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Lucy's 'Santa Smarts'

Lucy may have wanted real estate for Christmas, but she also knew that there is more than one way to build wealth. She knew she could start a business using her talents and skills. 2010 should be the year you do it, too!
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Remember Charlie Brown's nemesis Lucy from the comic strip, "Peanuts"? Remember the interesting conversation they had in the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas? Charlie stops at Lucy's "psychiatrist stand" to deal with his Christmas depression, and here's what they say:

Lucy Van Pelt: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.
Charlie Brown: What is it you want?
Lucy Van Pelt: Real estate.
from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

What a brilliant child. She may miss the point of giving, but she's certainly making a plan for her future. There are really two great conversations we should be inspired by Miss Van Pelt to be having.

I. Real Estate is the Gift that Keeps On Giving

Lucy doesn't want toys, clothes, or other things she knows full well are cash drains and won't build her financial wealth. A new bicycle won't appreciate in value and put her through college. In a worst case scenario, a company's failure will leave your stock certificate worth nothing but the paper it's written on. Real estate, though, is real. At the end of the day you own a piece of the planet, whatever it might be worth.

It's no secret to anyone that home prices declined steeply over the last couple of years. Some are projecting continued declines in value through the 1st quarter of 2010 before things pick up again. Yet trends for the future are solid:

• The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee announced December 16 that it would keep interest rates "exceptionally low for an extended period of time." The same committee pointed out that housing spending is starting to increase. The availability of credit at low interest, coupled with a steadily growing desire for new development, put real estate in demand once again.

Housing starts showed a 9% percent jump over November 2008. California's southlands between Los Angeles and San Diego, hit hard by the housing crash, showed a 15% increase in sales over the same time last year. Even the markets that suffered the most over the last couple of years will begin growing again.

• The Wall Street Journal recently reported that "home-building is so far down it has nowhere to go but up" -- probably not tomorrow, it goes on to say, but eventually, as has always happened, the market will recover.

All this should be telling you that the time to get into the real estate conversation is now. Find a group of investors, put together a great deal on that 10 acre piece of land, and get in the real estate game. Unlike so many other things, the total amount of real estate in the world today is fixed. Short of the moon opening up as a market (even NASA doubts that's going to happen for decades to come) the land we have now is all the land we've got. The truth is that the value of land, over time, with incredibly rare exceptions, always goes up. In the right places it goes up substantially.

II. Build a Better Lemonade Stand

It's no accident, I think, that in the "Peanuts" cartoons Lucy is sitting at what looks like an old-fashioned road-side booth. Only she's not selling lemonade. I'm not sure I'd want to drink her lemonade anyway: would you? Instead she has created a cash machine based on what she believes her skill set is: giving advice to others.

So what is your skill set? Are you a trained pianist or instrumentalist? Do you write really well? Ever thought of putting that great heirloom recipe on the market? Most entrepreneurs start businesses not on what they love doing, but what they are really good at doing (and they are often not the same thing). It may even be something you've been doing for free, and have never thought to ask for money for. Why not? You are providing a good or service: don't be afraid to ask for cash in return.

Lucy may have wanted real estate for Christmas. But she also knew that there is more than one way to build wealth. She knew she could start a business using her talents and skills (such as they were). A nickel at a time, she put new cash in her pocket. 2010 should be the year you do it, too!

Learn to earn more here. And share your thoughts by calling into the Loral Langemeier Show at 877-777-7713, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. Pacific, 8 a.m. Mountain, 9:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Or listen to the podcasts.