Our Thrift Initiative aims to study and invigorate thrift as an American value.

The word "thrift" comes from "thrive" and means the ethic and practice of wise use. It's one of the English language's most potent words. And in recent decades, one of the most misunderstood. And for the American future, one of the most important to put back to work.

Want to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself to thrift? You can read our pamphlet, Why Thrift Matters . . . browse David Blankenhorn's book, Thrift: A Cyclopedia . . . watch David's public lecture, Why Thrift? . . . and read our collection of scholarly essays, Franklin's Thrift, which traces the idea from Benjamin Franklin to today.

A flagship thrift publication is our 2008 appeal, For a New Thrift, which lead author Barbara Dafoe Whitehead published in revised form as a major essay, A Nation in Debt. Please read it.

Two important books on the history and meaning of thrift are Thrift: The History of American Cultural Movement (2015), by IAV scholar Andrew Yarrow, and Franklin's Thrift: The Lost History of an American Virtue (2009), edited by David Blankenhorn, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, and Sorcha Brophy-Warren.

If you teach or work with young people, please take a look at Teaching Thrift: A Curriculum, designed to teach thrift creatively to high school students. Another great workshop resource for teachers and youth workers is The Way to Wealth: Four Rules. For more information about teaching thrift, please visit our webpage IAV / Teaching Thrift.

We are also proud of our Thrift Collection – the world's most comprehensive collection on the meaning, history, and possibility of thrift. This collection is a companion to our curricula and is especially useful for teachers, students, and American studies scholars.

In the area of thrift education, our dream is for every young American to benefit from at least one module of high-quality thrift education before reaching age 18, through a school, library, youth-serving organization, or financial services organization.

Want more? Check out our or book, American Thrift: A Reader . . . our pamphlet, How Thrifty Are Americans? . . . Claire Gaudiani's book, Generosity Unbound . . . our short documentary, Faith and Credit, on the great Ohio thrift visionary and credit union leader Rita Haynes . . . our appeal to Texas legislators, Thrift or Debt: Which Direction is Right for Texas? . . . our working paper, Connecting Thrift and Marriage . . . Gerard Cuddy's essay, "Thrift is the Social Movement for the Great Recovery" . . . our conversation, "Why America Spends While the World Saves" . . . and our debate, "Is Thrift Good for America?"

For a detailed overview of IAV's work on thrift from 2010 through 2014, you can read Evaluating Thrift: A Report.

Please also watch the Steve Martin SNL skit, "Don't Buy What You Cannot Afford."

Do you like this vision? Would you like to contribute time, talent, or money? Would you like to donate items to our Thrift Collection? We're easy to reach.


Listen to the podcast Thrift – Telling the Story of a Cultural Movement for Today

Learn about the book Thrift by Andrew Yarrow

Read Teaching Thrift: A Curriculum

Visit IAV / Teaching Thrift

Visit the IAV Thrift Collection

In the News

The Lost Virtue of Thrift
David Blankenhorn, National Affairs, 3/21/2016

How Early-20th-Century Americans Taught Their Kids to Be Thrifty
Rebecca Onion, 7/27/2015

Americans Low Savings Rate A Bad Sign for Good Economy
Andrew Yarrow, The Fiscal Times, 4/26/2015

Cleaning Up, Throwing Out
Henrietta Verma, 4/22/2015

'Thrift,' by Andrew L. Yarrow
Juliet B. Schor, 3/20/2015


Institute for American Values, 420 Lexington Avenue, Room 300, New York, NY 10170-0399