The movement brought together a diverse array of social actors with widely divergent agendas—the YMCA, the Boy and Girl Scouts, temperance crusaders, and others seeking to strengthen the moral fiber of urban young men and boys in particular, and to damp down the appeal of radicalism. It also attracted credit union and other progressive activists wanting to empower the working class economically, bankers desiring to broaden their customer base, conservationists and efficiency proponents denouncing "waste," and government leaders, school teachers, and economists who believed that encouraging saving was in the economic interests of both individuals and the nation.
A post–World War II culture that centered on spending and pleasure made the early-twentieth-century thrift messages seem outdated. Nonetheless, echoes of thrift can be found in currently popular ideas of "sustainability," "stewardship," and "simplicity" and in efforts to curtail public and private debt.
"An important and original book. Yarrow does a terrific job of uncovering a wide range of primary sources and putting them together to tell a compelling story that hasn't been told before."—Lawrence B. Glickman, author of Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America
"The ancestor of today's move toward simplicity was a flapper-era effort by those who were less fortunate to move up the ladder by saving. The initiative petered out in the post–World War II consumer frenzy, but in its day it got backing from organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, and the temperance movement, all of which saw thrift as a match for their hardy, clean-living ethos."—Library Journal
"Yarrow notes that numerous examples of thrift exist in the 21st century as the shift toward sustainability and stewardship gains momentum. Recommended."—Choice
"Andrew L. Yarrow's accessible and valuable study provides the first in-depth examination of the multifaceted national thrift movement that flourished in the United States during the 1910s and 1920s."—Journal of American History