Cramer’s 3 simple strategies for plumper portfolio

Cramer's 3 top ideas for college grads

(Click for video linked to a searchable transcript of this Mad Money segment)

Jim Cramer knows a thing or three about making money. And he's confident what works for him will work for you, too.

Although these strategies can be leveraged by investors of all ages, Cramer thinks they're particularly effective for young people who are relatively new to investing.

Over a lifetime, he says, they can increase returns, significantly.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Strategy #1 – Fool yourself into saving

Jim Cramer understands that saving money isn't nearly as much fun as spending it. Therefore, rather than look at stocks as boring investments, he says you should view stocks as coveted purchases, much like a new flat screen TV or fancy sports car. That is, do research and find a price that you think is fair, then, when you get that price, pull the trigger.

"Stocks really can be a lot of fun," Cramer insisted, especially if you take the time to learn about what you own.

"Not only is this a terrific way to trick yourself into saving, but it has the added advantage of being the smartest place to put your money from a financial perspective," Cramer said.

Strategy #2 – Take calculated risks

"While you're still young, you can afford to take some risks," Cramer said.

Although appetite for risk varies from person to person, the "Mad Money" host believes that if you're relatively young, indulge yourself in "more speculative, single-digit stocks where the potential upside is huge."

Of course Cramer realizes if a stock is speculative, downside risk may be substantial too, but he feels if you take a calculated risk, invest money you can afford to lose, and do proper research then odds will be in your favor.

And, in the event the investment goes south, Cramer believes it will probably make you a better investor down the road, which should ultimately drive your returns.

One caveat; if you're an older investor, this 'trick' may not be for you. "Older investors have to be more cautious.  The closer you get to retirement, the more conservative your investing strategy has to be."

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Strategy #3 – Pay off credit cards

If you're carrying high interest rate debt on credit cards, Jim Cramer advocates paying down that debt before putting money to work in almost any financial instrument.

Because the average interest rates on a new credit card is about 15%, your investment must return more than 15% every year for you to just break-even. And Cramer doesn't see that happening, easily.

"Yes, it's true that last year the S&P 500 gave you a 32.3% return with dividends—much more than you'd be paying on even truly exorbitant credit card interest rates. But 2013 was an exceptional year," Cramer noted.

Largely the Mad Money host believes history is not on your side.

Bonus Strategy – Put some money toward retirement

"No matter how young you are, it's never too early to start investing for retirement," Cramer said.

Even if you're only able to put a little bit of money in a retirement account right now, over a lifetime it can grow to become a big amount of money.

And of course, if you work for a company that offers an employee match, Cramer believes in maxing out your contribution. "Why turn down free money?" he said.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com 

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