Latest News from The Musuneggi Financial Group

Toys for Tots Donation Party 2021: Recap

All throughout November and the beginning of December, we asked you, our clients, to mail and drop off new, unwrapped toys in the Toys for Tots in our lobby — and boy, did you ever! We were blown away by your generosity during a season where so many are struggling to make ends meet.

On December 6th, The Musuneggi Financial Group hosted our annual Toys for Tots Donation Party at our office in Scott Township to celebrate your contributions and send off the donations in a spirited fashion. We had food and drink, hot chocolate and wine, and most importantly, our valued clients and community members in attendance!

Through our combined contributions with the South Fayette community, we collected 3,158 toys — an incredible success in a difficult holiday season. Thank you so much for your continued support. We hope you had a wonderful and warm holiday season. 

If you missed the party at our office, check out our image gallery below! 

Who Gets the Dog?

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

On Thanksgiving this year, our beloved dog, Watson, passed away.  We were heartbroken.

Having always owned a dog, I know, like all pet parents know, that when we adopt a pet, we understand they will more than likely pass before we do; and we will feel the loss.  But we do it anyway.  Because we love them.  And because of the unconditional love that they give us, that somehow makes us better humans.

So of course, over the weeks since Watson’s passing, the conversation has turned to should we adopt another.  Again, all pet parents understand that adopting a pet is more than just a desire to have another companion in the house.  It is a financial commitment for training, food, toys, and healthcare.  Even major health care expenses. It is a commitment of time and money.  And as may of our clients who volunteer as pet foster parents, or who spend their time at animal shelters can attest, many shelters are filled with pets whose owners found they did not have the time or financial resources to care for them.

Recently I have learned that pets are often abandoned when their elderly pet parent goes into a nursing home, long term care facility, or if the owner dies. Having recognized that there is always the possibility that as a pet owner we may be in one of these circumstances, we had made plans in our will for who would get our dog if something would happen to us.  But how many people do this?  Maybe everyone who owns a pet should make plans for “Who Gets the Dog.”

And as we age, should we consider the role of what pets play in our lives?  Some studies show that dog-owning seniors have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than their pet-less peers. Having a dog also reduces the risk of heart attack — and boosts the chances of long-term survival if you have one.  These advantages may outweigh the chances of dealing with the feeling of loss if the dog passes before the owner.  In any case, owning a pet requires planning considerations.

Planning to get a pet for the new year?  Take the time to consider the pros and cons of owning a living thing.  Both the financial and emotional commitment. Understand that you will probably outlive them and the feeling that goes with that.  Maybe a turtle would be a good pet.  They can live for 125 years.

Putting Your Mask On First

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

Mary Grace Musuneggi

Today, when the word “mask” enters a discussion, we immediately think of mandates related to COVID-19.  If that isn’t the first thing to pop into our heads, it might be the whole Halloween mask thing.  But recently while on a flight out West, the flight attendant reminded me that if the cabin loses pressure and I am with someone who needs my help, I should put my mask on first.  The best way I can help another is to be sure I am okay first.

That thought reminded me of the discussions we have with clients who are trying to take care of others, while sometimes to the detriment of taking care of themselves.

You might be that person who has worked so hard and now is retiring. You got your pension, your 401k rollover. You’ve gathered up your investments. You’re feeling wealthy. And you should.

Or a person who lost a spouse. You got the insurance money, the money from their savings plan, the lump sum from their pension.  Seems like a lot of money now, and you are hoping it will be enough.

Or you are a child whose parents have passed away.  You are surprised at how much money they left you.  It is almost overwhelming. But you are very grateful.

In our practice we see situations like these all the time.  And for those who receive the rewards of their hard work, or the rewards from someone else’s hard work and planning, our plan is to help them get the most out of the money for their retirement years or maybe for a lifetime.

But sometimes we see retirees finding themselves spending their money on dependent adult children or siblings who have lost jobs and have no savings; who are going through a divorce and are not financially secure; or who have gotten into debt for overspending or just lack of self-control.  Sometimes when a client has inherited funds, there are other relatives that feel that the heir should share.  Or there are the kids who want help with a down payment on a house that they otherwise could not afford. 

It is wonderful if sharing and helping is an option for the giver. And it is a great opportunity if you can help others not as fortunate as you.  But on many occasions, we have seen givers, give with no concern as to how their giving will impact their own life.  Too often the recipient just assumes that those who have, have a lot more than what they do.  And too often there is no discussion of what is good to give and what is good to take.

If you find yourself in a situation being asked to help another, begin with a discussion of what you have that you can actually give.  Review your budget.  Contact us so we can update your financial analysis to see if you will retain your independence.  In other words, put your mask on first.  Then if all is good, be glad that you are truly blessed to share with another. 

The best thing you can do for your family is to stay financially independent which is the best thing you can do for you. Just like the mask on the plane, the best thing you can do for another is to be sure you are okay first.

Financial Literacy: Essential at Any Age

Presented by Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi

There has been a huge push towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) oriented curriculum in public schools. But classes focusing on an important and universally applicable topic are often ignored in favor of these scientifically-focused courses: financial literacy. It is common to hear recent graduates lament the fact that they were not taught the very basics of managing finances in school. While the idea of balancing a checkbook may be falling by the wayside in the digital age, concepts such as budgeting, opening and maintaining credit accounts, filing state and federal taxes, and saving for retirement remain the biggest obstacles in the path of financial independence for young adults, and these topics are rarely covered in high school or college courses. 

To help our clients and their loved ones bridge this educational gap, we have researched and provided the below list of books that address the fundamental principles of finance. These critically reviewed books are appropriate for a variety of ages, from pre-teens to young adults, and can act as an invaluable aids in the path to learning financial independence. 

1). The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle

Age level: High schoolers or college students

“Investing is all about common sense. Owning a diversified portfolio of stocks and holding it for the long term is a winner’s game. Trying to beat the stock market is theoretically a zero-sum game (for every winner, there must be a loser), and after the substantial costs of investing are deducted, it becomes a loser’s game. Common sense tells us—and history confirms—that the simplest and most efficient investment strategy is to buy and hold all of the nation’s publicly held businesses at very low cost. The classic index fund that owns this market portfolio is the only investment that guarantees you with your fair share of stock market returns.

To learn how to make index investing work for you, there’s no better mentor than legendary mutual fund industry veteran John C. Bogle. Over the course of his long career, Bogle—founder of the Vanguard Group and creator of the world’s first index mutual fund—has relied primarily on index investing to help Vanguard’s clients build substantial wealth. Now, with The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, he wants to help you do the same.”

Buy on Amazon


2.) Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Age level: High school or college age

“Rich Dad Poor Dad is Robert’s story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad — and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.”

Buy on Amazon


3.) The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Age level: High school or college age

“Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people.

Money―investing, personal finance, and business decisions―is typically taught as a math-based field, where data and formulas tell us exactly what to do. But in the real world people don’t make financial decisions on a spreadsheet. They make them at the dinner table, or in a meeting room, where personal history, your own unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing, and odd incentives are scrambled together.

In The Psychology of Money, award-winning author Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.”

Buy on Amazon


4.) The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Age level: College age

“The success stories speak for themselves in this book from money maestro Dave Ramsey. Instead of promising the normal dose of quick fixes, Ramsey offers a bold, no-nonsense approach to money matters, providing not only the how-to but also a grounded and uplifting hope for getting out of debt and achieving total financial health.

Ramsey debunks the many myths of money (exposing the dangers of cash advance, rent-to-own, debt consolidation) and attacks the illusions and downright deceptions of the American dream, which encourages nothing but overspending and massive amounts of debt. “Don’t even consider keeping up with the Joneses,” Ramsey declares in his typically candid style. “They’re broke!”

The Total Money Makeover isn’t theory. It works every single time. It works because it is simple. It works because it gets to the heart of the money problems: you.”

Buy on Amazon


5.) Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School? by Cary Siegel

Age level: High school or college age

“Through Cary Siegel’s bestselling first book Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School? 99 personal money management principles to live by he has educated and motivated over 200,000 people on improving their financial life. Now he is doing the same in regards to life management with his second book, Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School, Too? 99 life management principles to live by.His latest book provides 8 important lessons with 99 principles of life management that are both simple and memorable. Written for his five children who are now in high school, college and the workforce, the author’s principles also apply to adults of all ages.In fact, by incorporating these easy life management principles, there is no doubt you will improve your current situation and make smarter decisions as you move forward in life. These are principles learned from real life experiences, not a textbook!”

Buy on Amazon


6.) The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

Age level: College age

“The Automatic Millionaire starts with the powerful story of an average American couple–he’s a low-level manager, she’s a beautician–whose joint income never exceeds $55,000 a year, yet who somehow manage to own two homes debt-free, put two kids through college, and retire at 55 with more than $1 million in savings. Through their story you’ll learn the surprising fact that you cannot get rich with a budget! You have to have a plan to pay yourself first that is totally automatic, a plan that will automatically secure your future and pay for your present.”

Buy on Amazon


7.) Broke Millennial by Erin Lowrey

Age level: College age

“If you’re a cash-strapped 20- or 30-something, it’s easy to get freaked out by finances. But you’re not doomed to spend your life drowning in debt or mystified by money. It’s time to stop scraping by and take control of your money and your life with this savvy and smart guide.

Broke Millennial shows step-by-step how to go from flat-broke to financial badass. Unlike most personal finance books out there, it doesn’t just cover boring stuff like credit card debt, investing, and dealing with the dreaded “B” word (budgeting). Financial expert Erin Lowry goes beyond the basics to tackle tricky money matters and situations most of us face #IRL, including:

– Understanding your relationship with moolah: do you treat it like a Tinder date or marriage material?
– Managing student loans without having a full-on panic attack
– What to do when you’re out with your crew and can’t afford to split the bill evenly
– How to get “financially naked” with your partner and find out his or her “number” (debt number, of course) . . . and much more.

Packed with refreshingly simple advice and hilarious true stories, Broke Millennial is the essential roadmap every financially clueless millennial needs to become a money master. So what are you waiting for? Let’s #GYFLT!”

Buy on Amazon


8.) How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! by James McKenna

Age level: Middle school

“Hey, kids, want to become a millionaire? Or get a business off the ground? Or save up some money to buy a new bike? All it takes is understanding and putting into practice a few simple strategies and concepts about money:

Make it: Learn the ins and outs of scoring a first job, or even better, starting a business.
Save it: That’s right, millionaires are people who have a million dollars, not people who spend a million dollars.
Grow it: Invest and use the most powerful force in the financial universe––compound interest.

Next thing you know, you’re a bona fide financial whiz on the road to your first million. Now get going!

A thorough introduction to finance from the people behind BizKid$, How to Turn $100 into $1 Million includes chapters on setting financial goals, making a budget, getting a job, starting a business, and investing smartly – and how to think like a millionaire. Plus: a one-page business plan template, a two-page plan to become a millionaire, and a personal budget tracker.”

Buy on Amazon


9.) Growing Money by Gail Karlitz

Age level: Middle school

“Never before has there been a time when the economy has been so much a part of our daily lives. Today’s young investors want to know the basics of finance, especially how to make money grow. This complete guide explains in kid-friendly terms all about savings accounts, bonds, stocks, and even mutual funds!”

Buy on Amazon


10.) I Want More Pizza by Steve Burkholder

Age level: Middle school

“I Want More Pizza finally has teenagers excited about personal finance and is giving them the confidence that they can succeed. This resource is being used in classrooms around the nation as young adults enjoy the pizza model for learning about money management. Now available for the first time for you to bring into your home, give your young adult the gift of financial literacy and they will thank you for a lifetime. Primary topics discussed include saving, spending, prioritization, goal setting, compound growth, investing, debt, credit cards, student loans, mental blocks, and taking real world action.I am sure you have heard a few of these: “I don’t need it”, “I’m too young”, “I need to spend my money on _____ “, and the list goes on. The pizza model for learning personal finance breaks down those barriers because, well, everyone loves pizza!

Just because money management is extremely important doesn’t mean that it has to be extremely complex. I Want More Pizza leaves them in complete control to find the plan that works for your young adult – it’s their choice. If they don’t enjoy math or don’t like to plan, no problem, we’ve got them covered as well. And it’s only ~100 pages, which young adults love given their busy social calendars. Money doesn’t have to be stressful. Finally reach your young adult and help them become financially literate for a lifetime. After all, there is a lot of pizza in life to enjoy!”

Buy on Amazon


Friends Helping Friends 2021: “A Little Night Magic”

Friends Helping Friends 2021

After cancelling our 2020 celebration in order to protect the health and safety of our clients, we at The Musuneggi Financial Group were overjoyed to be able to bring back our Friends Helping Friends celebration for 2021.

On October 28th, The Musuneggi Financial Group hosted our Friends Helping Friends celebration at the LeMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington, high above Downtown Pittsburgh. The theme of the evening was “A Little Night Magic” and, accordingly, our guests were treated to sleight of hand tricks and up close magic in between drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Friends Helping Friends 2021After enjoying a sit down dinner, illusionist, mentalist, and comedian Steve Haberman performed a magical show that astounded, amazed, and frankly cracked our guests up. From producing bowling balls out of thin air to guessing the names of childhood friends and pets, Steve ensured our guests left wondering: how did he do that? At the end of the evening, we bid adieu to our guests with a sweet send off: custom cookies by Natalie Miller of The Grumpy Old Lady Cake Company

We would like to take a moment to thank our guests for joining us for a truly magical evening. Your continued support and trust in our firm is the highest compliment we can receive, and it is our honor to honor those 

What is Friends Helping Friends?

At The Musuneggi Financial Group, we take great pride in being a family-owned firm, but we value our friends just as much! Nothing is as meaningful as having clients tell their family and friends to give us a call when they have financial questions or concerns. It is an honor to have the people we care about entrust us with the people they care about. This is why we started Friends Helping Friends more than a decade ago.

The Friends Helping Friends program is one way we say “thank you!” for introducing us to your family, friends, colleagues and associates. And every year, we gather all of the Friends Helping Friends members together to celebrate at the much-anticipated Friends Helping Friends Gala. The themes of our annual gala have taken us from the red carpet to Miss Kitty’s Saloon and from PNC Park to the LeMont. We’ve worn fancy hats for our own Kentucky Derby and poodle skirts to our Sock Hop. What remains the same across the years is our desire to show our clients and their referrals just how much we appreciate their continued business. 

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how you can participate in our 2022 Friends Helping Friends program.

A Few Quick, but Important Questions

Written by Mary Grace Musuneggi, CLU, ChFC, CFS, RFC

Who is the primary beneficiary on your life insurance, group benefits, 401k & IRA?

Now that may be real easy. Spouse, partner, child? But are you sure?

Next question. Can you name the contingent beneficiary on all of the above? Do you even have one? Do you have written copies of the beneficiary forms? If you have two contingent beneficiaries, like two children, what happens if you and one of them die? Are you sure?

A short story: Joe had life insurance. When he was married to his wife, Karen, he designated her as his beneficiary. Joe and Karen got divorced. Joe married Jennifer. Joe died while Karen was still his beneficiary. His life insurance went to Karen. Jennifer was not happy. So sad. Karen was very happy. Probably not Joe’s plan.

For reasons unknown, some people believe that your current spouse is your default on any insurances. Not so. So, I ask again. Who is your primary beneficiary? Who is the contingent? Do you have these in writing?

If not, why not?

Reach out to us if we can help you get the answers.

If I Told You Once, I Told You A Thousand Times

Written by Mary Grace Musuneggi, CLU, ChFC, CFS, RFC

When I was a little girl and I didn’t do what I was told, prior to some certain grounding or other punishment, my mother would remind me of my error and emphasize the importance of it by saying, “So, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times”.

Clearly this was to plant in my mind that not only was she serious, but the situation was serious. Over the years, at The Musuneggi Financial Group, we have stressed the importance of Estate Planning. And when it really comes home to roost is when we see clients and families suffer from the effects of not doing it.

I am pretty sure I have never said, “So, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times”, but I am sure I have given you my “will” lecture, my “we must have a Financial Power of Attorney for you” spiel, or my “let’s talk about Long Term Care and final expenses” presentation.

Our job is to be sure that when situations arise, we can be there to help. Without the right documents we cannot do that. Still today, married couples, parents, business owners somehow believe that they can handle affairs for their partners, spouses, or children without any special documents, just because they are their partners, spouses, or children. NOT! And certainly not in Pennsylvania.

And when client stress over the cost of doing a will or other documents, we remind them of the thousands and thousands of dollars we see families and small business owners spend when someone dies with nothing in place. When someone becomes disabled without a Power of Attorney in place. We see serious mistakes that are made that cost time and money far beyond the cost of planning:

  • Minors as beneficiaries
  • Joint accounts that were supposed to go into the estate to pay bills
  • Accounts that go into an estate that could have passed easily to children
  • Excessive/unnecessary taxes that were paid because of wrong titling of assets
  • Multiple Executors where one would have been fine
  • One Executor where more than one should have been in place
  • One child receiving all assets with the instructions to share with other children incurring numerous expenses
  • Beneficiaries that are outdated with ex-spouses or not mentioning new children and grandchildren
  • Businesses without a succession plan

Let us help! Let’s review your Estate Planning, your beneficiaries and your plans for Elder Care. Reach out to Danielle or use our Calendly to set a time for us to review your planning. Be sure to send us your most recent Financial Power of Attorney to keep on file. Contact your attorney to be sure your documents are up to date or contact us so we can refer you to someone that can put these in place.

The most important thing we need to do for you is to be there when you have an emergency and need help. Be sure we can do that by having the right documents in place.

Because, If I told you once, I told you a thousand times.

Musuneggis Achieve Membership in MDRT

Prestigious Membership is Exclusive to World’s Leading Financial Professionals 

PITTSBURGH, PA(Aug. 24th, 2021) — Christopher Musuneggi and Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi of Canonsburg, PA have achieved membership in the prestigious MDRT organization, a coveted career milestone that offers the opportunity to share innovative ideas and best practices with other leading financial professional members. 

Membership in MDRT is a highly recognized mark of excellence and limited to only the most successful in the financial services profession. Christopher achieved the Top of the Table Qualification, the highest honor granted by MDRT, and Christine received the Court of the Table honor. This places both Christopher and Christine among the top professionals in the global life insurance and financial services industry. 

Members are provided career-shaping resources to better communicate and serve clients, as well as opportunities to broaden professional development. The exchange of ideas at MDRT meetings helps members gain new and unique insights to better serve clients’ individual needs. Working with an MDRT member connects clients not only to a highly credible and leading financial advisor but also to cutting-edge strategies. 

“For more than nine decades MDRT has delivered access to innovative ideas to motivate members and help them refine their skills,” said MDRT President Ross Vanderwolf, CFP. “MDRT is committed to helping our members achieve inspired growth and personal success.”   

MDRT’s culture motivates the best in the business to share innovative ideas, concepts and techniques with each other. The exclusive tools and resources members obtain through membership help them to better guide their clients to beneficial solutions and provide their clients’ the greatest service.  

For more information contact The Musuneggi Financial Group at (412) 341-2888. 
About MDRT 
Founded in 1927, Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®, is a global, independent association of more than 66,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 500 companies in 72 nations and territories. MDRT members demonstrate exceptional professional knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services business. For more information, please visit and follow them on Twitter @MDRtweet. 

FAFSA Simplification Act

Learn about how legislative changes can help you finance your loved one’s education.

Provided by Christopher Musuneggi

As a parent or grandparent, you know firsthand the challenges of funding a child’s education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act was passed at the end of 2020 and has changed some of the qualifications for students to receive financial aid.

These changes will affect those applying for financial aid for the 2023-2024 school year. You’ll notice these changes on October 1, 2022, which is when the FAFSA opens for the 2023-2024 school year.

529 plans from grandparents are no longer counted as cash against financial aid. One of the most confusing parts of the FAFSA process was how to account for cash funding. While the FAFSA doesn’t require 529 accounts owned by grandparents to be disclosed, families are required to disclose cash support that the student receives. This cash support may then include money from a 529 account. If students received money from these accounts, the student was still expected to disclose these disbursements as cash, and very often, financial aid needs and options were reduced.1

Parent-owned 529 plans are automatically factored into the FAFSA when a dependent files, and are only evaluated for up to 5.64% available for college use (no more than any other non-qualified asset).

A 529 plan is a college savings plan that allows individuals to save for college on a tax-advantaged basis. State tax treatment of 529 plans is only one factor to consider prior to committing to a savings plan. Also, consider the fees and expenses associated with the particular plan. Whether a state tax deduction is available will depend on your state of residence. State tax laws and treatment may vary. State tax laws may be different from federal tax laws. Earnings on non-qualified distributions will be subject to income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax.

A simplified questionnaire. The FAFSA has been greatly reduced in size, from 108 demographic, educational, and identification questions to a maximum of 36 questions. Part of the restructuring was aimed at clearing up confusion as to who is and is not a dependent student, and what type of assets need to be included.2,3

Student Aid Indicator (SAI) calculation changes. Part of the questionnaire changes were due to changes made to the calculations for financial aid. The Student Aid Indicator (SAI) is the math behind the scenes that determines what types of funding and how much a student is eligible for. Keep in mind that these calculations are still complicated, but that overall, eligibility for financial aid has been broadened.

Christopher Musuneggi may be reached at (412) 341-2888.

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 offered through Grove Point Investments, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Grove Point Advisors, LLC. Grove Point Investments, LLC & Grove Point Advisors LLC are subsidiaries of Grove Point Financial, LLC. The Musuneggi Financial Group is not affiliated with Grove Point Financial, LLC or its subsidiaries. Click here to view Form CRS.

1., May 7, 2021
2., 2021
3., January 25, 2021
4., April 16, 2021