Money Talks with Jim Cramer

Jim Cramer remembers the moment he became a millionaire—and why his mom called it 'embarrassing'

Jim Cramer on the moment he made his first $1 million
Jim Cramer on the moment he made his first $1 million

Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money," became a millionaire at just 28 years old. He was thrilled — "but not as thrilled as you'd think," he tells CNBC Make It.

That's because making a lot of money isn't what's most important in life, Cramer, now 67, says. 

Cramer didn't always feel that way, however: Working in sales at Goldman Sachs in 1984, his goal was to get rich and "be successful at the pinnacle of capitalism." 

"My second paycheck, I made $300,000. And then in the next one, I made $750,000," says Cramer. "I couldn't believe it. But I was so grateful. Goldman did that for me."

Proud to have made a million dollars, Cramer visited his parents to share the news. But he didn't get the reaction he was looking for, particularly from his mom, an artist, who was dying of cancer at that time.  

"I thought she'd be so proud of me," says Cramer. "I said, 'Mom, I'm a millionaire!' And she was in a stage of her life where she was, let's just say, not subtle, given the fact that the clock was ticking. She said, 'You, my son, are embarrassing me and embarrassing yourself. Is that what it is — was it always about the money?'"

"No, Mom, I'm just proud," Cramer said. 

"Why? Be proud if you wrote something great. Be proud if you were an artist," Cramer recalls his mom saying. "Don't be proud because you made money."

"And I remember my father arguing, 'Well, you know, Jimmy never had any money, we never had any money, this is great,'" says Cramer. 

His mother replied, "When I leave this earth, if this is what it's about, I was a failure."

"And I never forgot it," Cramer says. "My ma said, 'When you've really made some money, stop; go be a writer.'"

Cramer did end up writing: He has authored or contributed to a dozen books about investing, and now writes daily stock updates for the CNBC Investing Club.

And in 1996, he co-founded, a financial news website, before eventually becoming the host of "Mad Money," which first aired in 2005. The mission statement of the show is to provide "the knowledge and the tools that will empower you to be a better investor."

"I have written 3,000 words a day for 20 years. I'd like to think that what she'd be proud of was my writing. My dad was proud that I made money in the market," Cramer says. "But money isn't everything."

To learn more about investing, you can join the CNBC Investing Club with Jim Cramer at a discounted rate.

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