Fun ways to spend your FSA before the end of 2022
“Fun” and “spending pre-tax savings before the end-of-year forfeiture deadline” aren’t two things that usually go together. But if you have money left over in your healthcare flexible spending account, you’ll lose it soon unless you spend it on something. So why not buy something that’ll make your life a little better in 2023?
The maximum you could contribute to a tax-exempt flexible spending account this year was $2,850. The catch, though, is that you can spend that money only on qualified medical purchases, such as co-pays, prescriptions and doctor’s bills. But you can also use it to restock your medicine cabinet, prepare for the “tripledemic” winter, and even pick up some fun and surprising things you might not know about.
What about rolling over unspent FSA dollars into 2023, or having a grace period to spend them? Well, that depends on your specific plan. Your employer can opt to let people roll over up to $570 into next year or to give them an additional 2.5 months at the start of 2023 to use up their accounts. Email your company’s human resources person or benefits administrator and ask if you’re eligible to do either of those things. If your employer didn’t choose one of those options, you’ll need to use up your remaining balance by Dec. 31. Whatever you don’t spend will be forfeited.
Lots of sites have FSA-specific pages, including Amazon, Target, Costco, CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and Wal-Mart. There’s also FSAStore.com, which — as you may have surmised from the name — only sells things you can pay for with an FSA card. (That site even has a “surprisingly eligible” section.) If you’d rather shop in person, most stores that sell FSA-eligible items will let you swipe your FSA card first at checkout, and those items will automatically be paid for that way. If you forget to bring your FSA card, save the receipt and contact your plan administrator about getting reimbursed.
Each year, workers collectively leave as much as $400 million sitting on the table when they don’t spend their entire FSA. Here are some ideas to make sure you don’t become one of them.
Fun in the sun
Do you have any exciting travel plans in 2023? Start packing. Sunscreen (including some high-end brands like Supergoop!), motion sickness medication and bands, massaging gel shoe inserts, compression socks for long flights, prescription sunglasses and contacts, and a first aid kit for your car or suitcase are all FSA-eligible expenses.
Local health officials are again strongly recommending that everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces, but a mandate is looking more iffy.
Up your skin care game
Acne prevention and treatments (including face and body washes), spot treatments, patches and a light therapy tool can all be bought with your FSA. Sunscreen and toner, too — and even some tinted lip balms with SPF.
Have a baby
Fertility monitoring tests and devices, pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, breast pumps and related pumping and breastfeeding supplies, baby monitors and many postpartum care items qualify. Sadly, diapers do not, though toddler training pants and nighttime underwear do.
Avoid having a baby
Condoms and emergency contraception can be purchased with your FSA. Emergency contraception doesn’t expire for a few years, so it never hurts to have some on hand, especially after the surge in demand earlier this year. Contraceptives such as birth control pills are FSA-eligible with a prescription.
On a related note, menstrual care items can also be purchased with your FSA, thanks to the 2020 CARES Act. So can a heating pad.
Buy gifts for yourself (or dependents)
If you did have a baby and didn’t get everything on your registry, look for things like an Owlet sock. An ancestry DNA kit with a health report? Yup, covered — though whether you should do that kind of consumer genetic testing in the first place is debatable. If you wanted to treat yourself to a self-care gift such as acne light therapy, a massaging device, an acupressure cushion or a set of yoga wheels, now’s the time.
For the record:
11:29 a.m. Dec. 14, 2022A previous version of this article said you could buy gifts with leftover FSA funds. FSA funds can be used only for yourself or your dependents, according to IRS rules.
With COVID-19, flu and RSV cases rising, drugmakers and retailers say soaring demand is leading to empty shelves.
Prepare for the ‘tripledemic’
OK, this one isn’t quite as fun. But when you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is haul yourself out to the store for painkillers, cough medicine, a steam inhaler or a humidifier, a thermometer and some electrolyte powder. Buy that stuff ahead of time — though you should avoid stockpiling kids’ medicines right now, while short supplies are making life difficult for the children who really need them.
Broadly, just about anything you’d need to restock a medicine cabinet — a first aid kit, bandages, allergy medicine, heartburn treatment, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, contact solution — can be purchased with your flexible spending account. They may not be the most glamorous purchases you’ll ever make, but it beats leaving your money behind.
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