Kamerman said he advises clients to be realistic. For one thing, don’t expect to join the Forbes’ list anytime soon. The man at the poor end of Forbes’ 400 list amassed his $900 million fortune by making risky yet shrewd calls in the real estate market. The average investor doesn’t have the stomach – nor the investment capital – to match his success. Besides, who knows when the next massive price-appreciation cycle will hit real estate again? But financial analysts say there are areas of the real estate market that can still be tapped for quick profits. The foreclosure market, often considered one of the last vestiges of bargain hunting in the real estate world, is a good place to start. “Historically, about 1 percent of first and second mortgages wind up in foreclosure,” said Rick Sharga, vice president of marketing at RealtyTrac, a company in Irvine that tracks the national foreclosure market online. “And we are suspecting that inventory will definitely go up in 2006.” Sharga said that given the huge number of zero-percent financing loans floating atop California’s frothy real-estate market, there are sure to be a surge of defaults in coming years, giving investors a chance to buy discounted real estate. John Dolce, 62, who made a bundle in the mortuary business, doesn’t rely on foreclosures to boost his net worth. Instead, he eyes the buying habits of Joe Public and factors it into his own stock-picking strategy. “I just look around and see what people are buying in the stores, and then I call my broker,” said Dolce, a retired Floridian who’s visiting his daughter in Pasadena this year for the holidays. For 2006, Dolce is bullish on Mannatech Industries Inc., a nutritional supplements company based in Texas. The company’s 52-week range is $8.17 to $26.10, and as of the week before Christmas, the stock was edging near $15. “People are becoming more health-conscious, so why not invest in a company that’s in this line of business?” he said Large cap stocks – stocks that typically have at least $5 billion in outstanding market value – are also poised to do well in 2006. Larry James, a financial consultant with AG Edwards in Redlands, said he expects interest rates to stop rising next year, a sign that the economy is in the mid- to late stages of expansion. Historically, “large cap stocks have done relatively well during these times,” he said. Of course, more timid domestic markets don’t always bode well for investors’ net worth. That’s why Pari Kasliwal, a lecturer in the finance department at California State University, Long Beach, prefers a well-diversified portfolio. And to add a little more pep to the portfolio in 2006, Kasliwal suggests investing at least 20 percent to 30 percent of a portfolio in foreign markets. “Everybody seems to be talking about Japan being undervalued,” said Kasliwal, who also noted that the Indian market is a bit overvalued. While foreign markets, especially those in developing nations, expose investors to currency and political risks, they can yield double-digit returns in a short period. Apart from foreign markets, there are several investment vehicles that could enhance their holder’s net worth. Specifically, some employers may begin offering the Roth 401(k) next year, enabling contributions to grow tax-free. The biggest difference when compared with a regular 401(k) is that contributions to a Roth are made with after-tax dollars. Christine Benz, associate director of fund analysis at Morningstar, said workers should ask their employers about Roth 401(k)s in the new year. “Even if there’s no imminent plans to offer a Roth 401(k), it’s worth looking into.” — Evan Pondel, (818) 713-3662 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The poorest man on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans has a net worth of about $900 million. Not even a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket would help the average American household – with a net worth of $86,000 – catch up to Forbes’ pauper. But if you’re serious about sharply increasing your net worth in the New Year, many financial advisers say you’ll have to engage in some calculated risk. With real estate prices leveling across the nation, the stock market’s direction uncertain and oil prices unpredictable, there are no safe bets on a tidy return on investment these days. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Still, the bigger returns will go to those who are able to be a bit creative and take some healthy financial risks, experts say. “It doesn’t require a true risk-taker in the sense of jumping in. It’s the person who takes a calculated risk who usually wins,” said Carl Martellino, who teaches a financial course at Pomona College. “And a lot of times, that depends on the person’s skill set.” So what if you’re middle aged and wary of the stock market but have some cash you want to put to work? First, you’ll want to determine your net worth – your total assets minus your liabilities. “It’s one of the first things I calculate when I meet a new client because it lets me know if someone’s assets and liabilities are out of alignment,” said Mark Kamerman, a senior financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial in Simi Valley.