If you’re a full-time employee with benefits, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is one of the smartest ways to take advantage of pre-tax dollars. As a quick reminder, an FSA allows employees to contribute pre-tax funds from each paycheck into an account that can be used to pay for certain medical expenses.
Despite the obvious monetary upside, it’s a bit of a slog — you have to be diligent about filing all of your receipts, and if you forget to spend your funds before the final filing date, it’s a firm “use it or lose it” policy. Plus, most of the eligible items — Band-Aids, TUMS, trips to the dentist — are less than exciting.
In years past, I’ve used my FSA on pricier out-of-network treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractor visits, and even Invisalign; things that usually aren’t covered by insurance plans but can add up quickly and make FSA contributions worth it.
I recently left my full-time job, however, and although I planned to continue my health-care coverage via COBRA, I was told on my last day that I had approximately one week until my 2021 FSA funds became inaccessible. Furthermore, I wasn’t able to use my FSA on any doctor’s appointments made after I left. In other words, I had one week to spend my FSA — over $1,000 (!) — on products alone before it was lost forever.
Thus began my frantic search on the internet for the best things that pre-tax money can buy. I figured that I’d probably just end up with a really, really big Tylenol haul, but after a bit of sleuthing, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
In the past, I’ve always used an electric heating pad to treat cramps, but I’m a sucker for convenience. I picked up a box of these for on-the-go relief.
Peace of mind
Even though COVID testing is now (thankfully) pretty accessible in NYC, I ordered a few of these to have on hand at home. This kit comes with a prepaid shipping label, plus everything you need for saliva sample collection. Just pop it in the mail for results back in a couple of days.
At-home pain relief
This acupressure mat is a great addition to my growing collection of at-home back-pain remedies. I like to lie on it while I watch TV.
In a perfect world, I would have spent my entire FSA on the Déesse Pro Light Therapy Mask (I checked, it’s not eligible). But I did find a light-therapy mask that is FSA eligible and gets great reviews.
Fun sun stuff
This smart contraception case reminds you to take your birth control pill each day. Though I didn’t buy this (I have an IUD now), I wish I’d had it when I was younger. Everyone with a longstanding “BC” phone alarm can relate.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.