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Savings squad: How to save up to $1,000 a month

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(PIX11) -- Does the thought of saving $1,000 a month send your heart a-flutter, but seem like you’d need a miracle to accomplish it?

Personal finance guide Nicole Lapin, author of “Rich Bitch,” is helping three New York City women set and achieve their financial goals.

Shaniqua wants to buy her own home, but has a spending problem. Jamie is a stay at home mom hoping for a retirement account to call her own. And Carrie left her job but craves savings security.

Over brunch at Brooklyn’s IM Pastry Studio, they met Lapin.

The first item she attacked: monthly bills. She said studies have shown we are spending about $350 extra on our cellphone bills.

“All of that stuff is negotiable and that’s really easy money,” she said.

Paying extra on bills does not only apply to phones, but cable and even medical bills.

Shrinking those bills could be as simply as “calling and saying, ‘This is as much as I can pay,’ and seeing what they can do for you,” Lapin said.

To save, Lapin advises following the “Three E’s”:

  • 70 percent for essentials, like rent, utilities and insurance
  • 15 percent to end-game retirement and savings
  • 15 percent to extras

She said to keep those “extras” in cash -- that way, “when the cash is gone, the party’s over.”

To save, Lapin insists on setting up an automatic monthly debit direct to your bank account.

Shaniqua said her new goal is to rent and focus on saving money.

“And setting money aside so I can play with and won’t binge,” she said.

Carrie Pink, a mother of four, recently left her full-time job after a decade. She is one tough budgeter.

“I challenged everyone I knew to save $1,000 a month,” she said.

Then she saved even more -- and fattened up her retirement account.

“I spent 2 years building up retirement by putting away 30 percent,” she said.

Still, Nicole found some skeletons in Carrie’s spreadsheets.

“Why do you have hulu Netflix and cable?” Lapin asked with a smile and a shake of her head.

She also discovered that Pink’s husband is paying $25 to Capital One -- the minimum.

The fix? Lapin said only have one cable or movie service. And have the uncomfortable talk with hubby on dealing with his debt. Plus, add some income from creative sources.

“I would love to see you get maybe $800 in freelance income,” Lapin said, suggesting E-Lance, Odesk and TaskRabbit as possible options.

Next? Jamie, the stay at home mom who feels she has no control over finances.
“There’s no retirement plan for a stay at home mom,” she said.

Lapid said every woman needs to build her own retirement account first, then the kids’ college funds.

While Jamie does some freelance work, she needs to look everywhere for places to make extra money, like selling extra belongings on Craigslist.

Following a few rules sprinkled with creativity and you’re on your way to saving.

To boost your savings further, click here to learn more about NYC's SaveUSA Account, which matches your savings account deposit at 50 percent, if you quality.