Yearly Archives:2015

MFG Welcomes Katie Martin

Katie Martin 2We’re pleased to announce Katie Martin, Financial Advisor and owner of Martin Financial Solutions, has joined The Musuneggi Financial Group.

Katie is a great fit for our family because, like us, she keeps clients at the heart of everything she does. Read more about Katie here.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Katie and stop by to say hello during next week’s Open House:

 

OPEN HOUSE

Thursday, July 30
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM

1910 Cochran Road
Manor Oak Two, Suite 520
Pittsburgh, PA 15220

Stop by our offices and meet Katie!

Light food & refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP to Chrissy by Tuesday, July 28
ChrissyG@mfgplanners.com
412-341-2888 ext. 312

How Can The Musuneggi Financial Group Help You with Insurance?

life insYou know us as your family of financial professionals: the folks you call when you need help with your budgeting, investing, and life planning.

Retirement? That’s us. Planning to pay for a new home or college or a wedding? Yep, we’re on your team. Ready to take care of estate planning? Call us today!

But did you also know we are a licensed insurance firm? Hi, it’s great to meet you. But this isn’t a new development; we’ve been helping clients to identify and cover their insurance needs from the beginning.

When it comes to life, disability, health, life settlement, and long-term care insurance, call us if you have it or even if you just want to learn more about your options. We can review your existing policies and look for ways you might be able to save money or fill in coverage gaps. And for small business owners, we can help with group plans and voluntary supplemental programs.

So now when you think about The Musuneggi Financial Group, remember that your family of financial professionals is also your family of insurance professionals!

Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi Begins Term as President of NAIFA-PA

CPM 2 June 2015Join us in congratulating Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC®, CLTC, on starting her term as President of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Pennsylvania (NAIFA-PA). Her term began July 1, 2015, and Christine is only the second female state president in the history of the state association. She is also the first president from the Pittsburgh association since 2008. Previously, she was the youngest female president of the Pittsburgh association.

As President, Christine will oversee 19 NAIFA associations across the state and 1213 members. She will lead the Executive Board in its advocacy efforts, which include working as liaison between congressional leaders and financial and insurance advisors.

Christine is excited to bring NAIFA’s annual conference to Nemacolin Woodlands, where one key focus will be creating opportunities for the next generation of advisors: “We aren’t only preserving our industry, we are ensuring fresh ideas-especially as they relate to technology-and our connection to a younger audience aren’t lost. Succession planning is such a large part of what we do for our clients, and we need to practice what we preach.”

Christine was also recognized as July’s Member of the Month by Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship.

How Can Parents Help Adult Children with Financial Issues?

family3There are times as a parent when you realize that your job is not to be the parent you always imagined you’d be, the parent you always wished you had. Your job is to be the parent your child needs, given the particulars of his or her own life and nature.” ~Ayelet Waldman

 

 

For those of us who have children, the months of May and June, with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remind us how important we are in our children’s lives. My mother used to tell me that “When God turns a mother on, he never turn her off.” So we are always the parent. It doesn’t matter how active we are in their lives, or how far away they live, or how independent they are; being a parent starts at birth and goes on and on in some way or another.

Some of the most difficult conversations that we have with our clients about their financial situations are those that have to do with parents who are caring for adult children. This situation may arise because the children have health issues or special needs; lost a job; went through a divorce; incurred bad debts; or made lifestyle choices that have brought them back to being a dependent in some way. And this situation takes many forms: the children may live with the parent; they may live on their own but can’t afford the bills; they may have incurred debt they cannot pay; or they may have asked the parent to cosign for college costs, their first house, or some other financial need.  And with the recent recession, jobs being scarce, foreclosures hitting all time highs, and student debt soaring, it isn’t uncommon for adult children to take refuge in the homes of their parents.

In the end, it doesn’t matter why the children are dependent as adults; what we try to focus on is how the parents can best manage once again assuming the job of caretaker to the child in their adult life.  All parents can probably understand this situation, even if they don’t agree with it.

In most cases, the issue with supporting an adult child is that it may be detrimental to the parents’ financial health and detrimental to the child’s financial independence.  Unless the parents’ funds are unlimited, this choice comes with serious potential consequences.

But you are a paremom daughternt. And you want to help. Or you have a child who, for health reasons, you will always need to be there to help. As in most situations, there is a right and wrong way to help.

A parent providing a monthly income is a wrong approach. It will end when you do…and then what will happen? Parents providing a significant down payment on a house for the child is another wrong approach. If your child is buying a home and cannot afford the down payment, chances are this is a house the child cannot afford. Providing all the money to help the child start a business is another wrong approach. This makes you a partner in the business, and if it defaults the creditors will come after you for the money. Finally, reducing your retirement assets to provide money to the child is a wrong approach. A serious family meeting should occur before this is even a consideration. Your financial health is at risk; and if you have other children, the continuity of the family can be jeopardized if one child is favored over another.

But…if you have adequate assets, gifting from you to your children may be a great idea. Loans to a child for a business or home purchase may also be the right thing to do. Drawing up a contract and charging interest on the loan is a good idea and it can work well. If you have multiple children, reducing the dependent child’s portion of your estate may also be right. Not only is it a lesson learned, but other children who have not received help are more likely to feel they have been treated fairly. The “Sink or Swim” approach can be a good idea, too. It might sound a little heartless and unfair, but if you are providing assets and financial assistance for a child, you need to believe that when the time comes when you are out of assets and need help, they will be there for you in return.  If this isn’t likely to happen, then “Sink or Swim” could be the right thing to do. Establishing special needs trusts may also be the right approach because they can keep you financially secure and help your child in the short- and long-term.

The fact is, as parents we want to help our children with their financial situations and we think this is what any good parent would do. Just remember: Helping our children with their financial situations by teaching financial responsibility, modeling wise financial decisions, and making them independent is what makes a good parent great. 

What is Your Most Important Asset?

From www.LifeHappens.com

Can you name your most important asset? If you said your home, your car, your jewelry, or other possessions…guess again.

It’s your ability to earn a living.

Think about it: All of your plans for the future–from buying a home to putting your kids through college to building a retirement nest egg–are based on the assumption you will continue to earn a paycheck until you retire.

But what would happen if those paychecks stopped?

That’s where disability insurance comes in. It provides an income for you and your family if you are unable to work because of illness or injury.

At 45, attorney Peter Zatir attributed the fatigue he was feeling to middle age. Add to that a busy law practice and five active kids-the youngest just a year old-and it’s easy to see how he could have written off the early signs of a serious illness. When he finally visited his doctor, the diagnosis was grim. He had an aggressive form of thyroid cancer and was given less than a year to live. As Peter lay awake at night, his financial situation was one thing he didn’t lose sleep over. Watch his story to find out why…

And if you have any questions about disability insurance, call us at 412-341-2888 or email info@mfgplanners.com.

More Than Money: Creative Financial Gifts for Graduates

 Graduation group“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you don’t want.”  ~ Kevin Ngo

 

 

 

 

More Than Money: Creative Financial Gifts for Graduates

By: Mary Grace Musuneggi
 

I always used to find it difficult to come up with a creative gift idea when I was invited to birthday, anniversary, and graduation parties. Rather than give the obvious “money in an envelope,” I wanted to offer something more permanent. And sometimes it was not appropriate to give money, no matter how appreciated it might be.

So over the years I have taken note of what others give at these times and kept a list of good ideas. With graduations, both college and high school, right around the corner, I pulled out some clever and financially-focused ideas from that list to share with you.

Of course, there is always the contribution to a 529 for the high school graduate, or a US Savings Bond or Direct Stock Reinvestment Plans for any graduate. You can even make a contribution to an IRA or a Roth IRA for the working student. Something always appreciated is paying off a student’s credit card bill; or for college graduates, you might make the deposit on their first month’s rent or buy the outfit for their first day at work. These are creative variations on the cash gift.

Books on personal finance are always a good idea, too, and they abound on Amazon. Some of my favorites are by Dave Ramsey, and one of the most unusual financial books I like is Consequences: A Unique Approach to Financial Planning for Young Adults, by John Blankenship. This book is not the typical “Investing 101” text, but more of a lesson that teaches young people about financial decisions by exploring consequences associated with the choices they make.

I have a friend who gives board games with her gift of money. These are usually Monopoly or The Game of Life–games that make a statement about handling finances and life. Some more unusual ones are Rich Dad Cashflow 101 board game, by Rich Dad Poor Dad; I’m Debt Free Game by GMB Products; and Charge Large by Hasbro.

And a more personal option is to purchase a session with a Financial Consultant. A first-time session should cover Budgeting, Use of Credit, Investing 101, as well as planning for future goals such as home ownership or retirement.

Whatever the gift, the fact is obvious that all graduates need money. But more importantly, they need to learn how to manage that money wisely. A unique or fun approach beyond the “money in the envelope” might get them thinking about good money management early. And the earlier the better.

 

10 Ways to Screw Up When Picking Life Insurance Beneficiaries

babyBy Barbara Marquand

This article first appeared at www.insure.com
 

Naming who should get the life insurance money after you die sounds simple, but designating beneficiaries can get tricky. Mistakes are common, financial advisers say — and they can be heartbreaking and expensive. When mistakes are made “you’re not creating problems for you,” says Keith Friedman, principal of FBO Strategies, an estate planning and insurance firm in Stamford, Conn. “You’re creating problems for the people you leave behind.”

Here are 10 life insurance beneficiary mistakes to avoid.

1. Naming a minor child

Life insurance companies won’t pay the proceeds directly to minors. If you haven’t created a trust or made any legal arrangements for someone to manage the money, the court will appoint a guardian, a costly process, to handle the proceeds until the child reaches 18 or 21, depending on the state.

Instead, you can leave the money for the child’s benefit to a reliable adult; set up a trust to benefit the child and name the trust as the beneficiary of the policy; or name an adult custodian for the life insurance proceeds under the Uniform Transfers to Minor Act. Consult an estate attorney to decide the best course.

2. Making a dependent ineligible for government benefits

Naming a lifelong dependent, such as a child with special needs, as beneficiary puts the loved one at risk for losing eligibility for government assistance. Anyone who receives a gift or inheritance of more than $2,000 is disqualified for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, under federal law.

Work with an attorney to set up a special needs trust, and name the trust as beneficiary. A trustee you appoint will manage the money for the dependent’s benefit.

Here’s more on life insurance planning for parents of children with special needs.

3. Overlooking your spouse in a community-property state

Generally you can name anyone with whom you have a relationship as beneficiary, even a secret lover.

“Life insurance is not a judge of someone’s morals,” Friedman says.

However, in community-property states, your spouse typically would have to sign a form waiving rights to the money if you designate anyone else as beneficiary. Community-property states are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin.

4. Falling into a tax trap

Life insurance death benefits are generally tax-free — except when three different people play the roles of policy owner, the insured and the beneficiary. In that case, the death benefit could count as a taxable gift to the beneficiary, says Amy Rose Herrick, a Chartered Financial Consultant and life insurance agent with offices in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Tecumseh, Kan.

Say, for instance, a wife owns a life insurance policy on her husband’s life and names their adult daughter as beneficiary. The wife effectively is creating a gift of the policy proceeds to her daughter, Herrick says. The person who makes the gift — the wife — is the one who would be subject to the tax, if the amount of the gift exceeds federal limits.

The problem could be avoided in most cases by having the husband own the policy, insuring himself. However the situation can get tricky in community-property states. Consult a financial adviser to decide the best way to structure the policy.

5. Assuming your will trumps the policy

A life insurance policy is a contract. Regardless of what your will says, the life insurance money will be paid to the beneficiary listed on the policy. That’s why it’s important to contact your insurer to change your beneficiary if needed.

See more information on wills vs. life insurance policies: Who’s the boss?

6. Forgetting to update

“Designating beneficiaries are not ‘set it and forget it’ events,” says Tara Reynolds, vice president at MassMutual. You should review your policy every three years and after major life events, such as marriage, having children or divorce. Change the beneficiaries when circumstances change.

Unfortunately, many people forget to do so.

“Half of my practice is second or third marriages,” says Peter Blatt, a tax attorney and financial adviser in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “It’s not uncommon to find the ex-spouse still listed as beneficiary on the life insurance policy” when reviewing a client’s portfolio.

7. Neglecting Details

Be specific when you name beneficiaries. Instead of “my children,” list their names, Social Security numbers and addresses, says Ed Graves, a professor of insurance at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Otherwise, “the insurance company has to launch a search and that can take a lot of time,” Graves says.

When naming multiple beneficiaries, decide whether you want the money divided “per stirpes,” which means by branch of the family, or per capita, which means by head.

8. Staying mum

“The most important thing is to tell someone so they know you have a life insurance policy, where it is and how to find it,” says Joshua Hazelwood, vice president at MassMutual.

Open communication with beneficiaries now can save a family from chaos later – or even worse, never claiming the benefit.

9. Giving money with no strings attached

Naming your young-adult children as beneficiaries without setting any conditions for how the money is dispersed can be a setup for financial failure. How many 18- or 21-year-olds can handle a huge influx of cash? One way is to set up a trust with specifics for how the money can be released and what it can be used for until the young adult reaches a certain age.

“It allows me as a parent to instill what I feel is valued in my absence,” Friedman says. “I don’t want to leave my children with millions of dollars when they’re 18 with unfettered access.”

Insurers are beginning to introduce policies that let you arrange for the death benefit to be paid out in installments. Minnesota Life Insurance Co.’s new indexed universal life product, Omega Builder IUL, includes that option, calling it an “income protection agreement.”

10. Naming only a primary beneficiary

“Most people just think they’re going to make their spouse beneficiary, but don’t take into account the spouse might predecease them,” Friedman says. “It’s conceivable that something would happen to you and your spouse together.”

Blatt says he even sees cases where people fail to name any beneficiaries. When there is no living beneficiary, the life insurance benefit typically goes into the estate and is subject to probate. That leads to two complications. One, heirs might face a long wait to get the money. Two, the life insurance proceeds, which normally would be protected from creditors, can now be open to creditors’ claims.

Advisers recommend naming secondary and final beneficiaries. If the primary beneficiary dies before you do, then the money passes to the secondary beneficiary. If the secondary beneficiary has passed away when you die, then the death benefit goes to the final beneficiary.

Financial Advisors do not provide specific tax/legal advice and this information should not be considered as such. You should always consult your tax/legal advisor regarding your own specific tax/legal situation. Securities & Investment Advisory Services Offered Through H. Beck, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC. H Beck, Inc. and The Musuneggi Financial Group, LLC are not affiliated.  

 

Thoughtful Spending: From “Gotta Have It” to “Gotta Think It Over”

photodune-8751997-paper-coffee-cups-in-rows-sThe price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

It is not unusual for clients to tell us that they find it hard to keep on budget, or they find it impossible to come up with additional funds for savings and investing, or they just always seem to overspend.

 

When we delve further, we often find that impulse buying and those “little things” are to blame.

 

Impulse buying is purchasing items you just happen to see. These are not on your shopping list; they are not necessities; they are not budgeted. But there they are, staring at you as you wait in the checkout line, or hanging on the mannequin as you pass by, or jumping out at you as you browse the store. Even harder to ignore are those items that pop up on your computer screen or cry out to you from Amazon or Google. Merchants count on you seeing and buying. And without a great amount of discipline, it is difficult to avoid the temptations.

 

Spending money on daily or weekly “little things” reminds us that impulse buys can become habitual expenses. Think about the “little things” you spend your money on every day. Purchasing unnecessary items such as lattes, bottled water, fast food, cigarettes, magazines, and so on can be a significant waste of money. Chances are you don’t even realize how much you’re actually spending on these seemingly “little” purchases.

 

So how can you get all of this under control?

 

Some strategies can be used while you’re shopping. Before you take out that cash-or worse, the credit card-to make a purchase, take out your smartphone instead. Take a picture of what you are thinking of buying and walk away. Wait until the next day to look at the photo. In most cases, the impulse will have passed.  

 

When buying online, most sites allow you to use a wish list or add items to a shopping cart for future purchase. Do this and then wait one day. The item you have to have today probably won’t be a “must have” tomorrow. And if the urge to buy it is still there, consider what you earn at work on an hourly basis and calculate how many hours of your life you will need to exchange to buy the item.

 

If that doesn’t do it and it is really something you would like to have, decide what you need to do to pay for the item in cash rather than credit. Saving the cash to make the purchase will again delay the impulse, and once you have accumulated the cash you may decide to use it for something more worthwhile.

 

It’s also important to think long-term. Start by honestly identifying those “little” expenses and considering whether you could redirect that spending somewhere else. For those little items that you buy out of habit, take the picture, print it out, and for one month list on the picture the item’s cost and how many times you bought it. At the end of the month, total your cost and multiply by 12. What amount of money are you really spending for those “little” things? Are they worth the cost? Could you have used the money more wisely? Could you substitute a more cost effective option?

 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to thinking before you buy. A purchase delayed could be a purchased denied, and most likely that’s a good thing.

Who Needs A Business Valuation?

small business ownersIn the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” ~Warren Buffett

Who Needs A Business Valuation?

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

Recently I read an article by Steven Parish, contributor to Forbes Magazine, called “If You Value Your Business, You Should Value Your Business.” In it, he argues that “business valuation is a process done by professionals, but it’s a product the business owner needs to understand.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we encourage all business owners to meet with us for a complimentary informal Business Valuation. For most individuals, their largest asset is likely their home or their 401k plan. For business owners, however, the largest asset they have could be their business. More importantly, their business is their source of income and probably an asset that will be part of their retirement planning.

 

Now it may seem like you do not really need to value your business until you are ready to sell it or ready to retire, but as with any asset, knowing its value comes in handy more often than you might think.

 

What if someone makes you an offer for your business? What if you become disabled, die, file for divorce, or decide to buy another business? What if an employee eventually wants to take over or buy into the business? What if you are preparing to take a business loan or expand the current business? What if you are designing a buy-sell agreement or doing your Estate Planning? How do you know if the value of the business has grown over the last year?

 

All of this is even more important if you are a family owned business. “Family owned” might sound like it just means you have employed your son and your daughter, but your business qualifies as family owned if the business comprises more than 50 percent of your total estate and you pass the estate on to a “qualified heir.”

 

Determining the value of your business is also a key step in your Estate Planning process. Because the business is part of your estate, the valuation is needed to estimate the estate taxes; this helps you to calculate the cash or liquidity needed to administer the estate.

 

Don’t wait to find out what your business is worth. Find out now, so you’re prepared for whatever changes lie ahead. To learn more about determining your business’ value, contact us at 412-341-2888. We are happy to meet with you to answer your questions and get you started with a complimentary informal Business Valuation.

 

MFG Honored to Receive Firm & Advisor Recognition – Wealth Watch – February 2015

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  ~ Jane Goodall 
 

The Musuneggi Financial Group Honored to Receive Firm and Advisor Recognition

 

Each of us at The Musuneggi Financial Group takes great pride in our work. Our priority is providing excellent guidance and service to our clients, and you let us know we are meeting that mark every time you share a kind word or share our name with a friend who might also benefit from working with us. It is our honor to help you work toward your financial goals–from budgeting to investing to planning for your milestones, and everything in between, we love being a part of your journey! This year, we are also honored to be recognized in two more ways…  

 

Four Advisors Win 2015 Five Star Wealth Manager Awards 

 

Congratulations are in order for Mary Grace Musuneggi, Christopher S. Musuneggi, Rosalind Frazier, and Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, all recipients of the 2015 Five Star Wealth Manager Award. The Five Star Award recognizes an exclusive group of Pittsburgh wealth managers who provide quality services to their clients. Mary Grace first won the Five Star Award in 2012. This marks the third consecutive year Christopher has won the Five Star Wealth Manager Award, and it is the second consecutive Five Star Wealth Manager Award for Rosalind. Look for their Five Star Award announcement in the July issue of Pittsburgh Magazine.

 
MaryGraceWebchris 40u40RozWebIMG_6699

 

 

 

 

 

MFG Named to Pittsburgh Business Times’ Largest Area Investment Firms List

Each year, the Pittsburgh Business Times names our area’s 25 largest investment firms and takes a closer look at the firms who “just missed the list.” The Musuneggi Financial Group is proud to be listed as #30 this year.  See the full list in the January 30, 2015 issue of the Pittsburgh Business Times.