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:
- Heating pads
- 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
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 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.
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).
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.
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.