Saturday, January 26, 2013

Use It or Lose It: Spending Suggestions for Your FSA

High! - Year 2 - 285/365
 (Photo credit: Amarand Agasi)
Unlike funds from Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, which can be rolled over into the following year, funds from Flexible Savings Accounts or FSAs are forfeited if they’re not spent by the end of the calendar year. The Internal Revenue Service has also imposed new limits on FSA funds beginning in 2013. At present, there are no limits on how much money each person can put aside in an FSA. However, as of 2013, the maximum amount of funds allowed in an individual FSA will be limited to only $2,500 

If you’ve collected funds in an FSA, now is the time to begin considering how you will spend those funds to avoid losing them. Whether you have a few hundred dollars or thousands set aside, you don’t want to forfeit what is, after all, your own money.

Extra Eyewear and Supplies

If you wear contacts, glasses, or both, consider stocking up on extra eyewear and eyewear care equipment as a means of exhausting leftover FSA funds. Purchase contact lens solution in bulk or look ahead and purchase a year’s worth of disposable lenses, like Acuvue Moist. Splurge on an extra pair of eyeglasses so that you won’t be left fumbling around if you lose or break your main pair of eyeglasses. Splash out on a great pair of prescription sunglasses and your eyes will thank you on every summer day. 

Expensive Medical Procedures 

Are you overdue for an overall physical examination, oral examination or immunizations? Are you thinking of getting braces or having other dental work done? Has your doctor advised you to obtain physical therapy for acute or chronic pain? If you have accumulated several thousand dollars in your FSA account, you should seriously consider going ahead with those procedures this year. Many medical professionals will allow you to set up payment plans that will allow you to pay for ongoing treatment from your present FSA even after the beginning of 2013, Smart Money reports. 

Prescription Refills

FSA funds can be used to purchase prescription medications for which you must pay out of pocket. If you are running low on prescription medications, now is the time to restock them. If you have the funds available, ask your physician to supply you with a prescription that would allow you to purchase several months worth of prescriptions at a time, which may also allow you to save money. Having extra medication on hand can be helpful when you travel or if you’re facing a budget shortfall. 

Replenish Your First Aid Kit

As of January 1, 2011, funds from an FSA could no longer be used to buy over the counter medications, except for insulin. However, over the counter first aid supplies are still a valid FSA expenditure. Non-drug items such as bandages, sterile gauze, tweezers, gloves, scissors and blankets are useful items to have on hand in your home, your car and in your office, and all are allowable. Accidents can happen anywhere, and having a well stocked first aid kit can mean the difference between saving a life and life tragically lost.

Richard Harrelson is a personal finance researcher. He is constantly looking at ways people can adapt to a changing economy and end up in front. His articles mainly appear on personal finance blogs.

For Further Reading

Benefits Pro: 2013 HSA and FSA Cheat Sheet
Investopedia: Seven Last-Minute Ways to Spend Your FSA Dollars
Kids Health from Nemours: First Aid Kit
Smart Money: Last-Minute FSA Moves

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