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COMMENTARY

Discount Diva: My FSA dollars will cover WHAT?

Samantha Christmann

If you’ve got a flexible spending account, you’ve probably got until Monday to use up any leftover money, or else you’re going to lose it. Depending on your employer, you may be able to incur expenses until March 15 (hurry up and check with them!), but it’s likely your funds have to be spent by Dec. 31 and that March 15 reprieve will only give you more time to file for reimbursement.

If you’re in the use-it-or-lose-it boat, it’s time to do a last-minute shopping spree.

At this point in the game, your best bet is to use FSAstore.com. You can browse the website by categories such as sale items, bundles and “goodies,” and filter the results by price. Orders over $50 ship free (and fast, I can attest).

One order, one receipt, one crisis averted.

As much as I would love to gather the items I buy and drop them off as a donation someplace like St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, or save them for baby shower gifts, the Internal Revenue Service says the purchases must be for your own use. The law is mostly enforced using the honor system.

You can filter your search for items that are eligible without a doctor’s prescription and, let’s face it, that’s all you’ve got time for. Even so, you wouldn’t believe all the cool stuff that qualifies.

Spa spree. A ton of fun massaging devices are covered, including “foot circulation promoters,” vibrating masks, gloves and knee wraps, as well as electromagnetic and light therapy massage units.

There are neck pillows, acupressure mats and microwaveable neck wraps scented with essential oils. You can also find soothing “relaxation masks” with a choice of lavender, rose and mint fragrances.

For babies and moms. There are deluxe breast pumps and nursing accessories, belly bands, prenatal vitamins, fancy digital thermometers. Diapers aren’t eligible, but you can buy pullup type GoodNites for older kids.

There are special baby monitors that work with your smartphone to let nervous moms check that their newborn babies are still breathing in the next room ($149 to $399). You can buy a handheld fetal doppler ($89.99) that allows you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat in the womb anytime you’d like.

And get this: there’s something called UpSpring MilkScreen that lets nursing moms test for alcohol in their breast milk after a night out ($24.99).

Lip balms. I’m a freak for lip balms, so I love that they’re covered (as long as they have an SPF of 15 or greater). FSAstore.com has about 35 of them to choose from.

Among the priciest lip balms are the Coola brand organic mineral Liplux, which run about $18 apiece (there’s a three-pack for $39.99). It’s tinted, so it feels like you’re using your FSA account to buy lipstick. There’s Supergoop Lip & Cheek Treat ($22) which doubles as tinted lip balm and blush. And, of course, there are less expensive options such as Hawaiian Tropic, Bullfrog and Sun Bum (starting at $1.99).

Sunscreen. Stock up for summer or get ready for vacation with luxury sunblocks and zincs in sport sticks, sprays, tins and lotions for babies, kids and adults.

NoseFrida the SnotSucker Nasal Aspirator. Everybody needs one of these magical European contraptions for stuffy babies ($16.49). They work like a dream.

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