Do you want a universal 10%-25% off coupon for things like elastic tape, band-aids, and cold packs? This post is going to be a little weird for this blog. But, it might save you money. It’s also only useful for the USA readers in the crowd.
It’s not a pyramid scheme. In fact, it’s an account that the government lets you use to pay for medical expenses. It saves you money because you use pre-tax dollars to fund it. There’s no affiliate links in this post and I don’t make any money off anything you click, unless you become suddenly inspired to buy an OK! Kimonos gi :).
Think of it like this: If you’re paid $100 and pay $10 in tax, you can only buy $90 worth of stuff. If you could use pre-tax dollars, you could buy $100 worth of stuff.
It’s like giving yourself a 10 percent raise.
What’s a Flexible Spending Account?
You might be asking yourself
“Why would I want to use a FSA? How could I use a flexible spending account for BJJ costs?”
The Flexible Spending Account (FSA) lets you use pre-tax dollars for medical expenses. Your employer has to offer the benefit to you in order to use it. During your open enrollment period, you’re allowed to pick an amount up to $2,600 to put in this account. Then, this money is paid back out from your paycheck over the course of the year.
It depends on how your job has it set up, but normally you get a debit card with the money for you to spend.
The first benefit: instant access to money
Let’s imagine that it’s January 1st and you decide to put $1000 in your FSA.
The next day, on January 2nd, the smelly-gi-guy in your gym armbars you all the way. POP! After going to several specialists, you spend $1000 between all the copayments, first aid kits, and crutches.
You can instantly use that $1000 you set aside in the FSA, even though you’ve paid nothing into it yet. The law makes you pay into it over the course of the year, but you can use the money as soon as you sign up.
This is the first awesome benefit of the FSA: the instant access to money you haven’t put in. It’s like getting insurance against having to pay your insurance deductible.
The second benefit: normal BJJ costs
Additionally, the FSA lets you get plenty of reasonable stuff! Now, you can’t just buy Ferraris with FSA money, and your provider will want an itemized receipt for most things. There’s two categories of allowed expenses: prescription required, or no prescription required.
You can find lists of FSA eligible expenses online, but here’s a list of no-prescription-required ones specific to Jiu Jitsu:
- Braces and elastics support: think kinesiology tape, knee support, ankle joint wraps, elastic tape
- Bandages: aside from normal and specialty bandages, this includes nosebleed stopping packings and liquid skin!
- First aid kits: toss a little one in your gym bag and be a hero.
- Glucosamine supplements: this one sounds weird if you haven’t heard of it, but it’s used for joint pain. Who couldn’t use help here in BJJ?
- Heating pads and wraps: what a nice way to end your training session right?
- Hot and cold packs: this ranges from the square you throw in your freezer to large shoulder-style packs
- Orthopedic support: you know, they do talk about posture a lot in class…but really, this is great to give you more support before and after training
There’s more in here, especially if you have any other conditions that impact your training. All of these are on the no-prescription-required list. You walk in, use the debit card, and walk out. I like to take a picture of the receipt with my phone. This way if I get asked for proof, I can just email the picture.
The FSA is a really great benefit and can help you get more for your money. We train and work hard to keep ourselves healthy, and the government wants to encourage it. Especially relevant, depending on your income and filing status, the FSA will save you anywhere from 10% to 25% on these things because you don’t pay tax on it. Plus, if you use a coupon or wait for a sale, you can seriously save a bunch and feel good knowing that you’re taking care of yourself.
Do any of you use a flexible spending account for BJJ costs? Do you have a favorite trick for saving in these areas?