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.

We began our work on thrift in 2004, when leaders from the John Templeton Foundation invited us to partner with them in a scholarly exploration of thrift as an American value. Saying "yes" to that invitation was one of the best decisions we've ever made.

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.

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. Our current partners helping to make this dream a reality include the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Boy Scouts of America (regarding which, please see our pamphlet, "Why a Scout is Thrifty").

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?"

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 Thrift – Telling the Story of a Cultural Movement for Today

Read Teaching Thrift: A Curriculum

Visit IAV / Teaching Thrift

In the News

Looking back at how today's 'sustainability' is really yesteryear's 'thrift'
David Blankenhorn, Deseret News, 1/23/2015

A national New Year's resolution: reducing our debt
Andrew Yarrow, Baltimore Sun, 12/31/2014

Bring back thrift
Andrew Yarrow, USA Today, 12/25/2014

A hidden time bomb: rising debt among the elderly
Andrew Yarrow, The Tampa Tribune, 12/23/2014

Berlin boasts a wise use of food, while Americans deal with a wasteful mentality
David Blankenhorn, Deseret News, 12/19/2014

Institute for American Values, 1841 Broadway, Suite 211, New York NY 10023 212.246.3942