There is no question that having food allergies is expensive. The often ridiculously high cost of 'special' gluten-free foods and foods 'free of the top 8 allergens' is so much so that I pondered writing a letter to the government about it or creating a petition to create some kind of food stipulation or aid for people living with severe food allergies or celiac disease.
Well, I have some good news for you. News you might not know.
Look what I got!!!
Tax Refund For Food Allergy Expenses?
Yes, you can get a tax refund on what you spend for special foods for food allergies.For example, you can get the surplus of whatever extra cost it takes to buy soy-free and nut-free baking mixes (like Namaste or Cherrybrook Farms), soy-free Organic soups or anything made specifically for people with food allergies such as Ian's Foods or Enjoy Life products. If soup is normally .99 cents and your particular soup is $5, you can claim 4.01 extra expense. If you buy grass-fed meats because of your soy allergy, these are likely claimable as well so keep your internet receipts, too. Add these up and at the end of the year; if the total sum of these and your other medical expenses is more than 7.5% of your earnings for the year, you get it back.
I did not know this for the past 32 years, so I will now be saving every single one of my grocery receipts like a crazy 90 year old lady. Nobody can knock you for it if you are getting $1000+ at the end of the year, right?!
Here is a link to all the info. You can also claim medical expenses for trips to and from as well as lodging for food allergy conventions or seminars for you, your spouse or dependent's food allergy.
Here is the actual 502 IRS Document. No, foods are not specifically on there, but here is the definition of medical expenses defined by the IRS:
Medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness. They do not include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation.
Medical expenses include the premiums you pay for in-surance that covers the expenses of medical care, and the amounts you pay for transportation to get medical care. Medical expenses also include amounts paid for qualified long-term care services and limited amounts paid for any qualified long-term care insurance contract.
According to several gluten-free and celiac disease blogs and websites, 'special' foods are an extra expense since they are noted on average to cost over 240% more than usual grocery store foods. You will need a doctor's note stating that you need special foods for people without your stated allergens.
Also, I'm no tax guy but from my understanding, your medical expense has to exceed 7.5% of your gross annual income.
For many of us, this is a line that's usually crossed by late summer if not earlier.
Extreme Couponing For People With Food Allergies
Ok, I have a secret confession; one of my newest hobbies as of late is extreme couponing! Before you run out to grab last week's paper from the garage, remember soy ink is prevalent in newspaper. For this reason, if you are severely allergic to soy have someone else clip the coupons for you and wear a mask if you are in the same room!
I probably shouldn't be clipping coupons because of my severe soy allergy, but I take alot of necessary precautions. I look like a space alien going on a trip to the moon when I'm clipping coupons; I have my surgical mask on (so I don't breathe in soy 'dust' particles) along with non-latex nitrile gloves which I got at Costco. It is also helpful to run an air purifier nearby if you have one. Always wash your hands thoroughly after removing gloves and mask; I also wash my face and its probably a good idea to shower in case dust gets in your hair.
The only problem I've found with couponing is most of the things you get for way less are processed foods; but if you really do your research, you can get coupons for organic and soy-free products, too! (gotta avoid those soy GMOs)
Just by the exit of every store is their 'Whole Deal' paper (Don't touch it too long, I'm pretty sure its printed with soy ink since if I hold it too long my fingers get very itchy.) There are a ton of coupons, sometimes for items we can eat. You can also print the week's coupons from their website. Take advantage of their weekly deals for anything organic you can eat that is more than 30% off. Their Organic 365 Everyday Value orange juice is the best (so much better than bitter Tropicana in my opinion!)
Costco has been my main place to save money and buy alot of food. I buy my fruits, veggies and organic salad mixes there (Tip: throw in a paper towel to absorb moisture so it lasts more than a week and won't wilt).
I also get my nori (dried seaweed from there) and USDA certified organic milk (4-pack is less than $10). Their organic red onions, Calamata tomatoes and feta cheese in brine are delicious for making authentic homemade greek salads. They also sell my Genova tuna in bulk (in olive oil) which I like to eat with my jasmine rice and soy-free 'soy sauce' when I'm craving sushi (see my Pinterest board for recipe).
Join Store Loyalty Programs and Print Weekly Exclusive Coupons From Their Sites
Join store loyalty programs for nearby grocery and pharmacies such as Pathmark, Stop and Shop, Waldbaums, Rite Aid (my favorite place to get deals) and CVS. You can find the loyalty programs usually at the bottom of their respective website, along with--more coupons!.
Join Extreme Couponing Websites For Latest Deals and Freebie Alerts
My favorite extreme couponing website is The Krazy Coupon Lady because you will not only see the hottest deals, you can also click on 'Print Coupons' to search for items you already have coupons for and get more, to bring the price down even lower! Known as 'coupon stacking' only certain stores allow it, so be sure to find out your store's policy on stacking and doubling.
If you can't find your particular company's coupon on there, go to the company website for the specific brand you are looking for; most companies offer coupons either through their site or Facebook page. The only thing is, if you 'like' them on Facebook, your couponing secret likely won't be a secret anymore! But you will save some serious dough.
Also on Krazy Coupon Lady's website, you will find on the lower right-hand side of the page, 'Freebies' which is great for getting free stuff (really!) If its stuff you don't use, do what I do; bring it to your nearest food bank, homeless shelter or salvation army--they'll surely know what to do with it. Sometimes I also send free stuff to the Phillipines since many there are very poor.
I know Pathmark doubles coupons automatically up to .99 cents and King Kullen doubles coupons up to 1.00 and no loyalty card is ever needed in their store. Know your store policies so you don't look like a freak once you get to the register.
"Is she ok?" inquires the grocery clerk. "Yeah," says my patient amazing boyfriend. "She just forgot her coupon."
Join Coupon Sites
For sites like Redplum (coupon box below) or Coupons.com, you will have to download a coupon printing app, then the coupons are sent straight to your printer. These sites are very convenient for finding different manufacturers coupons to stack for the same item. Remember you can only use one of the same exact coupon per item, so check the expiration dates and amounts; if they differ, you're in business!
Zavers.com allows you to consolidate your coupons using your reward/loyalty cards from many stores. It saves you from clipping and carrying (and having to touch soy ink) coupons to the store with you, because they will already be loaded (by you) onto your loyalty cards. When you go to the store all you have to do is swipe your loyalty card and the coupon amount will come off automatically.
One particularly useful Android app is Ibotta. You 'unlock' coupons by taking ultra-mini tasks such as watching 1 minute videos about the product or 'liking' the product on their Facebook page. Then, after buying the items you have coupons for in Ibotta, you take a pic of the receipt and upload it to Ibotta. They add the total money amount and put it into your Paypal account.
Another useful app for Android is Best Coupons and Deals. You can save on department store and retailer purchases such as Macy's, Aeropostale or Victoria's Secret, as well as many others.
No Coupon? No Problem!
There is a good chance if there is no coupon for what you want, you can find it sold in bulk for cheaper than your usual store on Amazon. Simply go to the Amazon website and search for your item at the top search bar.
Keep Your Receipts--Especially At Department Stores
Some retailers (usually department stores like Macy's..) will give you a price adjustment and refund you money if you buy something and it goes on sale next week. For example, you buy something for $42.99 only to find the price dropped to $14.99 two days later; if you have your receipt, the cashier can adjust the purchase and give you back the difference that you paid.
How To Save Money On Everything Else
Join social deal sites like Groupon to Find the Best Daily Deal in Your Neighborhood, Lifebooker (for spa, cosmetic or beauty treatments), Living Social, Zulily, Yipit or up to 90% off with Yelp Deals
for big deals on everything from restaurants to concerts and clothing. If you love luxury and high-end dining or products, Gilt is the place to go.
Also buy an Entertainment Coupon Book 2013 from Costco or Barnes and Nobles; there are tons of deals in there as well and you will likely get the cost of the book back within a month or less; you can also register the included card online for more local deals.
Hopefully this information will help you save money and have some fun in the process! I realized I can't post all the deals I find on here since many of them come quickly and go (and there are just way too many!), so follow me on Twitter to get allergy news and up-to-date savings and deals !
Please note: I have been accepted into some affiliate programs and am carefully choosing and posting ones I feel are useful. I only add affiliates whom I believe in or buy from, myself. You are never obligated to buy or click on anything on my blog or webpage, I am happy just sharing my experiences so hopefully you get something out of it (even if its a hard-earned lesson on my part!) You may read my disclaimer at the bottom of my webpage.
I hope everyone has an amazing weekend and if you have any tips to share, don't hesitate to let us know in the comments!