It’s hard to believe that we’re closing in on a new year. But before you start making your New Year’s Eve plans, you might want to do something about the balance in your flexible spending account (FSA). Because for most account holders, if you don’t put that cash to use by the new year, you could lose it — and money lost is nothing to celebrate.
It’s important to note while most FSAs follow the typical calendar year, you should check with your employer to confirm your expiration deadline. If it turns out that you don’t have to spend your money by the end of the year, make it a New Year’s resolution to spend it by your deadline!
What is an FSA?
For those unfamiliar, an FSA is an employer-sponsored spending account. You deposit pre-tax dollars into the account and have it to spend on out-of-pocket healthcare costs like prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and skincare products. It’s similar to a Health Savings Account (HSA), but with a few big differences — primarily, your HSA funds roll over from year to year, so there’s no deadline to spend it all. With an FSA, however, most or all of your funds expire when the deadline hits.
What to Know Before You Spend…
If you have unused cash in your FSA, but you’re not sure if you’ve already missed out on the deadline, make sure to ask your employer about these grace periods:
- There is an FSA grace period at the end of the year when you can use the unspent money in your flexible spending account. The grace period can be a maximum of two and a half months but might be shorter depending on your plan, and any unused FSA balance is lost after the grace period ends.
- Run-out is a predetermined period during which you can file claims for the previous year. For instance, if your run-out period lasts until March 31, you have until that time to file claims for expenses you incurred before Dec. 31.
- The IRS has established new guidance that allows employers more flexibility for benefit plans for 2020 and 2021 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Employers can either allow employees to carry over all unused funds from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022 — or they can extend the grace period from 2.5 to 12 months.
According to WageWorks, a leading administrator of FSA accounts, roughly 8% of FSA owners leave an average of $172 in their accounts at the end of a year. Don’t be a part of the 8%. Take a look at these creative ways you can spend all of your FSA money before the deadline.1. Prepare For Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season is rearing its ugly head, so it might be in your best interest to spend your remaining FSA dollars on preventative measures like a flu shot. Or — if you already caught a bug — you can cover co-pays for doctor visits, prescription medications, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that relieve cold and flu symptoms. You could also stock up on items to keep in your bag like tissues, cough drops, and hand sanitizer.
The FSA store has various medicine and cold treatments that make it easy to purchase using your funds.
2. Prepare For the Future
Thinking about starting a family? Family planning products like pregnancy tests, ovulation monitors, prenatal vitamins, fertility treatments, breastfeeding products, birthing classes, and even certified doulas can all qualify for FSA savings.
Or if you’re more interested in prevention, condoms and birth control are also FSA-eligible.
Check out the Baby & Mom section of the FSA store to purchase what you need.
3. Upgrade Your Skincare Routine
A rigorous skincare routine is crucial for battling blemishes and signs of aging. Luckily, skin care products like acne treatment and sunscreen can qualify for FSA spending! Products that include active ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide typically qualify and are found in plenty of over-the-counter creams, cleansers, serums, and more. The FSA store also has a section dedicated to acne and skin care products.
4. Browse Amazon
If you’re having trouble spending your flexible spending account, just open your Amazon shopping app! Amazon has an FSA store where you can browse products that are FSA-eligible. Other sites like FSA Store (mentioned above) and HealthProductsForYou are also worth checking out. These sites even provide helpful filters so you can shop by health condition, brand, price, and more!5. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It’s recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to have lasting positive impacts on physical and mental health. Get a better night’s sleep by spending your FSA dollars on sleep aids, melatonin gummies, sleep masks, and even heated blankets! Room vaporizers and humidifiers are also FSA-eligible.
6. Get Reimbursed for Travel to Doctor’s Appointments
When traveling for medical care to a hospital or doctor's office, travel costs like ride-shares, parking fees, tolls, gas, and oil may be considered FSA-eligible.
It’s important to note that, unlike some product purchases, you can’t use your FSA debit card to pay for transportation expenses. Instead, you must submit a claim reimbursement to your FSA administrator.
7. Stock Up On Contact Lenses
Before you realize you're on your last week of contacts and you're rushing around to order more, get ahead of the game and use your FSA dollars to stock on a years-supply! You can simply shop our online store and your order will ship within two weeks. We're also more than happy to help you order your preferred brand over the phone. Send us a quick email at email@example.com and we'll start the process with you.
8. Buy Some New Shades
Have your eye on a new pair of shades? In addition to contact lenses, prescription sunglasses and eyeglasses are FSA-eligible. Eye exams are also covered, so make sure to schedule an eye exam if it's time.
Get your spending spree started by heading over to our online store or browse our selection of prescription frames and sunglasses. You can also stop by our Mobile Vision Clinic to shop our collection of over 400 styles. You do not need an appointment to shop for glasses but feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can let you know when we'll be heading to a visit near you next.