In his more than 30 years of investing, Jim Cramer has witnessed even the best investors in tears after a market-wide decline.
In order to conquer a sell-off, he said, investors must first circle the wagons around the stocks in their portfolio that they really like and leave the weak ones in the dust.
That means knowing the difference between a when hunting for bargains during a sell-off.
"A correction is just a megasale on stocks, no different than what you might find on all kinds of things at your Sam's Club any day of the week," the "Mad Money" host said.
After those steps are covered, it's time to get into the nitty gritty of the specific types of stocks that Cramer scoops up during a downturn. The good news is that the more brutal the sell-off is, the more attractive these stocks will look.
His first approach is to look for stocks that have pulled back from their highs during the sell-off. The new-high list is always a great place to start looking. Stocks on that list also tend to be expensive, which is why a big decline may be an opportunity.
Specifically, he looks for the stocks that were knocked off the new-high list and are trading a couple of percentage points from their 52-week high. Those will be the money magnets of the market.
However, Cramer warned that not all of it will be worth buying. Some may come off the list because they are damaged goods. So, homework is still important.
The second kind of stock that Cramer looks for during a gigantic sell-off is the type with dividends that become more attractive as their share prices go lower. Just as the 52-week high list is useful for stocks on a downturn, also keep a shopping list of stocks to buy if only their dividends were a little higher.
What does a market correction have to do with a dividend or yield?
When a market correction occurs, the price of the stock goes down and the yield goes up. Cramer loves it when a sell-off is so severe that an "accidental high-yielder" is created.
He refers to those stocks that didn't intend on being a dividend play, but have fallen so hard that the dividend yield has suddenly become meaningful or a way for the stock to have a quick bounce back.
"I know dividend investing isn't sexy, but believe me when I tell you that nobody ever woke up unhappy the next morning after bringing home a stock with a big dividend," Cramer said.
So, for those that are more conservative, Cramer says the best bet is to go for stocks that will practically guarantee money accumulation. That is exactly what a dividend does.
Cramer considers a sell-off as an opportunity to buy some of the best stocks out there, especially those that have just pulled off their highs and stocks that have fat yields thanks to the decline. Those are the best places to bargain hunt in a decline.