Yearly Archives:2014

The Most Wonderful Time…2014 Toys for Tots Drive

IMG_5861 (800x533)We truly have an amazing group of clients, colleagues, friends, and family who come together every November and December to make our Toys for Tots drive a great success. It was wonderful to once again see our front office fill with toys, and we had so much fun celebrating with you all last Thursday!

Thank you to everyone who donated, and to the South Fayette Student Government members and advisors who came to “stuff a bus” with all of the toys. And we’d like to extend an extra special thank you to the “elves” who volunteered their time to put together the bikes and trikes and other toys that needed to be assembled. You all helped to make this the most wonderful time of the year here at The Musuneggi Financial Group!

Click here to see more photos from our Toys for Tots Holiday Party!

 

 

 

 

Support Small Business Saturday 2014!

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Here at The Musuneggi Financial Group, we know first-hand the value of supporting our community’s small businesses.

Not too long ago, our Vice President of Operations, Rosalind Frazier, shopped for new tires. A national chain advised her to purchase four tires at a cost of $700. This seemed expensive, and as Rosalind considered her options she remembered that throughout her childhood her father went to a privately owned tire company on the South Side when he needed new tires. Her father was a city firefighter, and she recalled him saying this place treated firefighters very well.

Rosalind drove to the local shop and spoke with the owner, who inspected her tires and determined she really only needed two new tires; the other two were still good and would make it through another Pittsburgh winter. He changed the tires on the spot, and the total cost was $250. Shopping locally saved Rosalind $450 that day, and that savings came with the added value of honest and friendly customer service.

We often think that large companies are more competitive because of their buying power, and in some cases that may be so. But before you walk past the local, family-owned small business assuming it is more expensive, stop in and see for yourself. You have nothing to lose and something to gain: the hidden advantage of local small businesses is often excellent, personal customer service.

This Saturday, November 29th, is Small Business Saturday. Whether you need to buy or not, visit the small businesses in your community. They will be more than happy to meet their “neighbors.”

Celebrating another great year of Friends Helping Friends…

IMG_4360 (640x427)We had a wonderful time celebrating at the 2014 Friends Helping Friends Grand Slam Gala! It was an evening full of great conversation, delicious food, stellar views of PNC Park and the city…and of course our new friend, the Pirate Parrot.

Have you seen the photos yet? Be sure to check them out at: http://www.mfgplanners.com/fhf2014/

(Who knew a big green bird could be so photogenic?)

To all our 2014 Friends Helping Friends members, thank you for being part of our All-Star Team this year!

We hope all of our current Friends Helping Friends members will return next year, and we’d love to bring some new faces on board, too! You may become a 2015 Friends Helping Friends member by referring someone you know—a family member, friend, colleague…even someone you’ve just met!—to The Musuneggi Financial Group.

We are already working on the 2015 plans…stay tuned for updates on the new theme and venue for next year’s Friends Helping Friends Gala!

The Rewards of Paying Cash

MaryGraceWebBy: Mary Grace Musuneggi

Who of us uses cash today to pay for anything? We use credit, or debit, or Paypal, or maybe even checks. Some might think it is not safe to carry too much cash. and some that they can’t keep track of cash as well as credit card purchases.

 But recently, with the many security issues for credit card purchasers and identity theft for debit card users, carrying cash may be a safer way to go. Also, I have had debt counselors tell me that they highly recommend that their clients use cash, as that seems to make it harder for them to buy random, impulse purchases.

My friend, Tom, almost always uses cash. Never a debit card and rarely a credit card. Like many of us, he was raised by parents in the “good ole days” where credit cards were non-existent; purchasing things they could not afford to pay for in cash did not happen; and owing any one any amount of money, except a mortgage, was frowned upon. So he pays in cash.

The first reward for this is that he is never in debt. Secondly, he pays no interest to a lender. But the third reward is that he actually saves money. At the end of the day, after having paid cash, Tom deposits his change into a tin can. (Another habit he learned from his parents.) As the can gets filled it goes into a large can…and a larger can still. The most recent can was so heavy that it broke a closet shelf. So it was time to pour it all into two buckets and go off to the bank to deposit the coins.

In past years he would have had to roll all of the coins into wrappers, but his current bank has a machine that allows him to pour in the coins and then the total is added to his savings account. No fee to do this.

As he stood filling the machine over and over, a mother with her very young daughter came in behind him. The little girl had a one pound coffee can with coins. When Tom saw her, he apologized because she would probably have to wait a little while as he finished with his coins. Her mother used the moment as a learning tool, telling the little girl, “This is ok, we can wait, and someday, if you keep saving your coins, you will be able to come here with a big bucket of coins, too.”

So the morals of the story:

  • Pay cash….save your change.
  • Financial habits of our parents can have a great impact on our views of money.
  • Learning to save early is a great lesson for children.
  • Paying cash can bring many rewards

By the way, this small strategy netted Tom enough money to go on a great vacation….for which he will pay cash.

Life Insurance 101

lifehappens videoLife insurance…

How much do you need?

What will it cover?

How can you get it?

Before you ask these important questions, it helps to know the basics. In about a minute and a half, this Life Insurance 101 video will provide you with an easy, direct introduction to what life insurance is and how it works.

Then when you’re ready to ask the big questions above, we can help you to find the answers.

Avoiding Phone Scams

cell phoneWe are reposting this message from Senator Matt Smith—we thought it was useful and hope you do, too!

Do Not Call List: Step 1 to Avoid Phone Scams

Recently, I’ve heard from a number of constituents who are receiving unwanted telephone calls from telemarketers and others asking for personal information or claiming to be representatives of government agencies or businesses. As part of my ongoing efforts to provide constituents with the necessary tools and information to combat identity theft and fraud schemes, below you will find information about how scammers may obtain your personal information, and ways you can protect yourself. If you are receiving these kinds of calls, the first step you should take is to make sure you are signed up for both the federal and Pennsylvania Do Not Call lists. These lists are maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and bar telemarketers from calling the numbers registered on the list.

  • You can sign up for the federal Do Not Call list by visiting www.DoNotCall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
  • To register your number on the Pennsylvania Do Not Call list, you can visit this link or call 1-888-777-3406.

If you continue to receive calls after enrolling, you should inform the caller that you are registered on the Do Not Call lists and report to the FTC and Attorney General’s office that you received a call.

  • You can register a complaint with the FTC by visiting this link or by calling 1-888-225-5322
  • Complaints with the Attorney General’s office can be filed here or by calling 1-800-441-2555

While signing up for these lists should cut down on the number of unwanted calls you receive, they only apply to legitimate, registered telemarketing businesses and will not prevent scammers or would-be identity thieves from calling you.

Recent Scams and Ways to Protect Yourself

According to constituents who have contacted my offices and reports from the Attorney General’s office, individuals are calling homes claiming to be from credit card companies, utility providers, or government agencies such as the IRS or the Attorney General.

It can be difficult to figure out if a call is legitimate given the sophistication of some of these schemes. However, here are some trademark signs to look out for:

  • Many scammers rely on pressuring you to act, telling you that there is an emergency or a problem with an account. The caller might claim that there is an issue with your taxes, credit card or utility bills and that you must pay immediately to avoid penalties or service shutoffs.
  • The caller says you’ve won a prize, were specially selected, or won money in a foreign lottery, but to collect you must send money, provide a credit card or bank account number, or mail a check. They may even ask for your social security number to verify your identity.
  • Some scammers pretend to be law enforcement or lawyers. They may claim that there is a warrant for your arrest, that you have an outstanding ticket, or that a relative needs bail money.

It is important to note that first contact with the IRS, Attorney General’s office, or your utility providers will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. Likewise, the IRS and Attorney General will never ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

Many of these schemes are complicated and may seem legitimate. However, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

What You Can Do:

  • If you receive a call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it and if you do, don’t press 1 or any other numbers. Many scammers illegally use robocall devices to call thousands of random numbers. If a person answers the call, they know the number works and will likely continue to call.
  • Find out if your telephone provider permits you to block phone numbers. Many providers offer this as a free service. Blocking numbers you know are illegitimate can cut down on the number of unwanted calls received.
  • Never give out your personal information such as billing information, social security numbers, bank account and credit card numbers over the phone. Especially if you receive an unsolicited telephone call.
  • Never wire money or purchase prepaid cash cards in response to a telephone call, whether it is from a stranger or someone who claims to know you.
  • Do not overreact. If someone calls you asking for money for a friend or relative, verify everything and don’t let anyone rush you.
  • If the caller is claiming to be law enforcement, ask for their name and badge number then hang up and call the agency they claim to be from to verify that they are telling the truth.
  • If you have not received written notice from the IRS, Attorney General’s office, or your utility company about unpaid taxes, penalties, or service shut offs, then the call is likely illegitimate.
  • Never forget that you are in control. You can always hang up and call the advertised public number for any business or agency to verify that you received a genuine call.

It can be easy to fall prey to such schemes given their complexity. It is important to act immediately if you think you have been targeted.

Steps to Take If You May Be a Victim of Fraud or a Scam

  • Immediately notify local law enforcement, the Attorney General’s Office, FBI, and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Notify your bank or credit card company that your accounts may be compromised.
  • Stop payment on any checks you may have written or freeze your credit and debit cards.
  • Contact the three major credit reporting companies and put a fraud alert on your account

Please contact my office if you need any help or have any questions. My staff and I are available to assist you and connect you to existing resources. All of my offices have sample dispute letters for fraudulent charges on bank accounts or credit cards along with brochures about how to avoid fraud and identify theft.

I will be sure to provide updates on any new schemes as information becomes available. I will also continue to host informational seminars with the Attorney General’s office to help arm residents with the tools required to protect against identity theft and fraud along with free secure paper shredding events to help keep sensitive documents out of the hands of would-be identity thieves.

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Christopher S. Musuneggi Selected for 40 Under 40

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We have an exciting announcement to share with you — Christopher S. Musuneggi, our Vice President of Business Development, has been named to the Pittsburgh 40 Under 40 Class of 2014!

Each year, Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP sponsor the 40 Under 40 Program. Their goal is to recognize 40 people under the age of 40 who are committed to shaping our region and making it a better place for everyone to live, work and play.

We are thrilled to see Christopher recognized locally for his professional accomplishments and leadership in the community. Please join us in giving Christopher a well-deserved round of applause, and look for his feature in Pittsburgh Magazine’s November issue.

Name the New Baby…Beagle!

baby beagleThe Musuneggi Financial Group needs your help naming the newest addition to our family: this adorable pup.

As you may know, last year Mary Grace and her friend, Tom, lost their very special beagle, Duncan Oliver Watson Jones.

Now, this little guy is nearly ready to move in—but he still needs a name!

Can you help?

Cast your vote for one of these names—or suggest an alternative–by emailing Sara at sara@mfgplanners.com.

 __ Bentley

 __ Quincy

 __ Oliver

We’ll announce the results next month.

 

Can I Afford to Grow Old?

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

picnicDid you ever think you would ask yourself that question? But we hear it all the time. It usually comes after, “Can I afford to retire?”

Should I? Could I? What happens if I didn’t plan? What doesn’t happen if I did? Where do I begin? When should I start?

These questions abound as our clients move into pre-retirement…the senior years. And whether or not they take the time to get the answers, it doesn’t mean that the questions will disappear. If you don’t get the answers, someone else certainly will have to deal with the questions someday: Your spouse. Your children. Your caretaker.

Or the default option will be to let the government handle it all for you, as they take your assets as payment for doing the work that you should have done.

Over the last year we have begun a program we call The Family Legacy Initiative, encouraging our clients to address the issues of aging as well as “Having the Talk” with family members who will at some point need to be part of the process. Estate Planning, Final Expense/Pre-planning, Long Term Care planning, Medicare Planning, Gifting and Asset Protection are just a few of the concerns that should be addressed.

None of this is the “fun” stuff. But once the questions are answered then the fun stuff of enjoying the senior years can begin. The planning will be done. The questions will be answered. The kids will know what to do and they will be on board. The kids will know what you expect of them and what the costs will be. The financial worries will be addressed. The plans will be made the way you want them to be. The questions won’t remain to haunt you and your family day after day. The unanswered questions will not pop up every time there is an illness or a family dilemma.

Sometimes we hear people say that their answer to all the questions is that they simply will rely on their spouse to care for them, or more often, that they will rely on their children. But some studies show that if you are currently over age 65, you have almost a 70% chance of requiring long term care services and financial and medical support.* And although most children are glad to help when they can, many of them are not prepared to financially, physically, or emotionally to take on the responsibility of aging parents.

So how to begin? Because there is so much mis-information about issues of aging, and because even the government changes the rules for seniors and for estate planning periodically, the first thing to do is educate yourself about the basics.

Join us at our upcoming workshops:

Tuesday, August 26 –The Cost of Aging

Michael Baker – Target Insurance Services of PA

Thursday, September 25 –The Greatest Gift – Pre-Planning Your Final Arrangements

Patrick McGowan, Conroy Funeral Home

Tuesday, October 14 – What is Estate Planning And Why Should You Do It?

Tracy Zihmer, Feldstein, Grinberg, Lang & McKee

These can be a good start to having the Family Talk. So parents, bring your adult children; adult children bring your parents.

Attendees will receive a complimentary Long Term Care Analysis and an Estate Planning Review.

*The US Department of Health & Human Services (2013)

Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi Named 2014 President-Elect of NAIFA-PA

IMG_6699We are so pleased to announce MFG Financial Advisor Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC, CLTC, has been elected President-Elect of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Pennsylvania (NAIFA-PA).

Next year, Christine will be the second female state president in the history of the state association, and she will be the first president from the Pittsburgh association since 2008. Previously, she was the youngest female president of the Pittsburgh association. As President-Elect, her goal for the association is to focus on succession planning in advisory practices and the industry. In the year leading up to NAIFA’s annual conference, which Christine plans to hold in Pittsburgh in 2015, she will focus on growth opportunities for young advisors: “By mentoring college graduates and young people into the business, we are preserving our industry and placing a focus on the longevity of planning.”

Please join is in congratulating Christine on this well-deserved honor!

Look for Christine’s recent feature articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Business Times.