3 Must-Haves Before Building Wealth

Every house needs a foundation. That was Cramer’s message for the first segment of tonight’s Mad Money. Before you start dreaming of building long-term wealth, you first have to make sure the basics are covered. Don’t even think about buying stocks – or any other financial vehicles, for that matter – until you’ve done these three things.

Pay Down Your Credit-Card Debt – All of It

Most likely, the interest you’re paying on your credit cards far outweighs what you’re making on stocks. So unless investing is merely a hobby, your debt is effectively canceling out any gains you’re making in the market. So as trite as this bit of advice may seem – you’ve heard it before, no doubt – make sure you follow it.

Get Health Insurance

Medical emergencies are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in this country, Cramer said. So don’t invest a penny in stocks until you have health insurance. This especially goes for that younger college demo that feels invincible. You’re not. One illness, a couple of hospital visits – they can destroy the capital you have.

Get Disability Insurance

The same principles apply. Any money you’ve earned through stocks can be wiped out with one bad accident.

Mad Money’s normal focus is capital appreciation. But Cramer will be the first person to point out just how important capital preservation is. Sure, on bad market days he’ll extol the virtues of so-called safety stocks like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola , but these three recommendations are the best ways to hold onto your money.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website? madcap@cnbc.com