Category: Life

What is Metlife’s Total Control Account (TCA)?

What is Metlife’s Total Control Account (TCA)?

Metlife is an insurance company that also deals with life insurance policies. For beneficiaries, they offer a Total Control Account (TCA). This is a draft account to hold your policy pay out for you “while you go through this difficult time.”

To be clear, the Metlife TCA is not a bank account; it is not a checking account; it is not a savings account. It is not FDIC-insured; it may or may not offer a competitive savings rate; your funds are not as easily accessible as Metlife would like you to believe. Metlife is earning more on the interest of your money than you are.

Money is complicated because a lot of times it is tied to emotions. Death is also complicated and emotional. Unfortunately, the two often meet at a time in our lives when the last thing we want to think about is money. When a loved one dies, there are suddenly a lot of questions that you are expected to answer on the spot. These are things that we have done zero research on. And due to natural circumstances, there isn’t time to shop around. Also, when a loved one dies, your brain turns to mush and stops working. When it comes to these questions, you say a lot of, “I don’t care” and “What do you think?” because you can’t think about anything else other than missing this person who is now gone forever. Nothing will bring this person back so why bother thinking about it. Unfortunately, people and businesses know they can take advantage of this.

Beneficiary Claims Payouts: Lump Sum vs Metlife’s TCA

When my father died in 2014, all he left was a savings account with a small amount of money in it. Once the death certificate was processed, the bank mailed me check. Easy peasy. When my mother died in 2015, she left a life insurance policy where I was one of the beneficiaries. I didn’t realize this until I received a letter in the mail from Metlife about six months after her death. The letter included a beneficiary claims form that had to be completed. It was fairly straightforward and mainly asked identification questions. I did not need to attach a copy of the death certificate. I was not aware of this policy or that I would be a beneficiary, so all of this was a surprise. Also, receiving this six-months after the death brought up a lot of emotions again. So be prepared for that.

On the form, they ask how you would like to receive the policy benefits. Your options are: 1) Lump sum, or 2) Total Control Account (TCA).

Although a lump sum may sound overwhelming, beneficiary payouts aren’t (usually) taxed, so that is one less financial aspect to have to worry about.

The payout amount was not included on the form and I doubted they would tell me over the phone. With my two options, I decided to see what a Total Control Account is just in case it is the better option. From the get go I was planning on going with Lump Sum.

It was difficult to find any non-biased information on the Metlife Total Control Account, which is why I wanted to write about it. There are criticisms of it. In 2010, the company was taken to court because the account was then named Total Control Money Market Account. They were sued over the misleading “Money Market” name, where people were led to believe that it was a bank account when it’s not. The only positive information I could find was from Metlife itself.

I am being fairly objective here but, honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep large sums of money in a non-FDIC insured bank account.

How the Metlife Total Control Account Works

Here’s a breakdown of the account. It is a draft account. I want to make it clear that this is not a saving account and not a checking account. To withdrawal funds, you are given a draft book from Metlife. They call it a checkbook, and call the papers checks, but it is actually a draft book and you are making drafts. You cannot deposit any money into the account, only withdrawal. In order to withdrawal your money, you have to write a draft to yourself then go to a bank (or check cashing facility) and cash it. However, there is a minimum withdrawal of $250.

These are not checks. You can’t write one to the grocery store, or the funeral home. You can only withdrawal your money when you have access to a place that can cash checks. This may require some planning and should never be used as an emergency fund.

On the plus side, you can write a draft to yourself for the full amount of your account, which will automatically close the account. Or you can save yourself all this headache and just take the Lump Sum.

What about interest rates? The Metlife TCA is insured by Metlife but not by the FDIC, as is the case with most bank accounts. According to Metlife, their interest rates are “competitive”. They state that some of their Metlife TCA accounts are earning 3% interest, though it is more likely you will earn less than one percent.

Of course Metlife earns interest on your money, too. Since they are the ones holding it. Seven years ago, Metlife made $10 Million in investment earnings on these accounts.

The Metlife TCA Is Not A Bank Account

My main caveat with the Metlife TCA is it feels deceiving. Metlife’s literature claims that they are doing you a favor by offering you this account. They take the decisions off your hands during this emotional time so you have one less thing to worry about. You can keep your money in their Metlife TCA and worry about it later. Though, honestly, I’m not sure how that’s any easier than receiving the lump sum and immediately depositing it into your bank account to worry about it later.

Another issue with the account is, despite the catchy name, you really don’t have any control over your money. It is difficult to access and you aren’t choosing the best place for your money. By receiving the lump sum instead, you can choose to put it in a high interest savings account, a CD, or another type of investment. Again, you don’t have to do that right this second. This is an emotional decision. It is an emotional time. But if you have these benefits in one of your bank accounts, rather than a draft account, you have more options open to you down the road.

Remember, Metlife is an insurance company, not a bank.

If you are dealing with this currently, I am sorry you are going through this. Take your time with the decisions you can and don’t rush into anything. If you are not dealing with this right now, inevitably, you will. Learning about these issues will help you make smarter decisions in the unfortunate time that you will have to.

The Problem with Being Perfect 365

The Problem with Being Perfect 365

perfect 365 is not possible

(Another title for this post is “Everything is Terrible”) (Also, the girl above is photoshopped on both sides!)

This post will probably be a soapbox of old news. This is because I’m a little bit too old for selfies. I partook in the activity when digital cameras first came out. I was in college and it was very novel. But by the time smart phones really started to take over, I outgrew the insecurity and self-absorption needed to take selfies all the time.

I do remember, back with our digital cameras, we would always ask our friends to “touch up” the photos before posting them on Facebook. Or to not post the one where I’m making a goofy face. The touch-up, would require someone to have photoshop and know enough to clone out red marks or fix red eye. That was it though.

Now, on the rare occasions I do take a selfie, I just post the thing. Everyone knows I have some red spots. Big deal. I hadn’t even thought of a way to edit my photos like that on a smart phone. Sure, I would crop and frame. But thinking about smoothing my face or erasing “fat”, just never really occurred to me.

Well there certainly is a market for it! A few months ago, I was browsing around Instagram clicking various hashtags. I came across a person who was on a “journey” (weightloss, financial, travel, etc). This person posted a selfie stating how happy they are with themselves compared to some time in the past. The first comment was, “You are glowing!” And she was. Her face was bright, polished, smooth, red cheeks, and she had a whole “glow” about her. Like, unnaturally.

That was my first forray into Makeover Apps. Specifically, Perfect 365.

makeover with perfect 365

The tagline for Perfect 365 (and all the other makeover software out there) is “The easiest way to make you look great.”

This makes me so sad. Because no matter what I do with this software, I never look great. I only look sub-human. Pretty much like a cyborg.

Going through the app is eye opening and depressing. The first thing it does is, supposedly, cover up blemishes. Funny, this is the only thing it keeps fairly natural as you can still see mine on the right-hand side of the photo.

Now on to the bigger stuff; under eye darkness. We have to remove that completely. Because, humans get circles under their eyes, and we don’t want to look human. Nope. Get rid of those. Because, for some reason, under eye circles are not “great” and are not “attractive” and make me “less than”. Gone!

Well, if we’re going to bad-photoshop our dark circles away, we might as well bad-photoshop our entire skin. Pores are for suckers. We don’t need them. Lines? Nope, see ya. Sure, humans have pores and lines. But who wants to look like a human? Not me! I want to look “great”!

Okay, we’ve done three things and already we look like a creepy porcelain doll. Perfect. 365.

But why stop there! To keep looking “great” I need to contour. Clearly my face is too fat because I still look like a human. Silly humans with your fat faces. I can’t even stand to look at that photo. Gross. “Great” people don’t have fat faces.

So we’ll slim down the face, ah much better. Oh no! Our cheeks are droopy now. Okay, let’s lift them right up. There we go. “Great”! Perfect. 365.

You’re bad at make-up? Because you’re a human right. No worries, this app has you covered. We can just bad-photoshop all types of make-up on you.

Eye liner and shadow and fake lashes and cat eyes and lip stick and now you look “great”. (Actually, these look so bad that people don’t even try to pawn them off as real on Instagram. Surprisingly).

So, this photo is my attempt at a “still kind of human looking” makeover with the app. The smoothing alone really comes out looking creepy as fuck. Oh I mean “great”.

I have no idea what this says about our society. It’s really fucking depressing. What’s the point of posting a picture of yourself, if you need to render yourself into a completely different person? People love you because you’re human. We like looking at humans. Not creepy dolls. Not cyborgs. And not fakes.

The more rampant this is, the more impressionable people will believe this really does look “great”. And that there is something wrong with them. There is nothing wrong with spots under your eyes. There is nothing wrong with blemishes. There is nothing wrong with having pores.

Trust me. You already are perfect. 365.

What Are Your Hopes and Fears?

What Are Your Hopes and Fears?

The professor I worked for in college would often ask me, “what are your hopes and fears?” It was something one of his college professors would often ask him.

You are to answer in the form of: I hope ______ but fear _____.

The idea is to identify a goal and why you’re afraid of it. Openly stating this hurdle helps you to better address it. You become aware of your fears and can plan ahead to overcome them. Putting your fears out there give you direction so you can make a plan of how to avoid your fear from happening.

Some Examples

  • I hope to get a new job but fear that I am asking for too much money.
  • I hope to adopt a cat but fear the responsibility.
  • I hope this person feels the same way but fear I scared them off.
  • I hope this project will end on schedule but fear communication complications.
  • I hope to full-time freelance but fear I won’t make enough money.

I Hope to do well But Fear that I won’t

Tomorrow I am running the Brooklyn Half for the third time. I’m not necessarily nervous but I do have some concerns. Thinking of these off the top of my head I can list: blisters, not stretching enough, eating too much/not enough, wearing the wrong clothes, not getting enough sleep, pacing myself.

Yet, if I were to list my hopes and fears about the race, it’d be this:
I hope to run the best to my physical ability but fear not being emotionally together enough to maintain focus.

I’m not actually afraid of blisters or not stretching. I already know how to deal with them and have a plan. When I really break it down, I’m afraid of being able to mentally focus on staying positive during the run. I know from experience that thinking negatively while running kills all my momentum. I can’t process emotions while running. If I get too upset during a run, I just give up and start walking. I can only focus my energies on physical efforts or emotional ones; but not both and definitely not at the same time. Since I’ve been feeling off and on down lately, I’m worried my brain may get the better of me tomorrow.

Now that I’ve identified my goal and fear, I can come up with a plan. I don’t need to spend time laying out my clothes and going to bed early. I mean, I will do those things. But more importantly, I will focus on relaxing and clearing my thoughts. I may try some meditative exercises. Writing down things that are stressing me out then telling myself to address them after the race. Coming up with several positive mantras that I can repeat while running. I don’t want to have to come up with them on the fly. Two that I’ve used in the past are: One mile at a time and Run your own race.

Being able to identify your fears from the beginning can help you to better plan for them. If you have a plan, then you don’t need to feel discouraged.