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Living Well

Real Money: New year, no gym membership

It's no surprise that in the first few weeks of January, the gym's packed and there's no lettuce left at the supermarket. While having a "get healthy" new year's resolution is great, a $50-per-month, 5-day-a-week gym membership doesn't always fit nicely into a busy life schedule. That's why I came up with an alternative.

Welcome to my "I don't need a gym to work out" workout.

(Please Note: I don't have a Ph.D. or an M.D., and can't tell you how to work out. But I also don't have a gym membership card -- this is just what works for me. Maybe it can help you, too!)

Find your own "I workout and don't go to a gym" lifestyle

If you're a busy mom of three, a full-time student, or crunching the numbers at your 9-5 (actually, 9-9), finding time to go to the gym can be tough. That's why I have what I call, "The Apartment Hustle."

I live in a small city apartment (and work in Manhattan) so there's never time to do much because of long commutes. So, I started doing lunges on my way down the hall, sneaking in a few sit-ups while my next Netflix episode loads and even running (yes running) up the stairs to the apartment. It's everything you could want in a workout without having to go to the gym and work out.

However, once I'm done with the Apartment Hustle, I need a bit of recovery (because I'm actually a retired and very injured athlete at 21-years old). So, when it comes time to make sure I'm feeling A-OK, Paincakes are pretty great. These little ice packs stick to you for optimal recovery and you can just pop them back in the freezer for the next time you run up the stairs a little too hard and sprain your ankle.

(Not like I've ever done that.)

Healthy doesn't always mean gym membership

An intense, sweat-inducing workout can feel good, but it's not always about the physical. You may look good but it's about the mental part, too. Whenever I'm not feeling up to a 10-minute sit-up routine, I'll go for a long walk, break out the skateboard, or even play soccer (hence the retired athlete).

Finding a hobby to do can help make the "getting healthy" lifestyle a bit easier. You can get the exercise you want while still doing something other than lunging your way to the bathroom just to get toned legs.

(Shameless plug: We know just the place to get some pain relief if your activity gets a little intense.)

Check out these gadgets

With technology today, there are so many apps to use when you're working out (or to remind you when you're not). It really pushes me to stay on top of my workout (only because the notification won't go away). There are apps you can set up to remind you, apps that keep track of your heart rate, and even apps that track your workout if you run or take a certain number of steps per day.

If the hi-tech apps aren't up your alley, we have other products to keep you in the hi-tech-healthy circle. We have smart blood pressure monitors, TENS units, and a bunch of other connected pain-relief products, so getting healthy can be a tech lovers paradise, too!

Here's to a great year

Maybe it's a little late in January to still be saying, "happy new year," but I'm going to do it anyway. Even though some of those resolutions might be on the back burner already, it's not too late to set new ones.

If you're sold on my Apartment Hustle workout, it's available for the low price of $50 a month (just kidding). But, you can get the best workout and healthy lifestyle no matter what gym you go to, or what at-home substitutes you decide to take on.

It's all about doing what makes your body feel good and if the pain or injuries you thought were gone three years ago (oops, that's me too) we're here for the pain relief you need.

Athlete essentials

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Are Fitbit and Apple Watch FSA-eligible?

Admit it, you've looked at wearable devices and thought, "THIS is just what I need to get healthy and stay on track this coming year!" No judgment - we're guilty of the same thing. And we're just as guilty of wondering if we could find one of these fun toys in our stockings tax-free.

Wearable devices are getting more popular by the day - not only for those looking to get healthy, but also for employers looking to motivate workers into staying that way. (Because healthy employees mean fewer sick days and lower costs.)

Well, even though there have been some rumblings about changes, wearable fitness devices are still not considered FSA-eligible. If devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit were specifically designed for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of a disease, this might be a different response. But general health and overall well-being aren't quite enough to make them qualify.

So, are there any alternatives?

The good news is that there are plenty of other hi-tech, FSA-eligible products that can help you stay on top of your health, using the latest technologies, including smartphone compatibility.

For example, the Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor makes keeping track of your vitals easy. Qardio measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. The Qardio is compatible with iPhone and Android, and it's light and compact, so you can easily carry it with you!

If tech-focused pain relief is your goal, then the Omron ElectroTherapy Pain Relief TENS Unit provides relief for multiple types of pain, whether you're at home, in the office or traveling. The unit relies on electrical nerve stimulation to offer relief and the small size of the unit makes it extremely portable.

And for deeper pains, maybe deep tissue light treatment is the answer. The Nuve N72 goes beyond the surface to improve blood circulation, alleviate swelling, and relax muscles. Users will enjoy near-immediate relief from pain, right at the source, within seconds of using the device.

But this is no portable heating lamp. Deep penetrating light (DPL) treatment uses an advanced form of energy to reach deep into your body, helping to heal while helping you eliminate nagging pains. The Nuve N72 has a wide range of uses, for most external parts of the body.

Of course, there are a lot of connected health products that are fully FSA-eligible. We've compiled our best, most-popular selections right here, in our Top 10 FSA-eligible products for the hi-tech health fan. And if you're looking for inspiration across the entire FSA-eligible spectrum, we encourage you to check out our comprehensive FSA Buying Guide.

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Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Living Well

Real Money: Preparing to travel without your baby (for the first time)

Leaving your baby behind for a much-needed weekend away can be nerve-wracking. Calm your senses a bit by making sure your caretakers are prepared.

Educating them on your child's schedule, dietary needs, and likes and dislikes is all well and good, but don't forget about their medical needs. We go over what to leave behind for your child's caretakers, from basic first aid supplies to feeding gear, even some useful items in the off-chance your little one comes down with a cold.

And don't forget to have a few extras of everything on hand. Trust us, something will inevitably get misplaced.

The basics

Take our advice: Stock up on more diapering must-haves than you think you'll need. That includes diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream. Amateur diaper changers always go a little too heavy on the wipes, am I right?

With FSA-eligible items like ointment, gas drops, and a hi-tech baby monitor to your arsenal, and you'll be more than ready to leave your little one. And if you're not ready, go anyway. Having a little time apart is good for both you—and the baby.

Outdoor must-haves

If your caretakers plan to take your little one on an excursion of two (don't panic—even the most novice babysitters can handle a walk around the neighborhood in a stroller), be sure they have all the goods to keep baby protected.

Be sure you have some infant sunscreen (keeping in mind sunscreen recommendations by age), a good water bottle and a sunhat. You may even want to spring for some sunscreen with bug repellent.

Feeding supplies

If you're little one is still breastfeeding, be sure to leave behind enough pumped milk or formula for the entirety of your time away, plus some extra. An FSA-eligible breast pump can help you save up some liquid gold for your little one. And don't forget to take your pump—along with some nursing pads, trust us on this one—on your weekend away. If your baby is formula-fed, be sure to have a few canisters on hand, as well.

Don't forget to leave specific feeding instructions on ounces, frequency, even which bottle your baby prefers (yes, this is very much a thing). While feeding your baby is like second nature to you, it's a whole new ballgame for anyone else.

Sickness remedies

Kids get sick at the most inopportune times. Let's face it, it's usually when you and your spouse finally have a trip planned for some much-needed R&R. But don't cancel your trip on account of a few sniffles. Instead, stock up on some must-haves like Boogie Wipes, a nasal aspirator, and a humidifier.

Once you have the supplies to ensure both baby and babysitter will be well-taken care of, it's time to take care of you. And that means getting away, sleeping in, and maybe even having an adult beverage or two. After all, you won't have your tiny alarm clock rousing you at 6:00 the next morning.

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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.