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John Templeton Center for
Thrift and Generosity

at the Institute for American Values

Through research, public education, civic action, and policy reforms, our aim is to promote savings opportunities and incentives for Americans of modest means and to establish thrift as a broadly achievable, financially rewarding and culturally favored way of life.

Our work began in 2005 with a scholarly inquiry into the meaning and history of thrift as an American value and practice. Back then, thrift had been nearly forgotten. Indeed, many smart people at the time

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Our Ideas In the News

Toward American financial fluencyAndrew Kline, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/25/2013

America's money tree: Debt: Present and Future, Private and PublicAndrew Kline, Free Lance Star, 1/22/2013

Thrift & Generosity: A Loving CoupleAndrew Kline, The Free Lance Star, 12/23/2012

Be Generous and Give Until It HurtsAndrew Kline, Deseret News, 12/20/2012

Does a Culture of Thrift Cultivate Generosity?Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Big Questions Online, 10/2/2012

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Franklin's Thrift:
The Lost History of an American Virtue Keynote Address by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead • 7/10

Second Annual Celebration of John Brandl's Uncommon Quest for Common Ground Download PDF


It's a Sure Bet:
A Proposal for Lottery-Linked Savings Barbara Dafoe Whitehead • 7/10

Lotteries are government-sponsored anti-thrift institutions that encourage citizens to bet their money. We propose repurposing the lottery to encourage citizens to save their money. Read more



Why Thrift Matters: 20 Propositions

A statement from a diverse team of scholars and leaders chaired by Amber Lapp, Charles E. Stokes, and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of the Institute for American Values.
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Why Thrift Matters:
How Thrifty Are Americans? The Thrift Quiz and Thrift Index

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Thrift or Debt:
Which Direction is Right for Texas? Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Charles E. Stokes, and Stephen Reeves • 2011

In this appeal to the Texas Legislature, the Texas Thrift Coalition (a nonpartisan, volunteer group of leaders and organizations) promotes thrift and encourages saving as a path to family prosperity and financial security for Texans. Read more

Watch the video of the Texas
Legislature proceedings

2010 Texas Thrift Survey Field Report
Download the Report. For more information, contact Chuck Stokes.


Connecting Thrift and Marriage:
Themes in the Research Literature Alex Roberts • 2/10

There are enough solid studies on family structure, saving, and wealth to make a clear case that marriage and thrift — the nest and the nest-egg — are interconnected. Read more



Franklin's Thrift:
The Lost History of An American Virtue David Blankenhorn, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, and Sorcha Brophy-Warren

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Generosity Unbound: How American Philanthropy Can Strengthen the Economy and Expand the Middle Class Claire Gaudiani • Available September 2010.

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Thrift: A Cyclopedia David Blankenhorn

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National Thrift Week

Videos & Podcasts

A Conversation on "A Thriftier Philadelphia" hosted by David Blankenhorn and featuring the release of "Why Thrift Matters," the first U.S. thrift index.

Dr. Chuck Stokes discusses the Thrift Index with Michael Finney, KGO810 News, Jan. 21, 2012 | Start listening at 44:15

Casinos In NY? Gov. David Paterson Interviews David Blankenhorn
WOR710 Radio, Jan. 4, 2012 | Start listening at 32:50

Sheldon Garon recently gave a talk on his book, Beyond Our Means, at the Institute's Center for Public Conversation

Will Inflation Gut the American Saver?

Why Thrift? Why Here? Why Now?

Mayor Nutter Proclaims Thrift Week in Philadelphia. [Full speech also available]

NBC10 Philadelphia highlights National Thrift Week 2011 by presenting a Thrifty Tip of the Day. More Thrift Tips:
Energy Cooperative, Gardening

Michael Finney's Consumer Talk, KGO Newstalk 810

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead discusses cautious consumer spending on PBS "Nightly News", January 24, 2011

David Blankenhorn and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead Discuss Thrift with Newsweek's Daniel Gross

SNL: "Don't Buy What You Cannot Afford"

Melvin McFatter, Mississippi Public Broadcasting "A Scout Is Thrifty"