Latest News from The Musuneggi Financial Group

Important Things to Do for the Second Half of a Very Unusual Year

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

calendar future financial situationSo far for the year 2020 we have been given so many challenges; but at the same time some opportunities.  Although many of us have been taken away from jobs, friends and family, dining out, activities, events and sports; for some we have been given the gift of time while we are under lockdown, quarantine, or what I like to call “house arrest”.

But this has allowed us to clean out closets, redecorate, read those books we never get to read, volunteer for local causes for those not as fortunate as us, and  be grateful for what we have that we often forget or take for granted, in the rush of the everyday.

It is a good time to take the time to ask yourself about your current and future financial situation:

Are you on track for your financial goals?

Are your estate planning documents up to date?

Does our firm, or any financial firm you deal with, have a copy of your Financial Power of Attorney? Do you have a separate and specific Financial Power of Attorney?

Do you have copies of your beneficiary arrangements?

Have you inadvertently taken on more risk as the markets have changed the value of your holdings?

With the changes in the economy, should your asset allocation be adjusted?

Have you had any life changes that warrant changes to your financial plans?

Will changes to your tax situation impact your income planning?

Are you prepared for changes in the economy due to Covin-19?

Do your business strategies need to refocus?

Have there been changes to your job status or benefits?

Should I halt my required minimum distribution this year, following the CARES Act RMD waiver for 2020?

If you are looking for the answers and we can help in any way, give us a call at 412-341-2888 or send us an email.

No matter what the state of the world, in our world, you are our most important priority!

A Financial Power of Attorney is a Must… And Here’s Why

financial reviewBy Mary Grace Musuneggi

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 (412-341-0725) or mail this 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 situations 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.

2020 Five Star Wealth Manager Award Recipient

Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC®, CLTC, LACP is featured in the July 2020 Pittsburgh Magazine as a Five Star Wealth Manager. ​This is Christine’s sixth straight year earning the honor!

The Five Star Wealth Manager has recognized in the pages of Pittsburgh Magazine an outstanding group of Pittsburgh-area wealth managers. Five Star Wealth Managers are named using an in-depth research methodology that includes ten objective criteria.

Congratulations to Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi in recognition of six years (and more) of excellence and commitment to clients! Read Christine’s full bio here

Click the image above for a larger view

Conversations with Christopher: Tracy Zihmer

Conversations with Christopher is a new video series where Christopher interviews resources and local business owners.

Tracy Zihmer is the founder of Zihmer Law Firm and focuses her practice areas on Estates and Trusts and Corporate/General Business law. Before founding Zihmer Law Firm, Tracy practiced at law firms in downtown Pittsburgh and the greater Pittsburgh area in their estates and trusts and corporate groups.

Or watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Tracy Zihmer and Zihmer Law Firm are unaffiliated with H. Beck Inc. and The Musuneggi Financial Group.


So What Will You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

As our country begins to open after a long, planned shutdown helping to deter the spread of the Coronavirus, I am echoing the call of my friends and business associates who cannot wait to leave their homes.  Many are heading to the hair salon and then planning a vacation.  One friend admitted that she was planning to stop to get her hair cut on her way to the airport.  When I inquired as to where she was planning on going, she replied “anywhere”.

Although the whole reason we go to work is to earn a living so that we can be happy at home, as Americans, too much home, can be quite enough.  Being out and about, traveling, adventuring is a priority for most of us.  So, as you have been “hunkering down” over the last three months, what have you dreamt about doing?  Where do you want to go?  What’s the first place you will venture out to?

Visit our Facebook page and share with us, what you will do on your Summer Vacation 2020.  Your plans may be an inspiration to others. 

Home is Where the Heart is…

Does Your Home Reflect Your Heart?

Recording of the May 28, 2020 virtual Women Who Wine event presented by Single Step Strategies and sponsored by The Musuneggi Financial Group. The event was titled “Home is Where the Heart is… Does Your Home Reflect Your Heart?”

The event featured three panelists:

  • Catherin Davin – Decorating
  • Sandy Kutchman – Organizing
  • Jackie Von Thun – Staging and Downsizing

These Ladies bring beauty and organization to the living spaces of their clients.  

Or watch the video on YouTube. Contact us to learn more. 

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.