Latest News from The Musuneggi Financial Group

Be Prepared for Pandemic Tax Surprises

Information provided by Karen L. Vidt, Certified Public Accountant

Numerous new laws provide economic relief to individuals and businesses hardest hit by this year’s pandemic. This much-needed financial assistance, however, comes with a few strings attached.

Here are three potential surprises if you use the available economic relief packages:

Getting a tax bill for unemployment benefits. While the $1,200 economic impact payments most Americans received does not have to be reported as taxable income on your 2020 tax return, there is currently no such luck with unemployment benefits. In addition to paying federal taxes on your unemployment compensation, more than half of states also impose a tax on unemployment benefits.

What you need to do: See if your unemployment compensation check withholds a portion of your pay for taxes. Even if your check does have withholding for income tax purposes, the withholding amount may not be enough. If possible, talk to your state unemployment office and try to get withholding amounts revised.

Paying estimated tax payments. If you normally receive a paycheck from your employer, you may have never needed to write a check to the IRS to pay estimated future taxes. Your employer withholds your taxes from your paychecks and sends it to the IRS for you. If you’re collecting unemployment benefits, however, you may be required to pay tax on the unemployment benefits received during the first six months of 2020 by July 15, 2020.

What you need to do: Estimate the amount of tax you owe for all sources of income, then compare that number with the amount of money withheld from your income to pay these taxes. If necessary, send in quarterly estimated tax payments to the U.S. Treasury and, in some cases, state revenue departments. This must be done each quarter with the next payment due July 15. You may need to send money in on September 15, 2020 and January 15, 2021 as well.

Reporting emergency distributions from retirement accounts. You may withdraw up to $100,000 in 2020 from various retirement accounts to help cover pandemic-related emergency expenses without incurring penalties. While you will not be required to pay an early withdrawal penalty, you will still be subject to income tax when filing your 2020 tax return.

What you need to do: If you plan to withdraw funds from your retirement account, reserve enough of the money to pay the tax! The amount you reserve depends on your potential tax situation so call for a tax review before taking money out of the account.


Neither Musuneggi Financial Group nor H. Beck, Inc. offers tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor regarding your own specific tax situation.

Karen Vidt is unaffiliated with H. Beck Inc. and The Musuneggi Financial Group.

Musuneggi’s Featured in Video Interview

An interview by Elaine Shetler-Libent of Keller-Williams with The Musuneggi Financial Group’s Christopher S. Musuneggi, CFS, RFC and Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC®, CLTC, LACP. They discuss financial issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic impacts. 

Or watch the video on YouTube

If you have questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on your situation, contact us for a financial review. 

Mom and Dad, Just Say “No!”

My mother had an expression, “When God turns a Mom on, He never turns her off.” I believe sometimes she used that to explain her reason for why she thought it was appropriate for her to interfere in my life and tell me what to do, even after I was grown, married and had a child of my own.  But it was also a reminder that she would always be there to help in anyway she could, if needed.  I believe most parents have that innate desire even when their kids are adults.

Sometimes that help to the adult child comes in the form of babysitting for grandchildren, or even pets, as housework, party planning, home repairs, food shopping, cooking, or even health care.  But many times, it comes in the form of straight out cash.

The Bank of Mom and Dad

When this happens, the money is often used for home improvements, tuition, down payments on a house, car payments, vacations, financing a business venture, paying legal fees for a divorce, or even helping the child get out of debt.  In more serious situations, it is used for day to day living expenses for the adult child.

And when this occurs, I cannot imagine any child who is not appreciative and grateful.  But………

As the parents age, retire; as income sources change or aging brings on health risks or the need to change housing options, several questions need to be addressed before the parent continues to be the “bank.”

What Comes Next?

Does the child have the expectations that the parent will continue to be a source of funds?

Does the child truly understand the parents’ financial situation?  Do they have a false sense of what the parents have?  Do they understand the impact on the parents’ financial situation as they are on a “fixed” income?

Can the child be financially independent without the help of the parent?

Have the parents made financial commitments to the child that they do not really have the financial resources to fulfill? Could this cause the parent to go into debt? To reduce their standard of living? Or jeopardize the parent’s future financial independence?

Who will be responsible for the parent’s income needs if the parents run out of money, need Long Term Care, or help staying in their home?

It Starts with Communication

One of the roles of a parent is to protect the child from danger.  Giving a child unrealistic financial expectations, allows you to create a potentially serious financial situation for you and your child.  Over the years in our practice we have seen parents sacrifice their security for the security of a child.  One of our best ways of making sure parent and child are on the same page is through our Family Meeting program.  We meet with parents and children and address these issues.  After these meetings, those parents who were able to share their excess funds with their children where happy that they were able to say “yes” and still live comfortably.  For those who were thinking of sharing money they could not really afford, were then able to explain to the children why they just had to say “no”.  If the transaction is good for all involved, just say “yes”.  If not….well….just say “no”.

It is all part of the job of that parent that God turned on.  There just might be a time to turn them off.

How to Spend From a 529 College Plan

Year after year, you and your child have been saving for college through a 529 savings account. Now college is closer and it’s time to think about spending the money you’ve put aside. You’ll be in control of how much is withdrawn and how it’ll be used, but there are a few things you need to know up front to make the most of your savings.

Our friends at Fidelity Investments have created a 9-step guide to help you make your 529 savings go as far as possible. Read the full article by clicking here.

We Need to Talk About Estate Planning

IF YOU HAVE DONE YOUR ESTATE PLANNING…GREAT!  WE NEED TO TALK

IF YOU HAVE NOT-WHY NOT?  WE NEED TO TALK

If you have done your Estate Planning, we need to see that your beneficiary designations are coordinated.  If you are not yet done, we need to talk about the beneficiaries and titling of your assets.

Most of us have recognized that over the years, everything we do in the world of business and finance seems to require more and more paperwork. New consumer information laws require disclosure forms; then there are those forms to comply with the Patriot Act and those for the Privacy Act. And because we live in such a litigious society, there are forms to protect you from not getting the right information and forms to protect those who give you the information. All in all, everything requires a document or form of some sort.

If you are a client of The Musuneggi Financial Group, you have undoubtedly been reminded numerous times of the need to have an updated will, beneficiary forms, powers of attorney, living will and family letter. Although having these documents was always important, in today’s world they are critical. Over the years, our firm has too often had to be party to situations where the lack of the correct documents has cost our clients time and money; and even put strains on their businesses; or on their relationships with family members, spouses and business partners.

We, once again, want to encourage you to meet with your attorney to be sure your documents are up-to-date. If you do not have the proper documents, we want to encourage you to get these as soon as possible. If you don’t know an attorney, we will be glad to introduce you to one who is a specialist in the areas of estate and business planning. If you update your documents, be sure to contact us, so that we can help coordinate your beneficiaries with your updated wills.

The way that your assets are titled is extremely important as to how they will be handled in case of your death, divorce or any other life changing situation. Be sure all of your investments, savings and bank accounts are titled correctly.

The way that your assets are titled is extremely important as to how they will be handled in case of your death, divorce or any other life changing situation. Be sure all of your investments, savings and bank accounts are titled correctly.

A FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY IS A MUST…AND HERE IS WHY

If you have accounts that are titled in your name only, you need to have a Financial Power of Attorney who can act on these accounts, if you are unable to do so. The solution may not be to add someone else’s name to the account. This could cause a gifting issue or other serious problems. Many married couples believe that because all of their accounts are held jointly, they do not need a Power of Attorney.

But IRA’s are owned individually; and if you are disabled, your spouse cannot automatically act on your behalf for these accounts. And if you are the person who normally handles an account for another, such as a parent or even an adult child, there may be times that you need to act on their behalf when they are not here to sign or give consent. A Power of Attorney can help resolve this issue, too. And with privacy laws, our firm is not permitted to give a child, a sibling, or even a spouse, information on another individual’s account, without written permission.

We are, therefore, requiring that all of our clients provide us with a copy of their Power of Attorney or we will provide you with an “Authorization To Provide Information” Form. Please fax the form to 412-341-0725, mail it to our office, or bring it to your next appointment. If you are not prepared to do a complete Estate Plan, we do have attorneys on our team who will prepare a Financial Power of Attorney as a standalone document.

As financial consultants, we feel it is part of our responsibility to help our clients survive any unexpected life situation that may arise. When you are in need of our help we want to be in a position to help. This is one way we hope to accomplish this goal.


Financial advisors do not provide specific legal advice and this information should not be considered as such. You should always consult legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

Meet the Managers Recap

On April 7th, we had the rare opportunity to hear from money managers who make the day to day decisions on what to buy and what to sell in the funds they manage.

In January when we were originally planning the event, we were coming off a great year of market highs and the plan was to center the meeting around the topics of an election year. We had no idea that we would experience this significant market downturn, caused by a virus and not by a fundamental economic issue.

Presentation by the Money Managers

We were joined by Dunham money managers, Dave Torchia, partner and portfolio manager at Stone Harbor, a fixed income credit specialist in New York; and by Scott O’Gorman, of Bethesda, Maryland with Ithaka LCG, doing bottom pure stock picking through concentrated growth investing.

Dave addressed the International bond market which gives him a world view.  This is a great perspective during this pandemic which is affecting all corners of the globe. Dave has been implementing a global multi-sector strategy. In the current environment he has made significant changes to his portfolio.

Scott’s portfolio normally invests in just 30-35 stocks, while most competitors of his fund invest in 100-150.  This method is called concentrated, and Scott’s fund began doing concentrated investing before concentrated was cool. Scott’s goal is to find quality companies that have strong balance sheets, strong cash flow.  Scott is happy with their current holdings and has made only a few changes. 
But Scott reminds us that no one really knows what will happen.  This is after all an election year.  “Love or hate Trump, he is good for Equity markets. Looking to the future it is easy to be negative. The more difficult job is to be bullish. This country has companies that add ingenuity. Things that need considered are if we have good jobs number and how fast are people get a paycheck? When are we going to          re-open, will it be slow? Will people spend or save more knowing that they could be furloughed? Will we foresee more regulation? This could hurt companies like Facebook and Google”.

Implications of an Election

Dave reminds us that political risk in important in an International or world bond fund. An election between Biden and Trump may not matter, but it would matter who won if their policies affected interest rates.

All in all, the managers are hopeful that the world will respond positively as the current Coronavirus pandemic eventually ends; but with no crystal ball many things could happen in the interim to effect the various economic indicators.

A Man is Not a Plan Book Earns 2020 TAZ Award

Mary Grace Musuneggi’s book A Man is Not a Plan was announced as a 2020 TAZ Award winner. A Man is Not a Plan is one of two books receiving TAZ recognition in the Business category. The TAZ Book Awards celebrate accomplished authors in the genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, young readers, and drama.

“I am honored to be recognized by the TAZ Awards,” said Mary Grace Musuneggi, CLU, ChFC, CFS, RFC. “I am passionate about helping women take control of their lives and it is gratifying to have this work receive such a distinction.”

The Authors’ Zone has held the TAZ book competition since 2014. Books are awarded based 80% on content and 20% on production.

A Man is Not a Plan: Success Strategies for Independent Women helps women understand and navigate the issues that could keep them from becoming the CEO of their life. It is Mary Grace Musuneggi’s second book following Singles Steps: Strategies for Abundant Living.

Mary Grace Musuneggi helps individuals and small business owners develop comprehensive strategies for pursuing their financial goals. An award-winning entrepreneur and Chairman & CEO of The Musuneggi Financial Group, Mary Grace is also a financial educator, author and motivational speaker who frequently lectures on financial planning and lifestyle issues.

Throughout her career, Mary Grace met women who were facing challenges that dramatically influenced their lifestyles and the quality of their lives. In response to this, she founded Single Steps Strategies, a life planning resource that helps women work towards abundant, balanced and successful lives. Single Steps Strategies recently celebrated ten years of empowering women through information and education.

A Man is not a Plan book coverAbout A Man is Not A Plan

At the age of 25, as a widow with a nine-month old son, Mary Grace Musuneggi became keenly aware that Cinderella was a fairy tale and that her salary as a parochial school teacher would never be enough to realize her goal of owning a home. Mary Grace decided to take charge of her own situation and carve out the abundant life she wanted for herself and her son. The story of her journey to become the first female agent in an insurance firm, to that firm’s first female financial planner, to Chairman and CEO of her own successful firm is filled with anecdotes, humor, and practical advice. In her role as a financial planner, Mary Grace meets women of all ages who rely on a man as a financial plan with disastrous results. But you won’t find detailed instructions about how to make a budget here because this book is about more than money. It is about finding the courage to be CEO of your own life, whether a man is in your life or not. This book will inspire you to examine your own dreams and goals and to get on the path of achieving them one step at a time. Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and start reading. This book will change the way you think and the way you live.

Managing a Job Layoff

A layoff can be a nerve-wracking event.

  • How long will I be out of work?
  • Do I have a savings cushion that can last until I find a new job?
  • Will I be able to make the payments on my house?

Working with your financial advisor, you can begin to take stock of your situation, methodically address your priorities and try to weather this setback without radically restructuring your finances.

Managing a Layoff resource

To get started, download the PDF resource “Managing a Job Layout” and if you’d like to review your situation, contact us to schedule a conversation. 

Small Business Guide

To Our Clients and Friends,

We hope that our message reaches you well during these extraordinary times. We are optimistic about the information and financial programs being made available to the business community and encourage you to work alongside your CPA, Attorney, and Business Banker to make the best decisions for you and your employees. We’re providing a resource from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist to help you begin.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we may be of assistance. We wish you health, wellness, positivity and prosperity. 

With Regards,

Mary Grace, Christopher, and Christine

Click the image above to download the Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist