Flexible spending accounts are the shit. It’s pre-tax dollars you set aside through your employee benefits to cover medical expenses, primarily. You can polish off co-pays and meet your deductibles with it, and you can pay for medications and other health-related essentials—all without denting your checking account. The only real catch is that it’s a use-it-or-lose-it benefit. You have to use up all the money you set aside before your benefit period is up because it doesn’t roll over into a new year. The good news, though, is that there are a lot of unexpected things you can buy with your FSA money. Here are a few of the most unexpected ones.
If you’re looking to have a good time—and stay safe—without maxing out your credit card on the preparations, consider whipping out your FSA card instead. Here are some things you may for a great weekend, a fun summer, or just a plain old delightful time, that you can get with your flexible spending allotment:
- Birth control
- Sunscreen (as long as it’s 15 SPF or higher, and this includes SPF moisturizer)
- Pregnancy tests (and prenatal vitamins, for what it’s worth)
- Prescription sunglasses (even from high-end brands)
- Travel pillows
- Acne treatments (including a light therapy device)
If you’re more about domestic activities and family time than wild weekend adventures, FSA money still has you covered. Look what you can get:
- Baby monitors
- Baby thermometers
- Breast pumps
- Foot massagers
- Heating pads
- Fertility treatments
- Menstruation supplies (tampons, pads, and period underwear)
Babies, especially, are pricey, so if you’re looking for ways to nourish or tend to a child but you’re really on a budget, check out these unexpected things you can get with food stamps, too.
You can also grab these items, which are suitable for a variety of uses and categories, and pay for them with your flex spending:
- Contact lens solution
- Heart-rate monitors
- Medicated hand cream
- Prescription contact lenses
- Reading glasses
Some things, like cold medicine, COVID tests, first-aid kits, or personal protective equipment (think hand sanitizer or masks) make more sense for FSA coverage than the unexpected items on these lists, but you might not even think to pull out your trusty benefits card when you’re getting them. Usually, at major pharmacies and retailers, if you can see the items being rung up on the PIN pad before you pay, you’ll notice a little “FSA” next to the things that are eligible, but even if you don’t, always ask the cashier if you can swipe your FSA card before you pay, just to see if it knocks your total price down.