FSA Use It or Lose It: Start Planning to Avoid Losing Tax-Free Funds

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Don’t drop the ball before the ball drops for the New Year! Suggestions on spending your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds before you lose them.

Baby its cold outside, and your funds cannot stay, so check out this post to see how you can spend them.

It’s officially fall and soon to be winter, meaning it’s getting to the peak of cold and flu season, winter break, and the holidays.

While you’re beginning to plan for the season as well as make holiday purchases, don’t forget to use the money you have accumulated in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Many employers will offer their FSA participants a grace period or a rollover provision, which ensure you won’t lose funds as soon as a new plan year starts. See your employer’s benefits guide or HR representative if you’re unsure if you have one of these options.

If you don’t have a grace period or rollover and currently have unused FSA funds, you may want to keep the FSA “use it or lose it” clause in mind and make plans to strategically spend down your FSA balance. (If you have questions about how the FSA use-it-or-lose-it rule, grace period, or rollover period works, see our Flexible Spending Account FAQs.)

Here are a few ideas that can help you avoid losing out on tax-free money:

FSA-Eligible Products You May Want to Think About

So, you checked your account and you have more funds than expected? Great.

Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of the money you have left.

It is cold/flu season, and what better way to spend down the funds in your FSA account than on medicines to help you get through runny noses, fevers, and aches? Over the counter (OTC) medications such as Mucinex, Robitussin, Theraflu, etc., are all considered eligible expenses.

Allergies that last year-long? Your FSA funds have you covered and will put that coughing, itching, and sneezing to rest. Fill your cart with anti-allergy medicines galore. Even a Neti-Pot is considered an eligible expense.

Check out our handy list of FSA Eligible Expenses list for more ideas. 

There’s an Appointment for That…

Start off the new year on the healthy and right foot. Make appointments with your doctor, specialists, or dentists.

This is a wonderful way to spend down funds, especially if you have a bunch left to use. This is also a wonderful time to get new prescriptions filled or refill existing ones!

*While you can get your teeth cleaned, remember that teeth whitening and other select services aren’t eligible. See our eligible expenses list for more information, and make sure you save your Explanation of Benefits or itemized receipt.

You Can See Clearly Now… with FSA Funds

It may be time for glasses or contacts, or even just your yearly vision checkup. If you’re overdue for these items or a trip to your eye doctor, this is a clever way to use larger FSA balances.

FSA funds can also be used for contact accessories like cleaning solution and lens cases, as well as many accessories used to repair or maintain prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses.

Other eye care FSA-eligible expenses include eyeglass repair kits, lens cleaning solutions, lens cloths, eyeglass cords, microfiber cleaning cloths, eyeglass repair kits, and nose pad replacements. These can all make for nice stocking stuffers – especially to compliment eye-straining tech gifts (which, sadly, likely aren’t FSA-eligible).

The warranty on eye care products, however, cannot be paid for with your FSA funds. Pay for those items separately using other means.

To Grandmother’s House We Go, or Anywhere Else!

Winter travel is upon us and travel supplies are in need.

Whether you are venturing to the tropics or making plans for the mountains, make the most of healthy voyaging and check this list of travel essentials you may not have known were eligible FSA items.

Examples of travel items include: Sunscreen, aloe, heat/cold wraps, band aids, motion sickness medicine, saline spray, etc. Be sure to check out our summer blog post on seasonal eligible expenses to learn more.

Miscellaneous items depleted from the medicine cabinet, junk drawers, etc.? Summer take a toll on your emergency necessities? Restock on the essentials, such as complete first aid kits and all they constitute.

Don’t hibernate through this critical time to spend down the costs in your FSA account. Start planning now for how you’ll avoid losing FSA funds at the end of your plan year, allowing you to focus on enjoying everything this season has to offer.

Note: Before making any purchases, read your plan’s guidelines and check with your plan administrator for special guidance regarding your individual plan and to find out if the FSA use-it-or-lose-it rule applies.

Did we miss any of your favorite FSA-eligible expenses to pick up this time of year? Let us know on Twitter via @ConnectYourCare.