Did you know that July officially starts the beginning of the scheming season?! What better way to celebrate America’s birthday than by scheming on every institution possible? As the official GodFather of Flag Day (June 14th, the pregame to America’s birthday and official end to the scheme season), I am here to make sure you maximize your schemes. This is a great time to tell you about my favorite one: Health. When I say, health is wealth, I mean, your health can save you literal cash monies.
“Darren, I try to support your shenanigans, but this one is a bit of a stretch”
Let me break it down to the microlevel, there are lots of moving parts. After Independence Day, go see your doctor. You want to ask about: Weight, Allergies/Asthma, Pain, Eyesight. Now, get all of this figured out before November. Most jobs will either have a Flex Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), which are pretax savings accounts (Generally this means a 20-30 percent savings on medical costs) so there is little reason not to max it out.
Once you know your medical status it’s time to start scheming. For example, I max out my $2,850, so the cost to me is $1,995 to spend the entire $2,850. But this also dropped me down a tax bracket, so the realized cost in take home pay was $1,000.
“But Darren, all you can buy is medicine. I’m not going to buy three thousand dollars worth of medicine, so what’s the point?”
Ohhh really, you think I’m scheming for ibuprofen? Your FSA/HSA is for doctor recommended medical care and expenses.
If you’re overweight, like me, and your doctor says you need to start a low impact exercise regimen, like, cycling, and you buy an exercise bike for your home use, why would you not buy a Peloton? Or perhaps you, like me, have allergies or asthma and your doctor recommends that you get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, why would I not buy a Roomba? If you see me with some Gucci sunglasses….just know they are prescription.
“Darren, this is all very stuntastic of you, but I don’t need all that fancy stuff, I’m just a regular person, with regular person needs, how will this help me?”
First off, don’t be regular, regular is boring, but don’t forget about all the ways you can use this for regular stuff. Regular people who are overweight can work with their doctor to find a personal trainer to work on their obesity. Regular people with mobility conditions can use these funds to purchase a new mattress. Regular people with kids can often use the Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA) to pay for childcare…this can be used for babysitting, day camp, after school programs, and basically any money spent on someone watching your child so you can go to work.
You already paying Grandma to watch Lil Man/Mama anyway? This can also be used for any adults who are dependent on you for care. If Grandpa is bedridden and your niece comes to take care of him, you can get reimbursed through DCFSA for any money you give to your niece for watching him. But you can’t then turn around and say Grandpa was also watching your kids while you were at work (like DMX said, stop being greedy). Just remember, I don’t have kids, so I don’t know all the caveats, but it seems like a good way to save money that you are already spending.
“Darren, where’s the downside?”
With literally a week of planning, there is no downside, but, yes, not all FSA/HSAs are created the same. Most require a letter from your doctor for purchases and many have a rollover limits, which is a straight use-or-lose situation. I lost $100 early in my career but I took that personally and it will never happen again. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go set up a massage appointment (that is also covered).
Note: Some of these schemes might seems so good they must be illegal, but if followed according to the steps listed, they are not. Always consult with appropriate legal council if there is any concern.
Note 2: Schemes are not scams. I am not trying to make money off you. In fact, I’m legit trying to save you money, maybe, if you ain’t scared. If you see me out in these streets, I will always accept an order of Crispy Chicken Basil from Thai Orchid.
Darren Thompson is a lifelong border hopper of Ward 7 and PG County, MD. His highest academic achievement to date is winning the Kimball Elementary School 1993 Spelling Bee and has been chasing that high ever since. You can watch his comedic pursuits with The Cookout Collective Presents: “Enigma” and Washington Improv Theater’s “Hold Up, Book Club”.