In case you have some of your own and hadn't realized this yet, children cost money. Don't get me wrong- I have nothing against raising children with love and hardly any money. In fact, I work very hard to ensure my children have a lack of entitlement. Here are some thoughts on children and money.
Whenever you make a decision regarding your children and your money, you should think about whether you are actually helping your children with your money. Even if it's just a Happy Meal or new shirt, what benefits does this have for your children? If you really think about it, you may find some of your decisions aren't really helping your children at all. Instead you are hurting not only them, but yourself because your children come to expect a certain "standard of living". If you buy them lunch every Tuesday, they will expect you to buy them lunch every Tuesday. If you buy them new clothes every time you get paid, they will expect new clothes every time you get paid. If you give them $20 a week to go have fun, they'll expect $20 a week.
What message are you sending to your children about money? Is money something you can simply ask for and receive, or is money something you have to work for? What is money really good for?
I don't think any age is too early to talk to children about money (or any subject, for that matter). I talk to my two-year-old about different types of money (green paper money, checks, and debit card are all different forms of money we use for different things). I talk to my three-year-old as I'm paying the bills. I explain that we have to pay to have our house warm, we pay for our lights to go on, etc.
I really don't understand the connection between ignorance about money and innocence. I mean, sure, don't go telling your preschooler, "Well, Sweetie, we're twenty thousand in the hole, and that's why Daddy can't buy you a new scooter." But if my three-year-old ever asks for something at the store, a habit she's just starting to get into, I explain to her that either the item she wants costs more money than what we were planning to spend, or that the item is simply not on our list, and we only buy things that are on the list.
While I don't advocate telling your preschooler your entire money picture, it's perfectly ok to tell him no. In fact, by telling him no to an item at the store, for example, you're enforcing the idea that things have a monetary value and money doesn't just fall from the sky.
In order for this plan to work, however, you need to get rid of your own Gimmie Gimmies. A mature, responsible adult realizes he or she must save their money toward something they want, no matter how much he or she wants it. Seperate wants from needs. Consider the language you use in everyday speech. Do you need new Christmas ornaments, or do you just really want some? Do you need to buy milk? Probably. But do you need to buy soda, even if it's on sale?