Becoming a billionaire can take a little creative thinking. That’s exactly what hotel magnate Gary Tharaldson had to do when he was building his empire of budget hotels in North Dakota in the late 1980s A 73-year-old former gym teacher, Tharaldson entered the hospitality business with the purchase of a Super 8 motel in 1982, according to Forbes At the time, Tharaldson was an insurance salesman who was looking to lower his taxes by investing his earnings But the motel business was slowing down as tax breaks expired and Tharaldson had to get creative to keep costs down Tharaldson was one of the first motel owners to move the building’s laundry room near the lobby so front desk staff could fold laundry when the lobby was empty in the middle of the night, Hilton Senior Vice President Phil Cordell told Forbes Tharaldson also launched his own construction company to lower building costs, according to Forbes He built his hotels with wood frames instead of with more expensive poured concrete, and with only 60 guest rooms instead of the standard 100 Tharaldson also started paying housekeeping staff an hourly rate instead of a flat rate for each room they cleaned Tharaldson is also frugal in his personal life. He told Forbes that he and his family live modestly, with the exception of their 45th-floor condo in the Waldorf Astoria on the Las Vegas Strip It’s not unusual for billionaires to be thrifty, Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported A study of the habits of 21 self-made billionaires by Rafael Badziag revealed that millionaires are more likely than billionaires to live extravagantly Tharaldson’s ingenuity has paid off. He now owns 49 hotels across the country and is the first and only billionaire in North Dakota, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion, a figure that Tharaldson called “very conservative ”