The end of the year is draw­ing near which may mean you have some extra mon­ey to spend.

No, you didn’t read that wrong.  Many Amer­i­cans have mon­ey in their Flex­i­ble Sav­ings Accounts (FSAs) that they need to use up before the end of the year. FSAs pro­vide the ben­e­fit of putting pre-tax mon­ey aside which opti­mizes your mon­ey.  Your FSA is set up through your employ­er and everyone’s rules are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.  How­ev­er, most plans run Jan­u­ary 1 – Decem­ber 31.  Some com­pa­nies allow their employ­ees to roll over a set amount into the new year.  Check­ing with your HR depart­ment will help you max­i­mize your hard-earned money.

Typ­i­cal­ly, FSA mon­ey has to be used by the end of the year but the COVID-19 relief bill gets you one more year to spend.  That means you have until Decem­ber 31, 2021 to spend FSA mon­ey ear­marked for last year.  The exten­sion also applies for your 2021 FSA mon­ey – the cred­it will be avail­able until the end of 2022.

All funds remain­ing in the account at the end of the grace peri­od are for­feit­ed accord­ing to the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule, which requires all remain­ing funds in an FSA to be for­feit­ed at the end of the plan year.

If you have FSA mon­ey to spend, we’ve com­piled a list of some ways to use up your hard-earned FSA dol­lars that you may not have thought possible:

Fill Your Med­i­cine Cabinet

You can once again pur­chase over the counter med­ica­tion with FSA mon­ey thanks to the CARES  Act.  You can stock up on first aid kits or oth­er items that don’t require a pre­scrip­tion such as:

  • Ban­dages
  • Heat­ing pads
  • Con­tra­cep­tives
  • Fer­til­i­ty and Preg­nan­cy Tests
  • Sleep aids such as Mela­tonin or a sleep mask
  • Motion sick­ness medication
  • Headache med­i­cine
  • Antacids or heart­burn medication
  • Men­stru­al products
  • Con­tact Solution
  • Aller­gy medication
  • Acne creams and cleansers

Alter­na­tive Therapies 

Under IRS law, cer­tain alter­na­tive ther­a­pies are eli­gi­ble for reim­burse­ment. Acupunc­ture and chi­ro­prac­tic care, alter­na­tive med­i­c­i­nal treat­ments, and herbal sup­ple­ments are a great way to use up your funds for the year and get a lit­tle cash back when you most need it.

Den­tal

Den­tal ben­e­fits often work dif­fer­ent­ly than med­ical cov­er­age. Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Den­tal Asso­ci­a­tion, this ben­e­fit is often capped annu­al­ly – gen­er­al­ly between $1,000 and $2,000. If you have unused funds remain­ing in your FSA, now may be the time to sched­ule a last-minute appoint­ment with your den­tist, espe­cial­ly if you might need seri­ous work down the road. This way, you can use up the funds remain­ing in your account by year-end and reduce your out-of-pock­et expense next year.

Pre­scrip­tion Refills 

Refill­ing your pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions at year end are a great way to use up your funds in your med­ical FSA. Take inven­to­ry of your pre­scrip­tion drugs, toss out expired ones, and make that call for a refill to your doc­tor or pharmacy.

Med­ical Equip­ment and Supplies 

Med­ical equip­ment and sup­plies are eli­gi­ble for reim­burse­ment under a med­ical FSA. Walk­ing aids like canes, walk­ers and crutch­es, blood pres­sure mon­i­tors, ther­mome­ters, and joint braces are just a few.  Please note that some will require a note or pre­scrip­tion from your doctor.

Mileage and Oth­er Health­care-Relat­ed Extras 

Trav­el­ing to and from any med­ical facil­i­ty for appoint­ments or treat­ment for your­self or a depen­dent are eli­gi­ble for reim­burse­ment under your FSA. This not only includes trav­el­ing by your own vehi­cle, but also by bus, train, plane, ambu­lance ser­vice and includes park­ing fees and tolls.  How­ev­er, trans­porta­tion expens­es are not eli­gi­ble with a Depen­dent Care Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (DCFSA).

Fam­i­ly Planning

You can put your FSA dol­lars to work if you are a new or soon-to-be mom on prod­ucts such as preg­nan­cy tests, fer­til­i­ty mon­i­tors, pre­na­tal vit­a­mins and breast­feed­ing sup­plies.  On the flip side, con­doms and oth­er con­tra­cep­tives are also FSA eligible.

Nico­tine Ces­sa­tion Products

If you are try­ing to quit smok­ing, you can use your FSA funds toward nico­tine gum, patch­es, lozenges, inhalers and nasal sprays.

Depen­dent Care 

If you have opt­ed to con­tribute to a DCFSA, you can get reim­bursed for day care, preschool, sum­mer camps and non-employ­er spon­sored before and after school pro­grams. In addi­tion, funds con­tributed to this type of FSA can be used for elder­ly day­care if you’re cov­er­ing more than 50% your parent’s main­te­nance costs.

Ances­try Kits with Health Reports

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing about your her­itage and how your DNA can affect your health?  You are in luck! Ances­try kits like 23andMe that include health reports are typ­i­cal­ly con­sid­ered FSA eli­gi­ble to be reim­bursed approx­i­mate­ly 50%.

Peo­ple often don’t use their FSA out of fear that they need to save it for lat­er.  How­ev­er, every year $400–500 mil­lion in FSA funds is for­feit­ed.  Lost cash is nev­er a good thing.  If you still have left­over funds, con­sid­er going to the FSA Store where you can find hun­dreds of eli­gi­ble items and pay for them with your account dol­lars with­out ever leav­ing your house.

This list is not an exhaus­tive list of ways to spend your FSA mon­ey.  Check with your HR depart­ment and insur­ance agent if you have ques­tions about qual­i­fied expenses.