If you participate in an employer-sponsored Flexible Spending Account (FSA), now is the time to see how much of your money you’ve spent this year. These accounts are typically “use it or lose it” plans, so if you’ve been neglecting your contributions all year, now’s the time to get spending—or risk saying goodbye to that cash come December 31.
According to Flexible Spending Accounts Online, employees, on average, lose approximately $100 annually in forfeited balances. If you find that you have funds left in your account, there are plenty of ways you can spend those dollars without losing them. With a little advance planning, you can stock up on things you’ll need in the future, all while using money from this year’s account. Here are a few suggestions of where you can use your flexible spending account.
Visit the Doctor
If you need to visit your primary care doctor or a specialist, and can get an appointment this calendar year, this is a great time to do it. Your co-pay, as well as any deductibles you still need to meet, will be covered under your flexible spending account.
Go to the Dentist
If you’ve been putting off getting dental work, you may want to do it now. Just like regular medical care, deductibles and co-pays are covered under your FSA. Keep in mind that some cosmetic dentistry, including teeth whiting, is not included.
Stock Up on Over the Counter and Prescription Medications
Since cold and flu season is here, to visit your local drugstore and stock up on seasonal must-haves. Look at the expiration dates and make sure the items you purchase will be good for at least a year. If you have prescriptions to fill, you can also get reimbursed on any required co-pays.
Purchase Glasses or Contact Lenses
Flexible Spending Account funds can be used for contact lenses, eyeglasses (including sunglasses) and eye doctor fees. What are you waiting for? Your eyes need you.
There are lots of other ways you can spend your flexible spending account money—including acupuncture, breast pumps, hearing aid batteries, capital expenses for special equipment installed in a home, and pregnancy test kits. For the full list, see the IRA Publication 502.
Once you spend the money, don’t forget to submit your receipts for reimbursement. Depending on your employer, some expenses may be submitted automatically, but others will have to be sent in by mail or fax. Check to see what the deadline is for receipt submission—some plans have a deadline of December 31, so you’ll want to send in those receipts as soon as possible.