i don't usually address these subjects, i assume you have this taken care of. but here on "mad money," i feel like i'm being remiss in not mentioning them more often. very few colleges teach you a thing how to manage your finances. i know from your phone calls, e-mails and twitter that many of you really crave this kind of education. you just ask for it every day. so i'm done ignoring it, it ends tonight. what are the three things you must do before you can own stocks? first, you've heard it a million times, it just sucks the fun out of everything. but you have to, have to, have to pay off all that credit card debt. i've got to nag you on the ublt is.
i'm not one of those that believe credit cards are evil. but i acknowledge the facts and the facts are these. if you have credit card debt, you are paying a high interest rate on that debt. we're talking rates that are loan shark rates. to be fair to the credit card industry, they won't break your kneecaps if you don't pay them back. like many aspects of personal finance, i have brushed up against the down side of credit cards. in between college and law school, i owed a huge amount to various creditors, so i had very little left to live on. initially because of a bad break, i ended up living in my car. i still managed to put a few
account i created. once i had a permanent address, once i knew where i was going to live, even though i was in hock to a bunch of companies, the credit card issuing companies found me, and i took a bunch of them down. i pretty much everyone who offed me the plastic. i figured you could pay the minimum and string everybody out. but the credit issuers never seemed to mind. i remember i was paying the minimum and i got an offer for one more. i said why not? but when i added up the minimum payments and charges, i realized they amounted to my biggest experience after my rent. i wanted to default on them, but feared the consequences. i restructured my noncredit card debt with a collection agency.
these guys are like a posse. and their payment plan gave me just enough breathing room to get by until i went back to law school. there i was able to get some legal work, and even though the hourly rate was good, almost every penny went to the credit cards. what a relief when i paid them off. in the end, i couldn't stomach opening the mail. not everyone will be as fortunate as i was snagging a job that took me out of the credit card wilderness. but i am realistic when i say there's no way you can make enough money away from these card issuers to save in any meaningful way. even if you're a great investor, a one in a million trader, it won't matter.
still be paying 15% annual interest. if your stock portfolio racks up a 20% annual return, that's a darn good year, but if you have a big balance on your credit cards, all of your gain also be sucked down the drain by the interest rates. if you go into credit card debt, stocks are just going to be a hobby. stocks can't be the wealth generating machine they should be. all the wealth will be canceled out by the welt destroying powers of credit card debt. sz the house of pain. there are three things you need before buying stocks. the second is health insurance. you might think the affordable care act makes this a nonissue, but now you have to buy it or pay a fine.
don't be a moron about this stuff. even if you object to obamacare politically, it's idiotic to pay a fine. plus, there are all kinds of subsidies to make the costs more bearable. honestly, you shouldn't need legislation. medical emergencies are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in this country. i had no health care plan and had to drive hours to see a doctor. even then i couldn't get the care i needed. the younger demo of the audience can feel invulnerable, but you're not. one illness, a couple hospital visits, it can crush all the capital you've built over the years. it's cheaper to buy insurance before you get sick, and you need health care eventually at
some point. everybody does. last but not least, you need disability insurance. the rational for this is simple. without these two insurances, you can get wiped out. all the precious gains you've racked up in the stock market will be for nothing. insure, you have to pay off your credit card debt, get health and disability insurance. so you have no excuse not to get them if you can afford to own stocks. these are essential elements in your strategy for capital preservation. remember, we talk about capital appreciation. that's where you grow your investments using your money to make more money. but capital preservation comes first, because you need that to protect your money in the present, if you want to grow it in the future.
pay off your credit card debt and getting health and disability insurance are the three most important things. without them, investing doesn't make sense. why bother? with heavy credit card debt and without health care and disability, building wealth can be futile, even if you're one 06 the best investors in the world. so take care of these issues starting tomorrow, then create the portfolio that makes sense for you. zaidi in connecticut, how are you? i love the show and thank you for calling me back. i quit my job two years ago. 57 years old now and i have $400,000 and a 401(k).
brokerage, did pretty well. >> stick with it. i like what you've got. some people are locked in. let's go to mike in new york. >> hey, mr. cramer, how are you doing? >> all right, how are you? >> doing fine. i just have a question concerning city pensions. i've been a retired police officer for two years. i've been in the city pension for over 20. what is the difference between a 457 plan and a roth i.r.a. and what are the pros and cons between the two? >> i'm going to have to ask you to check with your people at your pension plan, because the 457 deferred plan, i am not quite sure how that works and i can't come up with something here. it is too important, i'm very sorry, but that's a personal decision to you, and i don't feel comfortable offering advice on that particular situation. before you can think about investing in stocks, make sure you build a foundation.
pay off credit card debt, get health and disability insurance. on "mad money" tonight, you know i want you to be diversified and the same applies for your 401(k). should you ever tinker with your contribution level, don't miss my take. plus, the 401(k) isn't the only game in town. i'll tell you when it makes sense to add an i.r.a. to the mix. "mad money" will be right back. >> don't miss a second of "mad money." follow @jimcramer on twitter. send jim an e-mail, or give us a call at 1-800-743-cnbc.
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a subject we don't spend enough time on in the business meeting. if you're serious about getting rich and more important, staying that way, then i recommend two things. first, go to amazon or your local bookstore, by the jim cramer catalog. the second thing you should do to prepare for retirement, even if you're in the early 20s and you're only just started working is you've got to start saving now. notice i didn't say save for retirement, i said prepare, because you're just stuffing your money in the first national bank, stuffing it into your mattress, or saving it in a 401(k), they might not be enough to prepare for retirement. you should take an active hand
with your money. getting your hands dirty, especially with the traditional vehicle for so many retirements. with that minimum reward with fixed incomes, not worth the risk that's what i'm here to help you do. young people, you've got to do this too. if there's anyone that can make the process interesting, it's me. you need to learn how to do this sometime, wouldn't you rather learn from a guy that's been around for ages? before i get going, i want to make you a promise. i promise to give you some useful advice that you can't just find on the internet. so many of these have been repeated ad nauseam, it's not worth calling it advice anymore.
individual i.r.a.? yes. people say things like, pay your bills on time, don't spend more than you make. all great pieces of advice that everybody knows, but people will tell you just those points. and assume it's enough to help you get ahead. i say it's not. basic financial responsibility is just a jumping off point. diet and exercise, please. i'm the guy who tells you where to go from there. because i didn't make a career out of giving people money advice. i made a career out of using money to make even more money and i came to this gig later in life. so how from the perspective of a money manager like me should you go about preparing for retirement? what useful advice can i give you beyond just that you should use your 401(k) plan, if you have one, and your i.r.a., which anyone can have, because you
don't pay taxes and you don't pay any taxes on the gains inside of them. how about some advice on what you should not do with your 401(k). the conventional wisdom says put money in, but leaves you on your own at the beginning of a highly confusing process. so what should you not do with your contributions? first and foremost, don't use much of your 401(k) money to buy stock in the company you work for. i'm far from the first person to say this. company stock is still the most popular 401(k) investment out there. more people put their retirement dough into the stock of their employer than any other investment. i can't stress enough how misguided that is. it must be only one part of a much larger pie. why? let me put it in "mad money" terms. every wednesday we play, am i
when it comes to investing, diversification, i tell you in the first gospel according to cramer, is the only free lunch out there. regular viewers know if you expose too much of your portfolio to the same sector, risk. suppose you had all your money in tech stocks before the dotcom stocks, you would have been wiped out. say in 2013, your portfolio was in higher dividend yielding stocks. bond yields were so low, which meant that investors looking for income had no choice but to buy stocks with big dividends. but then in the spring of 2013 we had an interest rate scare. rates began to rise violently. and the return you should get from bonds increased and all
crushed, because they finally had some real interest rate competition from the bond market. so if all of your portfolio was made up of these high yielders, you lost a lot of money, even though the first half of 2013 whole. we're going to get more interest rate spikes. you've got to diversify. by that logic, your 401(k), do you want to invest in the same salary? that would mean you're putting your savings in the same basket as your paycheck. what if you worked for enron or eastman kodak for less unsavory examples or any other company that goes under? you lose your job and retirement savings. it's lose-lose. do you think it's conjecture? i used to have a radio show and i got a lot of calls telling me to stop bashing enron. why? because the callers had a ton of
i explained perhaps they needed to diversify away from enron. each time i heard how they got discounts or how such a great company was too terrific to tell or that it was down so much, they couldn't sell. then one day it was gone. but many people have made this argument before and the company stock is still the number one investment. you probably feel like you understand the company you work for. i'm telling you, that doesn't cut it. you have to cut back. just cut it back tomorrow. diversification comes before everything else when you're investing, whether it's in your discretionary portfolio or investing, so never put more than 1/5th of your money into the stock of the company you work for.
remember, you're doubling down. stick with cramer if you want to know more about how to manage your retirement money, so you can build lasting wealth for you and your family. there's much more "mad money" ahead. americans are living longer these days, and yes, that could change the way you prepare for retirement. and sometimes your 401(k) company match just doesn't cut it. don't miss my take on going above the normal contribution. stick with cramer. >> cramer, you are super, you are awesome! >> i'm a first-time investor. >> you are inspiring me to get in the game. >> your show is the best.
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everybody in this country wants to get rich quick, except perhaps for some hippie types that don't believe in currency, who live off the grid. anyone who tells you he's got a way to make obscene amounts of money overnight is doing something very illegal. how about the meth operation in "breaking bad." i love when bryan cranston came
his product being like apples. that meth sold itself. but that get rich quick scheme ended bad. the best way to make your money grow is to do it slowly, which is why tonight we're talking about long-term wealth building. it's critical when you're investing for retirement. i know retirement money should have little risk taken. but it's possible in this era of very low interest rates, which seems like it could go on for a long time, that you could be too cautious, too prudent and too risk adverse. when you're managing your money, there's a point where all of your prudence can become like recklessness. and this is something you particularly see with people who want to save for retirement. i like to say you investor retirement, don't save.
like you sock the money away in maybe a long-term bond fund. most people, when they're putting money away for retirement, feel like they shouldn't take on too much risk, that their retirement savings are too important to jeopardize by investing in stocks. i understand why many of you feel this way. if you shun stocks and cling to bonds because you believe that there's less chance for down side, that's not being all that intelligent right now. investing none of your 401(k) in stocks is far more likely to jeopardize your retirement savings in the long run than investing everything in stocks would be. why? okay, when you're investing for retirement, you're in a race against time. you need to generate enough to
support yourself for the rest of your life. if you are too risk adverse, meaning if you load up on bonds in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, avoiding stocks because of the risk, you will never generate enough money to retire comfortably. the money you have will probably be safe, but that's all it will be. it's not enough to get a low single digit return, below 4% from 30-year treasuries. because that low rate, you're barely going to outpace inflation. you also have to factor in the need for capital appreciation. using your money to make more money, perhaps a lot more. let's not forget that bonds aren't always the epitome of safety either. in an environment where interest rates are rising, bond price also fall. something that will truly be felt by anyone who puts money in
lose money if rates shoot up as so many people happened if the fed isn't careful and doesn't raise rates. i'm not one of them, but many say that. so you likely won't generate enough to retire when you want, and there are times when bond prices have genuine down side risk. they can certainly drop enough as they did in the second quarter of 2013. what else falls under this category? how about stable value funds. the truth is, this is just a type of fund that gives you a slightly better return than a money market fund and worst nan a high quality bond fund. if the return from nothing but
bonds is too meager to build true wealth, this is even worse. the definition of trying to be so prudent, you become irresponsible. the goal of the show, my mission statement, is to help you use your money to make even more money. even as i know that requires work and you can't be on autopilot. when you put money into things like treasury bonds, you're taking that money off the table and saying this money, i'm not going to use it to generate more wealth. i just want to keep it safe. but you can't have it both ways. either you cling to safety and when it's time to retire you don't have enough, or you take risk in stocks and go for the higher returns that will enable you to retire wealthier. i'm not say thing's no place for bonds in a retirement portfolio. you should have some of your cash cordoned off in a risk free
zone because you're going to use that shortly. but stocks come first isn't an option until much later in life which is so different than the old days when interest rates weren't being kept down and the european economy is always bordering on recession, sending even more money here, creating absurd demands for bonds. those who bought some of the big corporate offerings ever, those long-term bond offerings from apple and verizon, might do better reinvesting those dividends. 401(k) plans have limited options, so the best way to invest is find a cheap index fund that mimics the s&p 500. the kind of stocks that have been proven to be the best asset
as you get older, you should take some of that stock money off the table and put it into bond funds for safety. but only some. my rule is you should keep 10% to 20% of your portfolio in bonds in your 30s. in your 40s, up to 20% and in your 50s it's 30 to 40%. this may sound aggressive to some of you, but it's the best way to generate the return you need to retire. once you retire, you should still own some stocks that can generate more income. i think they should be about a third of your portfolio at that point. i know that's aggressive, but i have to give you what i think is right. this is very much count tore the conventional wisdom, but that was coined when people had much shorter life spans. if you want to provide for
upside from stocks. eventually that safe money in bonds will run out. not owning stocks once you retire is a bet against your own longevity. want to make that bet? stick with cramer and i'll give you more specific tips to make even more money. shawn in new york, shawn? >> hi, jim. thanks for taking my call. my uncle frankie got me hooked on your show and i'm a big fan. >> that's terrific. >> i'm currently 25 and recently graduated from law school. over the past three years, i've taken advantage of my nonexistent tax rate and maxed out my roth i.r.a. from a summer job. so my question is, i have the money invested in broad stock index funds but how can i invest more aggressively? >> shawn, you have to get into
an aggressive mutual fund. in the next ten years, you have a shot at making a lot of money. this is your chance to risk that money, because you have the rest of your life to make it back. i need dan in florida. >> hi, jim. long-time, first-time. >> yes. >> jim, i was like to hear your thoughts on a buy and hold strategy on companies that have had consistent compounded growth of 10% per year for many years. >> i always say to people, how can you buy and hold them if they have consistent growth, if next year they're not consistent? i've seen this time and again, particularly with technology stocks. i remember a company called digital equipment. it kept doing it and doing it and one day disappeared. these are all companies that i remember that defined what you just mentioned.
then they missed and missed . can't have that happen. learn to make your money work for you. i'll be giving you advice along the way. i'll let you know when it's right to double down on your retirement plan. and there are ways to make sure you don't have to work until your last breath. plus, your tweets just ahead. stick with cramer. >> jim cramer, you're one of my heroes. >> i look forward to your show every weeknight. >> thank you so much for helping beginning investors like me. >> when you talk about the market, i believe that you're spot on. >> i love it. thank you so much.
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if you're looking to build the foundations of long-term prosperity and if you're watch thing show, i assume that's important to you. unless you just like the sound effects. the first step is to set up for retirement that's why we've been focused on like the 401(k) plans and i.r.a.s. right now i want to share with you my favorite piece personally of 401(k) advice.
unless you think i'm a clown and utter stooge, you know what i am about to tell you is worth hearing. most people contribute on a nonltly basis and usually that is automatic. so every month you plow in 1/12th of your annual contribution. people will tell you to just leave this alone. passively invest your money. i am not one of them. why not? because there will be times when the market takes a hit, a big hit, and i think you want to capitalize on that in your 401(k). why would you contribute the same amount every month when stock prices can differ radically from one month to the next. would you want to do that when the market is nearing the top as when it's nearing a bottom? no. so here's how you can take advantage of a big decline in the market.
stock market pullbacks are opportunities to buy. when you get a 10% decline in the s&p 500, you have to double down in your contribution. that month you put in twice your normal 401(k) contribution. meaning 1/6th of what you plan to invest instead of the 1/12th. beyond that, you might want to wait another quarter before you double down again. by that point, the year might be over. i do this. this is what i do. it may not sound like it would make a difference, but it does. if you embrace the 1/12th solution and double down when the market declines, you would make more money than if you contributed the same amount every month. and just to make sure we're clear, i'm talking about investing the money in a low cost s&p 500 index fund, with a manager who has a long record of
consistent performance. you probably can't find a mutual fund like that in your 401(k) offerings. will this make a huge difference over four or five years? maybe. but our 40 or 50 years, it could mean tens of thousands of dollars. again, actively managing things, not taking that passive approach that no longer flies in the new world of investing. pay attention to the markets so when you get a 10% decline in the s&p 500, you can double down and invest twice as much, take advantage of the cheaper merchandise out there. you can afford to think of a meaningful decline in stocks as nothing more than a sale. no different than a sale at your local department store that's
consider to be the holy grail of retirement savings, your 401(k) plan. now, i've given you all the dos and don'ts tonight, and it can be a vital part of setting yourself up for a nice retirement. and why not? but i'm not in saying that you need to limit out every year. your 401(k) is important but it has presentee of down sides. people cite high management fees as a problem and they eat away at your capital, no doubt about it. but the worst part is the lack of control over your money and the lack of control what you can invest in. the best way to invest is to buy a diversified portfolio.
most 401(k) plans don't give you that option. instead you get to choose between no more than a couple different funds, some for stocks and bonds. most of what you have to choose from isn't all that great and i don't know that i would waste my time trying to change those things. that's okay. it's why we have the i.r.a., an individual retirement account, not the irish republican army. it lets you invest your money the way you want to, making'9" the superior vehicle for your retirement investments. your i.r.a. has the same status as a 401(k). the one difference is with many 401(k) plans, your employer will match some of your percentages to a certain point. that's free money. you would be a fool not to take it. but there's usually a cap on how much they will contribute. so here's my rule of thumb. contribute as much money in your 401(k) as needed to get the full company match.
and then stop right there. at that point, don't put another penny into your 401(k), at least not until you've maxed out your i.r.a. contributions. then put all the rest of your money into an individual retirement account. if you want to know whether to use a regular or roth i.r.a. or the difference, pick up a copy of stay mad for life. that's the book i wrote that gives you much more details. now you can only pour $5500 a year into an i.r.a. as of 2014. unless like me you're over 50. in that case, you can contribute $6500 a year. i would say max it out if you
can afford to. if you do that, you should be able to fund a terrific retirement. 401(k) plans have a lot going flawed. that's why you should only contribute as much money as it takes to get the full match from your employer. after that, all your savings should go into an individual retirement account which has much more flexibility. if your 401(k) has no employer match, just keep going until you max out your i.r.a. at $5500 a year.
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if you're young rngs i don't want to see any bonds in that i.r.a. i want to see stock, stock, stock. as you get older, stocks with dividend dividends. we need to make money with our money. we can't do it with the bond market. next, i'm looking at dividend stocks. when is the best time to purchase and what evaluation do i review? there is a terrific newsletter at the street.com. he tells you which dividends are safe and aren't. and here, pay off car, house or invest? pay off the car, house, let it run. your mortgage can be very low.
but let's get to the next tweet. this one says, what percentage should people save from their income a month? i talk about this all the time. my advice is that you should take a look at what your discretionary money would be away from just eating, and that's the money i want to see put away. in other words, movies, that kind of thing, try it. i did it for two years and i can't believe how much i was able to save, two years when i got out of law school. up next, how many stocks is too few too many to own? we are professionals. we know how to do the analysis. that means i think for you, if you're an amateur home gamer, no more than ten. let's go to the next one. locked student loans, less than 3%. suggestion?
that is brilliant. some of the higher yielding utilities are very good. and the individual -- the iyr, there are some excellent real estate investment trusts. the next one says, how much tinkering with the retirement account is too much? first of all, i know a benchmark of too much changing around, and that's my fantasy league. do not change 26 times a week. if everything you bought is good, don't make any changes. do you favor any particular financial advisers? this is really important. i need youou to find someone else who has one and recommends that person. why?
because i have discovered that this industry, most people are too small for the big guys. i have been on fights representing people who have $100,000 and don't get any treatment at all of any sort of personal touch. so find someone who is a good person and use that person. otherwise, you're not going to get the personal touch that is so needed. stick with cramer.ramer.tretch into muumuus. and pilled cardigans become pets. but it's not you, it's the laundry. protect your clothes from stretching, fading, and fuzz. ...with downy fabric conditioner... it not only softens and freshens, it helps protect clothes from the damage of the wash. so your favorite clothes stay your favorite clothes. downy fabric conditioner. wash in the wow. we're all familiar with this, axe daily fragrances.
for you here it's thursday, october 29th.. coming up on "early today," the donald was low key, jeb bush missed the mark and ben carson was left sweating in the spotlight. new details on the run away top secret military blimp. and security teams on the ground. one of the youngest members of modern history prepares to become history as the former longest serving house speaker prepares for jail. and prince harry takes by storm. and americans will spend $350 million on pet costumes this year. "early today" starts right now. good morning and thanks for waking up with us.
president attacking the media and each other. >> reporter: donald trump did not dominate but he got the first tough question on his plan to build a wall and cut taxes 10 trillion. >> let's be honest, is this a common book version of a presidential campaign? >> no, not a comic book. and it's not a very nice question. we're going to let people come in but legally. >> reporter: and ben carson was in the hot seat for his flat tax plan. >> what analysis got you to think this could work? >> 15%. and you have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes p. >> these plans would put us trillions and trillions of dollars in debt.