Yearly Archives:2019

Year-End Financial Checklist

Your Year-End Financial Checklist

Six aspects of your financial life to review as the year draws to a close.

Provided by Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi

year-end financial checklistThe end of the year can help remind us of last-minute things we need to address and long-term goals we want to accomplish. To that end, here are six aspects of your financial life to think about as this year leads into the next. 

Keep in mind, this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to conduct a tax or legal professional before modifying your tax strategy. The ideas presented are not intended to provide specific advice.

Your investments. Set a goal to review your investments with your financial professional. You’ll want to come away from the meeting with an understanding of your portfolio position. Review your approach to investing and make sure it suits your objectives. Look over your portfolio positions and revisit your asset allocation. Remember, asset allocation and diversification are approaches to help manage investment risk. They do not guarantee against investment loss.

Your retirement strategy. You may want to consider contributing the maximum to your retirement accounts. It’s also a good idea to review any retirement accounts you may have through your work. This is also a great time to decide on making catch-up contributions. 

Your tax situation. It’s a good idea to consider checking in with your tax or legal professional before the year ends, especially if you have questions about a 2019 expense or deduction. Also, it may be a good idea to review any sales of property as well as both realized and unrealized losses and gains. Look back at last year’s loss carryforwards. If you’ve sold securities, gather up cost-basis information. As always, bringing all this information to your financial professional is a smart move.

Your charitable gifting goals. Plan charitable contributions or contributions to education accounts and make any desired cash gifts to family members. The annual federal gift tax exclusion allows you to give away up to $15,000 in 2019, meaning you can gift as much as $15,000 to as many individuals as you like this year, tax free. Such gifts do not count against the lifetime estate tax exemption amount, as long as they stay beneath the annual federal gift tax exclusion threshold. 1,2 Besides outright gifts, you can explore creating and funding trusts on behalf of your family. The end of the year is also a good time to review any trusts you have in place. Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.

Your life insurance coverage. The end of the year is an excellent time to double-check that your  policies and beneficiaries are up to date. Don’t forget to review premium costs and beneficiaries and think about whether your insurance needs have changed. Several factors could impact the cost and availability of life insurance, such as age, health, and the type of insurance purchased as well as the amount purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, you may pay surrender charges, which could have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Finally, don’t forget that any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.

Life events. Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating any large life changes in the last year: Did you happen to get married or divorced in 2019?   Did you move or change jobs?   Did you buy a home or business? Was there a new addition to your family this year? Did you receive an inheritance or a gift? All these circumstances can have a financial impact on your life as well as the way you invest and plan for retirement and wind down your career or business.

Contact Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi at 412-341-2888 x314, by email or schedule an appointment. View Christine’s bio.

Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC®, CLTC, LACP Financial Planner
The Musuneggi Financial Group, LLC Manor Oak Two, Suite 520,1910 Cochran Road Pittsburgh PA 15220

 


This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities & Investment Advisory Services Offered Through H. Beck, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC. H. Beck, Inc., MarketingPro, Inc and The Musuneggi Financial Group, LLC are not affiliated. 

  

Citations:

1 – turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/estates/the-gift-tax-made-simple/L5tGWVC8N#:~:text=The%20annual%20federal%20gift%20tax,may%20be%20increased%20for%20inflation.) [11/22/18]

2 – irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/whats-new-estate-and-gift-tax[9/23/19]

Musuneggi Financial Group Earns Service Award

The Musuneggi Financial Group, a financial planning firm located in the south hills of Pittsburgh, was awarded for their “Superior Record of Community Service” by H. Beck, Inc. Christopher Musuneggi, the firm’s President accepted the award on behalf of the firm. An honorarium of $5,000 was given with the award which Musuneggi will present to the Salvation Army Pittsburgh Temple.
 
“We were pleased to receive recognition of our efforts with this award,” said Christopher Musuneggi, President. “Everyone at our firm, our clients and our community help us with our charitable efforts. 
 
In addition to work with the Salvation Army, The Musuneggi Financial Group supports and provides services to community organizations such as Toys for Tots, Dress for Success Pittsburgh, Single Steps Strategies, The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, as well as Keystone Oaks Foundation for Educational Excellence. The firm’s annual Holiday Donation Party for Toys for Tots will be Tuesday, December 10th from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM at their offices in Scott Township.
 
“Our focus has always been on our community and the individuals we serve,” said Mary Grace Musuneggi, Chairman and CEO and the firm’s founder. “We are thankful for the blessings in our lives and believe in working to bless others through our work and our service.”

Christopher Musuneggi receiving the H. Beck Outstanding Service Award from H. Beck Inc. President Michelle Barry for the firm’s work with multiple charities and civic organizations. The Honorarium presented with the award will be donated to the Salvation Army Pittsburgh Temple. 

Why We Support Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is November 30, 2019. The tenth anniversary of the day to celebrate small business created and promoted by American Express. Why does the Musuneggi Financial Group support small business Saturday? Because small business matters.

The Power of Small Business

Small businesses help drive the economy. Consider these statistics from the Small Business Administration:

  • 99% of all businesses in the U.S. are small businesses.
  • 64% of new jobs created over the past three decades were in small businesses.
  • 40% of all retail jobs are in franchise or small businesses.
     

As reported by Grasshopper.com, some additional small business stats:

  • Small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to non-profits and community causes (Source: Seattle Good Business Network).
  • If you spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays in your local economy.
  • If you spend the same are a large business, only $43 stays in the local economy (Source: Civic Economics Study in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Small Business Matters

The Musuneggi Financial Group is a small business. But we’re not promoting ourselves… we’re promoting our clients, our friends, our neighbors and our vendors. Because small businesses matter to the economy, and small businesses are one of the reasons that our business and our community thrives.

Shop on Small Business Saturday

On November 30, stop by your local hardware store, grab a treat at a local bakery or sweet shop, have lunch at a local diner and pick up some Christmas gifts at a local shop. We encourage you to talk to the shop owners about their small business adventure. And we might bump into you… because we’ll be out celebrating Small Business Saturday as well!
 

ElderCare Strategy

Long Term Care Planning

Your Extended Care Strategy

Are you prepared for the possibility – and expense – of eldercare?

Do you have an extra $33,000 to $100,000 to spare this year? How about next year, and the year after that? Your answer to these questions is probably “no.”

What could possibly cost so much? Eldercare.  

According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, a year of in-home care for a senior costs roughly $33,000. A year at an assisted living facility? About $45,000. A year in a nursing home? Approximately $100,000.1

Medicare has limitations.

Generally speaking, it will pay for no more than 35 hours per week of home health care and only up to 100 days of nursing home care, following a hospitalization. It may pay for up to six months of hospice care. If you or someone you love happens to develop Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, Medicare will not pay for any degree of room and board for them at an assisted living facility.2

Medicaid is another resource entirely.

For seniors who are eligible, Medicaid can pick up assisted living facility or nursing home expenses, and even in-home eldercare, in some instances. Qualifying for Medicaid is the hard part. Normally, you only qualify for it when you have spent down your assets to the point where you can no longer pay for eldercare out of pocket or with insurance.2

You need a strategy.

An extended care strategy may factor into a thoughtful retirement strategy. After all, your retirement may be lengthy, and you may need such care. The Social Security Administration projects that a quarter of today’s 65-year-olds will live past age 90, with a tenth making it to age 100.1

Insurance companies have modified extended care policies over the years. Some have chosen to bundle extended care features into other policies, which can make the product more accessible. An insurance professional familiar with industry trends may be able to provide you more information about policies and policy choices. 

Waiting for federal or state lawmakers to pass a new program to help with the costs of eldercare is not much of a strategy. It is up to you, the individual, to determine how to face this potential financial challenge.2

If you lead a healthy and active life, you may need such care only at the very end. Assuming you do require it at some point, you may consider living in an area where you can join a continuing-care-at-home program (there are currently more than 30 of these, essentially operating as remote care programs of assisted living communities) or a “village network” that offers you some in-home help (not skilled nursing care, however).1

Those rare and nice options aside, retirement saving also needs to be about saving for potential extended care expenses. If insurance addressing extended care is not easy to obtain, then a Health Savings Account (HSA) might be an option. These accounts have emerged as another solution to extended care needs. An HSA is not a form of insurance, but it does provide a tax-advantaged savings account to which you (and potentially, your employer) can make contributions. You can use these funds to pay for most medical expenses, including prescription drugs, dental care, and vision care. You can look into this choice right away, to take advantage of savings over time.3

Once you reach age 65, you are required to stop making contributions to an HSA. Remember, if you withdraw money from your HSA for a nonmedical reason, that money becomes taxable income, and you face an additional 20% penalty. After age 65, you can take money out without the 20% penalty, but it still becomes taxable income.3

An HSA works a bit like your workplace retirement account. Your employer can make contributions alongside you. However, the money that you contribute comes from your pretax income and can be invested for you over time, so it may grow as your contributions accumulate.3

There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,500 contribution for 2019, if you are single; $7,000, if you have a spouse or family. Those limits jump by a $1,000 “catch-up” limit for each person in the household over age 55. Your employer can contribute, but the ceiling is cumulative between your contributions and theirs. For example, say you are lucky enough to have your employer put a hypothetical $1,000 into your account in 2019; you may only contribute as much as the rest of your limit, minus that $1,000. If you go over that limit, you will incur a 6% tax penalty, so it is smart to watch how much you contribute.3

Alternately, you could do without an HSA and simply earmark a portion of your retirement savings for possible extended care costs.

The Bottomline

One thing is for certain: any retiree or retirement saver needs to keep the possibility of extended care expenses in mind. Today is not too soon to explore the financial options to try and meet this challenge.    

Presented by

Christine E. Musuneggi, CRPC®, CLTC, LACP

Contact Christine at 412-341-2888 or email Christine. You may also schedule an appointment via Christine’s online calendar here.

 

 


This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through H. Beck, Inc. Member, FINRA & SIPC 6600 Rockledge Drive, 6th Floor Bethesda, MD  20817-1806.  (301) 468-0100 H. Beck, Inc. and The Musuneggi Financial Group, LLC. are not affiliated. 09102019-MY-9647

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/long-term-care-insurance-has-a-shaky-future-here-are-new-ways-to-tackle-the-high-cost-of-aging-2019-05-22 [8/4/19]

2 – health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/dementia-care-in-assisted-living-homes [8/21/19]

3 – investors.com/etfs-and-funds/personadd paal-finance/hsa-contribution-limits-hsa-rules/ [3/13/19]

Long Term Care Quiz

The 30-second Long Term Care Quiz

How much do you really know about long term care costs?

Answer True or False

About 40% of today’s 65-year-olds will need long term care at some point in the future.
TrueFalse

On average, a one-year stay in a nursing home costs about $30,000.
TrueFalse

Nursing home expenses for Alzheimer’s patients are covered by Medicare.
TrueFalse

Not sure? Schedule a call to discuss your needs and options. 

Business Owners….You Can’t Take It with You

Succession Planning

Preparing a smoother transition. 

A successful finale. If you are an entrepreneur, what is the final act for you and your business? If you have been successful, you likely want the company you created to be able to continue once you are no longer at the helm. For that reason, many people in your position create a succession plan to implement when the time comes.

whiteboard graphic with hand writing Estate Planning Property Disposition Charity Succession Life Insurance Living Will TrustWhat do you need to think about? It may be helpful to start with the end – that is, visualize how you see things looking without you in charge. You have an opportunity to guide your company to a potentially lasting legacy, as your staff contends with the changes. If there is a sense of continuity in place, this may allow the transition to progress more efficiently.(1)

Have a question? Join us for a special event: Exit Planning & Your Business

It may also be wise to plan for succession to take place in stages, some of them unfolding while you are still at the wheel. This will allow you to determine who in your organization is ready right now, the individuals who you will want to train, and tasks you will want to undertake during later phases of the transition. Another important thing to consider: who will be your successor? Will you divide your tasks amongst multiple people? All important factors to consider.(1)

Creating a Succession Plan

Who’s on your team? Who will be helping you create your succession plan? Naturally, you will want input from trusted people within the leadership of your organization, but you may also want to consider outside perspectives.

You may want an estate planning attorney on your side. Especially in the case of a family business or a situation where your family plays a part in your intended succession. An estate planning attorney could also help you navigate any state laws that may apply to your business. Additionally, if the transition is preceded by death rather than retirement, it will be helpful to your family and your company to have someone to look out for any complex issues that may arise.(2)

Does life insurance play a part in your succession plan? If you’re the person in charge, a part of your plan might involve key person insurance, which allows your company to replace income that might be lost by your business in case you suddenly and unexpectedly die. This could be the difference between your business being able to negotiate a difficult time or fold up because there’s no contingency in place.(3)

Carefully Consider Succession Planning

Succession planning involves a careful consideration of where you are, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there. It also involves planning for positive outcomes – and less-than-desirable ones. By making these decisions now, you can create a scenario in which your company is ready for your absence, and you can rest easier knowing that your business is prepared when that time comes. 

Contact us to learn more about creating a Succession Plan.


This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
 
Citations.
(1) forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/09/27/the-importance-of-succession-planning-and-how-you-can-start/ [9/27/18]
(2) thebalance.com/do-you-need-to-hire-an-estate-planning-attorney-3505703 [4/29/18]
(3) forbes.com/sites/catherineschnaubelt/2018/11/26/4-reasons-you-should-consider-life-insurance-as-a-planning-tool// [11/26/18]

07112019-MY-9487

College Grads: Mortgage Payment and No House

Woman with Student Loan Debt WorriesIf you Have a Mortgage Payment and no House, you may Have Just Graduated from College

With students recently returning to school and college, it reminded me of the financial choices and commitments that parents and their children have had to make to get the college education they wanted. It could be a choice of private school, public college, Mom’s Alma Mater, the Ivy League College you have always hoped for, the Big 10 University that would give you a sports scholarship or the university with the department that only a few universities have. It might be the one near the beach or the one in the big city. The one near your girlfriend, or the one that has the best social life. Could be it’s the one that follows your family values, political leanings, or is it faith-based? 

Parents and their children do road trips to check out numerous colleges for numerous reasons. But in the end no matter what the criteria is for which college or university is chosen, it undoubtedly comes with a financial cost.

The Cost of Higher Education

For parents who have planned and made the commitment to the cost, this is a blessing to their children. Students who graduate with no or limited college debt, can obtain financial security much faster than those who have a huge college loan debt. These children are able to buy homes, cars, and begin to save and plan for their future. But those with excessive debt who would like to buy a home, find that the “mortgage” payment goes to their student loans. Then if they do decide to take on an actual mortgage or additional debt, they are behind for many years in trying to reach anything that looks like financial independence.

The most distressing thing seems to be those students who end up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and yet they secure a job that pays $25,000 a year.

Education Options

Ideally, it would have been good to make different choices in advance of going to college. Instead of going to Dad’s Alma Mater at $70,000 a year for a career choice of being an elementary school teacher; maybe going to a state school, with a teaching program that would erase student debt if you teach in the state after graduation would have been a better choice. Instead of going to an Ivy League college, maybe a trade school would have gotten you to the career you really wanted.

Starting Out Starting Over Take the first stepBut Now What?

But if the decision has already been made and it is behind you, then it’s time to evaluate how to get on good financial footing. Debt consolidation. Budgeting. Career Counseling.

Let us help. Check out our “Staring Out. Starting Over” program which is geared to assisting those who find that they are struggling to get on a strong financial path.

If you feel like you are paying as much as a mortgage payment each month for your debt, and you don’t own a home, this might be for you. Or if you own a home and your college debt could buy you another home, reach out to us at 412-341-2888 or online for a free consultation.

Life Insurance Awareness Month

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month… Take the time to review your coverage

Life hint You don't buy life insurance because you're going to die, but because those you love are going to live. Life HappensWhen you made the decision to purchase life insurance, the circumstances, needs, and goals that were present at the time the original policy was purchased played a significant role in the type of policy and coverage selected. Similarly, the circumstances, needs, and goals of the insurance carrier you bought your coverage from played a prominent role in the product they created for you.

Changing Situations

Due to new industry regulations and a low interest rate environment, insurance carriers have revaluated their product portfolios. These changes may have affected your current policy, making it important for you to do an appraisal of your coverage.

Life Changes

Your life’s circumstances have likely evolved over the years. Has your life insurance evolved too?
The situation, needs and goals that were present at the time the original policy was purchased played a significant role in the type of policy and coverage you selected. Over time, these same situations, needs and goals can deepen, resolve themselves or go in a completely different or unanticipated direction. Read more about re-appraising your insurance in our downloadable guide

We Can Help

If you would like an appraisal of your insurance contracts, gather your most recent insurance statements and contact us for a review.  After we have appraised your policies, we will call you to discuss them in more detail.


Please note:  This article is not intended as an invitation to replace your existing policy coverage. This approach is often not suitable due to factors such as surrender charges on your existing contract, the surrender charge period on the new contract, transaction costs associated with the exchange, the values of the new contract versus the old contract and the various fees and expenses associated with the new product.  Replacing an existing policy should only be considered after a careful evaluation and appraisal of your existing coverage.
 

 

Back to School Productivity Tips for Parents

  • Get up before your kids do.
  • Take those quiet minutes in the morning to drink your coffee, eat a healthy breakfast and mentally prepare for your day. 
  • Drink more water. When you’re dehydrated you have less energy – and just don’t feel like getting much done.
  • Prepare your kids’ lunches for the next day while you’re preparing dinner, so you aren’t rushing around later when everyone is home.
  • Create a to-do list each day and check off items as they’re completed. Try to get through your most daunting task before noon. If you wait, you’ll be less likely to tackle it. 

Source: “11 Ways to be productive while your kids are at school” WPXI News

Senior Lifestyle Planning Tips

Financial concerns are a big part of the retirement decision, but what if it weren’t?

Would you retire earlier if you could place focus on family, lifestyle, and health? Check out our featured article from Fidelity, “The Real Reasons People Retire” 

Contact us to discuss your situation and the reasons you’ll retire.