Thrifty, one of our core values, may seem simple to define. However, it’s crucial to understand that it’s not synonymous with ‘cheap ‘.

We like to use the definition of maximizing resources. When we get the most out of our resources, we are thrifty. To some, we are trying to take advantage of them by getting by as little as possible.  But that definition also creates trouble for us. We aren’t trying to take advantage of anybody.

To put it simply, we are trying not to be wasteful.

Lately, I have seen a bunch of examples of thriftiness.

A few years ago, we had a project that required us to buy two vacuums. As an electrical contractor, we don’t often need to have a standard household vacuum used on carpeted floors. (We often need shop vacs.)  We needed a new vacuum in our office when the project was over. We thought it was perfect. We could be thrifty and bring one of them into the office. It broke and needed repairs four times in the next two years. We spent more time without a working vacuum than with one. Eventually, we had to give up and get a different brand. Our free solution was costing us more than purchasing a new vacuum.

It reminded me of the old days when you could buy a cheap computer printing but went broke trying to buy ink cartridges.

It happens often on-site. The least expensive tool costs more upfront than the tool that lasts. The thrifty answer is to spend money on the item that lasts. We sometimes spend extra on material because it saves us the time it takes to install, or the material provides a higher-quality product that aligns with the customer’s needs.

On remodel projects, we are often better off leaving existing conduits to save resources and avoid tearing apart a building more than is needed.

My neighborhood has been a full display of thriftiness lately. First, let’s start with us. As our family moved around and changed in size, we needed to get different beds. Over the last few years, we have let the old mattresses pile up in storage. Mattresses are easy to get rid of. The garbageman wants to charge extra to haul them away, so we decided to list them on Facebook Marketplace. We didn’t need to sell them. We wanted them to disappear. In all, we had four mattresses, a bed frame, a desk, and a dresser to get rid of.

Mission accomplished. All of them were gone within a week. Each person had a different story about their need, and it was fun to see somebody drive away happy because they needed a resource we no longer needed. Thrifty.

At the same time, we had a neighbor whose granddaughter had outgrown her little electric jeep. Our granddaughter is now turning the perfect age to start driving one. So, when our neighbor moved, she gave us this prize.

Another neighbor was getting rid of a set of outdoor tables and chairs. A family member had recently bought a house and was looking for a set of outdoor tables and chairs, so we had the chance to play matchmaker. Again, thrifty.

It was fun to see all these items find new life—all for free. Each seemed like a fair trade.

We have been trying to be thrifty for 104 years and don’t plan to start wasting resources soon. It is part of who we are.