We’re taking a slight departure today from our normally scheduled programming to talk about something that doesn’t seem that sexy off the bat–FSA Accounts. A Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, is a special account that allows you to set aside part of your pre-tax wages to pay for certain healthcare expenses for you and your family.
They are a great way to cover routine medical expenses. Because they’re pretax you’re saving anywhere between 12-24% (or whatever tax bracket you’re in). Eligible expenses include prescriptions, contact lenses and over-the-counter products.
But most of the time these accounts are spend-it-or-lose-it by the end of the year and sometimes you’re left with a small lump of money you’re scratching your head with. If you’re in this boat and have a balance left, there are a few over-the-counter items you can spend this money on that makes this really fun.
Sunscreen is my go-to buy when I need to zero out my FSA account at the end of the year. Look for product with a high SPF (30 or higher), this is a qualified as a preventive care expense. I love buying at a time when there’s a gift for purchase. I use Clinique’s bb cream a lot and Clinique is always running awesome specials at varies.
If you wear a prescription, think about grabbing an extra pair or two. One year I bought a cheap, trendy pair and some prescription RayBan glasses. They are great to have in your car, on your nightstand, in your desk–you can never have enough!
First Aid Kit
Most first aid kits are covered. I like buying small ones to fit in my desk at work, my car and places at home. You could also buy one for your babysitter’s house or relative where your kids stay often.
Contacts and Supplies
Like glasses, contacts and contact cases and the cleaning solution is all covered. Stock up now!
Other Tricks and Strategies:
- Gift with Purchase: As mentioned above, I like to buy my sunscreen when it qualifies for gift-with-purchase. So not only am I essentially getting ‘free’ sunscreen, I’m also getting a free gift!
- Get a prescription: Many items are covered with a prescription. I ask my dentist to prescribe me prescription fluoride toothpaste whenever I’m in. Toothpaste is not covered, but if you have a prescription it is!
- Check with your spouse: Their expenses (doctor’s visits, etc) are also covered. Make sure you’re getting their receipts to submit for reimbursement.
- Prepare for the unexpected. I like to have a pregnancy test on hand (this is a covered FSA expense). It makes me feel better knowing I can always check to see on those months that might produce more worry. If you’re planning on trying for a kid, these are great to stock up on anyways. If you’re not wanting a kid, sometimes having a Plan B pill on hand is a good idea and stress eliminator as well. Of course, check with your doctor.
Note: I am in no way an expert in FSA or regulations, however, I’ve been using an account for the last six years. Things are always changing, but many of these strategies I have tried personally and been successful. Individual employers have the final determination of which expenses are covered by their FSA programs.