The Tooth Trade

In the letters section of the Wall Street Journal recently, a reader named John Tagliamonte wrote in to comment on a Journal piece exploring how much money parents should give a child when the kid loses a tooth. Tagliamonte’s son lost his first tooth when he was nearly seven; the parents didn’t know how much to pay, so they asked their son. “He asked for one penny for his first tooth,” Tagliamonte writes, “but wanted to double it to two cents for the second tooth, which was also loose. … We’re now up to 64 cents for the forthcoming seventh loose tooth with the stipulation that once he receives $10.24 for the 11th tooth, all subsequent payments, including the $5,242.88 payment for No. 20, will go into his 529 college-savings account.”

I love this kid! I didn’t even know kids lose 20 teeth (do they?), but at the rate he has established, young Tagliamonte would do well to take up hockey or even bar brawling, just to ensure that he’ll have a constant supply of missing teeth well into adulthood.


puneetvohra

Now that is one smart kid. He understands the power of geometric progression at the age of 7, which I am sure some people (including me) still struggle to fully understand. I just wonder if he could have tricked his parents into starting with a dollar instead of a penny, without them realizing how large the final payment is going to be. Won't you like to see your son making a smart decision like that?

RandyfromCanada

chance are it was the parents idea , lets be serious how many almost 7 years old even know how many teeth they are going to loose , and than to be smart enough to figure the math out ..sorry don't buy it sounds like some parent trying to make us think they have a super smart kid!

majikthise

Maybe the parents had told their kid the (probably apocryphal) story about how chess was invented, and how, when asked what he wanted in return, the inventor wanted "merely" one grain of rice for the first square on the board, two for the next, four for the next, and so on...

duggie

http://pbfcomics.com/archive/PBF187-Way_Too_Much.png

RandyfromCanada

majikthise maybe the parents told their kid about chess and rice ????
l forgot about this " bedtime story " we all tell our kids ........

anne

@duggie: Is that an authentic Family Circus comic? It seems uncharacteristically violent!

SBGamesCone

@anne

It's Perry Bible Fellowship.

anne

Ahhh, thanks.

Chewxy

Ooh, there really are 20 milk teeth!
The boy's bloody smart

furiousball

If they play ice hockey, they'll easily pass the 20 teeth limit.

lazylaptop

just think if he'd hit upon compound interest?!

Sledge

I can't believe I didn't think of that. I wonder if my parents will pay for my adult teeth. I could get around $2,684,354.55 for the 28 teeth currently housed in my mouth. It's too bad I didn't hold onto my wisdom teeth a bit longer; the extra $40,265,318.40 they would have pulled in would have been a great help in starting my company. I should give my dad a call and see if we can't work something out.

yahelc

The parents pay out 10,485.75, but the kid only gets ~20 in his pocket directly. According to a BankRate.com calculator, at a rate of 0.07 return, by the time this kid goes to college, it'll be worth $22,071, more than doubling the value of the money.

Assuming a tax rate of between 35%-50% (hey, his parents read the WSJ, its a fair assumption), they'd gain ~4k-7k for the savings. Not a bad investment in all directions. And this is only assuming that they arent going to put more in there, which is probably not a reasonable assumption.

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/calculators/college/investing/529calc.asp

Bill Conerly

When my older son lost his final baby tooth, the tooth broke into two pieces. #1 son asked if the tooth fairy would pay for two teeth.

The younger son said it was like a stock split: you have two pieces now, but each is worth half of what it used to be worth.

5cott

The boy probably just heard the classic puzzle that goes along the same lines. In short a man wants to marry a princess, but the king doesn't want a dumb son-in-law, so he offers him a choice as a wedding present. Would the man prefer one million dollars or 1 cent on the first day and then double the previous amount for every other day in the month. In the version I learned, he takes the doubling and gets the girl.

SmartAss

I did the same thing until I lost all my baby teeth

puneetvohra

Now that is one smart kid. He understands the power of geometric progression at the age of 7, which I am sure some people (including me) still struggle to fully understand. I just wonder if he could have tricked his parents into starting with a dollar instead of a penny, without them realizing how large the final payment is going to be. Won't you like to see your son making a smart decision like that?

RandyfromCanada

chance are it was the parents idea , lets be serious how many almost 7 years old even know how many teeth they are going to loose , and than to be smart enough to figure the math out ..sorry don't buy it sounds like some parent trying to make us think they have a super smart kid!

majikthise

Maybe the parents had told their kid the (probably apocryphal) story about how chess was invented, and how, when asked what he wanted in return, the inventor wanted "merely" one grain of rice for the first square on the board, two for the next, four for the next, and so on...

duggie

http://pbfcomics.com/archive/PBF187-Way_Too_Much.png