Many kids get their first exposure to finances from the tooth fairy. But given that she’s been getting a wee bit parsimonious of late, she might be giving them their initial lesson on the vagaries of the economy.

According to Visa’s annual Tooth Fairy survey released last month, American children have been finding an average of $3.19 per lost tooth this year, a decrease of 24 cents from last year. As part of the downward spiral, Visa says children can expect to accumulate roughly $64 under their pillow as they transition to adult teeth, down from $74 only two years ago. That’s two years in a row of declining returns on baby teeth.

Sounds tough for the kiddies, but it’s hard to feel sorry for them, especially since many of you reading this are old enough to remember when the going rate was maybe 25 cents per tooth. But no matter the amount, the magic money machine that is the tooth fairy can do more than simply provide financial compensation for a gap in a child’s mouth. “A visit from the tooth fairy is an ideal opportunity to talk with children about the importance of saving and budgeting,” said Nat Sillin, Visa’s director of global financial education.

He wouldn’t comment on whether tooth fairy payouts had wider meaning as an economic indicator.

In conjunction with its survey of 4,027 people this spring, Visa has released free apps for Android and the iTunes Store, along with an updated calculator on Facebook. Visa says these apps can help parents determine a fair market value for lost teeth by looking at such comparable household factors as gender, age, home state, family size, marital status, income and education levels.

It’s nice to see the tooth fairy concept still thriving in the 21st century, but not everybody is playing along. According to the survey, 10% of respondents said their kids get zilch for their lost ivories. At the other end of the spectrum, 5% of respondents said their kids get $20 or more. For children who discuss teeth-related finances at school, it can be a jarring introduction to the reality of unequal wealth distribution.