25 genius ways to spend your FSA dollars before they expire

Lesley Kennedy and Noelle Ike, CNN Underscored
Updated Mon February 11, 2019

You bought new eyeglasses, squeaked in a dental appointment and stocked up on over-the-counter drugs. But if there's still money in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you better spend those pretax dollars quickly before they disappear. That's why we've rounded up a quick and easy list of products available in the FSA Store, which offers a large selection of guaranteed eligible products.

If you're not sure exactly what an FSA is and why it's important that you spend your pretax dollars, we've got you covered with a quick guide.

What is an FSA?

A flexible spending account (FSA) is offered through many employer benefit plans, and allows you to set aside pretax money for eligible health care-related, out-of-pocket expenses for you, your spouse and dependents.

How does it work?

With each paycheck you receive, a certain amount of money is put aside before taxes. This pretax money is for FSA spending, and is meant to be used on eligible health care expenses throughout the year. While the specific amount differs depending on your tax bracket, there are calculators available to help you estimate your savings amount.

Why do I have to spend my FSA dollars before a certain date?

Most FSA participants are part of a "use it or lose it" plan, which states that all the money left in your account by the end of the year must be forfeited. The unused amount left in your account can't be paid out to you in any other way, and you can't transfer money to any other FSA. So it's important to keep in mind the annual Dec. 31 date.

The good news is that many employers provide a grace period of up to 2 1/2 months into the new year for you to use the money, giving you until March 15 to spend it all. But you'll want to check with your employer, because grace periods can be shorter.

What can I purchase with my FSA dollars?

Common purchases include everyday health care products like bandages, thermometers and glasses. Everything from medical expenses that aren't covered by a health plan (like deductibles and co-pays to dependent day care) and over-the-counter medication can also be eligible.

The downside is that the specifics of what you can spend your FSA dollars on depend on the plan your employer has in place. The upside? You can skip the extensive research by shopping at the FSA Store. So rather than watch that hard-earned money simply go kaput, we've rounded up 25 ways to spend it at the FSA Store, a site offering more than 4,000 items that are guaranteed FSA eligible or your money back. (A tip: Sign up for the site's mailing list for $20 off your first purchase.) From sunscreen to massage tools to a treatment for acne, here's how to end the year on a high — and healthy — note.

Adventure Medical First Aid Canteen ($16.99; fsastore.com)

Keep this handy kit in your car or hiking/camping pack to treat everything from cuts and blisters to insect bites and headaches. Packed in a BPA-free water bottle, it comes with a whistle, wipes, bandages, gauze, moleskin, pain medication and more.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Coola Mineral Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50 ($26; fsastore.com)

Protect your wee one's skin with this non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen that comes in an easy-to-apply stick form and is made with more than 70% organic ingredients.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Recoup Cryosphere Therapy Ball ($39.99; fsastore.com)

Freeze this go-to gadget for two hours for an icy roller massage of any sore muscle group.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Sun Bum Tinted Lip Balm, SPF 15 ($5.99; fsastore.com)

Get subtle color with sun protection when you swipe on this moisturizing, water-resistant, paraben-free tinted lip balm.

_______________________________________________________________________________

IMAK Compression Cold Therapy Eye Mask ($13.99; fsastore.com)

Soothe tired eyes with this mint-green pillowy mask that's filled with ErgoBeads to give your eye area a calming massage. Pop it in the freezer for a cooling treatment when you're feeling stressed.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler ($52.99; fsastore.com)

When cold and flu season hits, it hits hard. So be prepared with this handy nasal inhaler to help alleviate congestion, dryness and other symptoms.

_______________________________________________________________________________

MedAngel One Wireless Thermometer ($49.99; fsastore.com)

Kick your medication storage into high tech gear with this Bluetooth number that connects to your smartphone and alerts you if your medications (insulin, pen injectors, hormones, etc.) exceed safe levels.

_______________________________________________________________________________

reVive Light Therapy Spot Portable Acne Treatment ($29; fsastore.com)

Treat any acne flare-ups with this noninvasive battery and USB-powered device. Choose from six medical-grade LED lights to help prevent or calm acne. Bonus: It's portable, so add it to your suitcase for treatment on the go.

_______________________________________________________________________________

MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme, SPF 30 ($32; fsastore.com)

Who doesn't love an all-in-one beauty product? This one provides not only sunscreen, but a light matte tint and ProVention-R antioxidants (think green tea, cranberry and pomegranate extracts, plus vitamin C).

_______________________________________________________________________________

KT Tape Performance+ Blister Prevention Patch ($9.99; fsastore.com)

New shoes? No problem! Whether you're breaking in a new pair of cross-trainers or stilettos, these synthetic strips help keep blisters and chafing at bay.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream, SPF 40 ($38; fsastore.com)

Hydrate dry, aging hands with this ultra-moisturizing cream that's made with sea buckthorn fruit that reduces dark spots, produces collagen and improves smoothness.

_______________________________________________________________________________

eyeOS Phoebe Reading Glasses ($44.99; fsastore.com)

When you need help reading the fine print, reach for these small, but stylish, readers in red burlwood that provide +1.25 magnification.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Brush On Block Facial Mineral Sunscreen Powder, SPF 30 ($32; fsastore.com)

Translucent powder makeup that also serves as sunscreen and is paraben, PABA and phthalate free? That's what we call beautiful.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Thera-Band Pain Relief Foot Roller ($9.99; fsastore.com)

Treat yourself to a nightly foot massage with this small roller designed to stretch the plantar fascia and soothe tired, achy feet. Want extra relief? Pop it in the freezer for cooling pain relief.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Thermal-Aid Zoo Blue Bear ($19.99; fsastore.com)

This adorable, plush teddy bear can be microwaved to create a warm compress or put in the freezer to help soothe your child's latest bump or scratch.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Avène Mineral High Protection Tinted Compact, SPF 50 ($36; fsastore.com)

This non-greasy, matte cream-to-powder product offers a 100% mineral sunscreen formula that's also hypoallergenic and water resistant.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Bausch And Lomb Biotrue Multi-Purpose Solution ($21.99; fsastore.com)

Contact lens wearers: Stock up on this lubricating solution that will keep your eyes moist and healthy.

_______________________________________________________________________________

ClearEar OTO-Tip Soft Spiral Earwax Cleaner ($49.99; fsastore.com)

Developed by the Stanford BioDesign program, this hand-held device is safe for ages 3 and up and gently cleans ears, eliminating the need for cotton swabs.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Sunglass Reader With Smoke Tint ($14.99; fsastore.com)

Get +1.25 magnification with these sleek shades that use new lens technology to hide the telltale bifocal line.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Scholl's Pain Relief Orthotics for Sore Soles ($17.99; fsastore.com)

When you're on your feet all day, prevent soreness and pain by using these inserts that use shock guard technology with nodules to add relief to each step you take.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Kanjo Memory Foam Accupressure Neck Pillow ($39.99; fsastore.com)

Shoulder pain? Neck pain? Headaches? Target them all with this high-density foam core neck pillow designed to mold to the area where you need relief.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Band-Aid Variety Pack, 120 Count ($12.99; fsastore.com)

A household staple, this pack contains clear bandages, fabric bandages and even Disney-printed ones.

_______________________________________________________________________________

GrindReliefN Oral Anti-Clenching Device ($39.99; fsastore.com)

There are many people who grind their teeth at night. But with many mouthguards so expensive, this one allows you to help protect your teeth for less than $40.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Caring Mill Travel First Aid Kit ($9.99; fsastore.com)

This kit holds a whopping 35 items, including bandages, an ice pack, safety pins, small scissors and more.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Unisex Knee-High Compression Stockings ($42.95; fsastore.com)

Whether you're frequently on long flights or spend hours on your feet, these top-rated socks ensure healthy blood flow and less swelling.

Note: The prices above reflect the listed retailer's prices at the time of publication.