registries are socially acceptable because they are premised on the notion of some flat-broke young couple starting a life together and needing spoons that match. Therefore the friends and the family take it upon themselves to “start them out”. they are NOT premised on the notion that “you are going to give me something, so I should tell you what that is.” and then it becomes acceptable to ask for money, or honeymoon goodies, etc. Registries are built on the idea of what a couple “needs” in a very old-school sense “ah, yes, the little lady will need some china for when her husband brings his boss to dinner.” And in that way, they can be charming (if a touch chauvinistic and decidedly backward.)

When couples just have the wedding party tell people that they want money (for whatever reason) not gifts, I buy them a pair of crystal candlesticks and leave it at that. I know it’s obnoxious, but it is what it is. I’d rather that they have something to have in their home to commemorate the support they had from friens and family on the day they formalized their union than a massage in mexico. Sorry and everything. (steps off soapbox.)
.-= neimanmarxist´s last blog ..Who Needs =-.

6 Kelly July 9, 2009

I just have to say that although I share your opinion (and got a very nice pair of candlesticks from my grandmother when I got married), culturally, it is much more accepted to give money here in France than in the US.

I think you could almost compare it to the Italian tradition- remember the scene in Goodfellas, when the mob family gives them all the money at the wedding? It’s a bit like that. People tend to give money and plants, which I think is lovely.

7 Nancy July 9, 2009

About the tooth….I got a dime for my first tooth but by the last tooth I got a quarter; inflation I guess. I’m 43 now.

About the gifts….don’t feel cheap for giving less cash than what you think the couple might be expecting. Give what you’re comfortable with and be done with it. I am of the opinion that young people today (20’s and early 30’s) expect to start their married life with the best of everything or in other words, the same standard of living their parents have (which they’ve become accustomed to at home). However, they forget that for their parents it took them 25+ years to get there. This is evident in the size of their homes, the way they’re decorated, the cars they drive, country club memberships, etc. My advice – start at the bottom and work your way up so you’ll appreciate it. If you start at the top, what have you got to look forward to.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. Sorry for ranting.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..t-shirts happen =-.

8 Kelly July 9, 2009

I totally agree with you Nancy!

9 Emily July 9, 2009

I don’t remember getting anything from the tooth fairy OR her mouse! What a gyp! But, for my 5-year-old who’s lost his first tooth, I’m stocked up on DVD’s (Schoolhouse Rock and Popular Mechanics for Kids). Those keep him happy for a looong time.

As for the gifting for adults, I just give what’s in my heart (and wallet). If they want to compare me to someone else, it’s their problem.

Kelly, thanks for keeping up with my blog. I appreciate knowing that people out there care and think of our pain. 🙂
.-= Emily´s last blog ..Joy and Pain =-.

10 Kelly July 9, 2009

Popular Mechanics for Kids? Too funny!

11 Kristin July 9, 2009

I remember getting a few coins from the tooth fairy. It was always around $1. I’ll probably do the same when I have kids-but then account for inflation… lol!

As for weddings, I’m 25 and have been married just over 2 years. We have had A LOT of weddings to go to recently. Thanks goodness we only have 1 this year. Last year we had 8 to go to! 5 of them being back home… a 2 hour drive. Which was hard when gas was at it’s most expensive then add in tux/hotel when your dh is in a couple of them. We settled for gift cards for most of them because we were short on time. Many people opt for Bed Bath and Beyond and Target as their registries – the nearest ones are 1 hour away. For the last wedding last year we got the couple 3 1/2-size bottles of local Amana wine for only $12. Local wine is delicious and around here is a reasonable price. The couple loved the uniqueness and were excited to have a date night in to drink it.
.-= Kristin´s last blog ..Free Organic Baby Layette Giveaway =-.

12 Kika July 10, 2009

I absolutely prefer giving CASH as gifts, whether for a child’s birthday, a wedding gift, whatever. I detest the idea of contributing to clutter in someone’s life. Why not let the person/couple choose how to pool the $ together and spend it on something worthwhile? I will not participate in wedding registries but give a fixed amount: $35 to colleagues/acquaintances; $50 to a cousin or other relative; $100 (or more) to an immediate family member. We budget for this and it works for us. The same idea goes for my own children’s birthdays. They know the amount we budget for their gift and usually we apply it towards a larger item they’re saving for. For Christmas we maintain more of an element of surprise although always work at buying them gifts that endure – not just plastic toys – books, art supplies, things they love and want but will not simply be discarded after a few weeks. For the tooth fairy, I started with my oldest son giving .25$ then progressed to a $1/tooth. But when he got a little older (my kids start loosing teeth late) and thought he could demand this, I stopped leaving money. I mean, come on! He knew there was no tooth fairy, right? So now, I put a coin under the pillow for the first two or three teeth only. I would add, too, that I really dislike people buying me gifts – unless it is a coffee card, say, it is just more STUFF that I really don’t need. My friends and I have begun taking eachother out for coffee or lunch on our special days.

13 Susanne July 12, 2009

I’m horrible at giving gifts. It’s not that I don’t want to… It’s just that having to find something both meaningful and affordable really stresses me out. I almost wish everyone could keep a running registry so that whenever I need to purchase something for someone, I could just consult that.

As a kid, I think I received a quarter per tooth.
.-= Susanne´s last blog ..A second opinion saved me $1832 =-.

14 Abigail July 12, 2009

I think I got a dollar each tooth. Not really sure though.

As far as gifts, I don’t like giving cash. Even gift cards can be a little weird (though usually I’ve gotten them through points programs, so I’m even cheaper than they think!).

Frankly, I have very few qualms about weddings — do what makes you happy. One of my few caveats, though, is DO NOT ASK FOR CASH. I think it’s tacky beyond belief. I understand not wanting “things” but if people want to give you cash, they’ll give you cash. It would make me uncomfortable for my friends to have their hands out. Perhaps it’s because we’re broke. There are times we can afford to get friends presents, but generally speaking all my friends just don’t bother with gifts for birthdays and such. We take each other out for a drink. For our wedding a year ago, my friends were very generous, but we also made sure to register in places with affordable things.

I am simply a firm believer that you don’t ask for cash. If you want help with the honeymoon, do one of those registries. That seems cool, but it’s a way for people to not have to hand over an envelope of money. That just seems… weird.

I really admired a pair of friends who got married. They both made comfortable incomes, they’d had their house together for a few years, so they asked that donations be made to charities, then listed a couple of their favorites.

I can’t say I’m that selfless, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if more of us were?
.-= Abigail´s last blog ..Extended stay hotels and the virtues of moving on spec =-.

15 Billie July 13, 2009

We must be rich! We gave each of our children 2$ for the tooth they have lost. But to be fair, the kids don’t get any kind of allowance (at least not from us) so this is one opportunity to provide them for money to save up for toys that they want.
.-= Billie´s last blog ..Please leave it to a professional! =-.

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