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How to spend your FSA money before the end of the year

You don't want to lose it!

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A flexible spending account (FSA) lets people put aside pre-tax dollars to cover qualified medical expenses, and because you don't pay taxes on that money, you save an amount equal to the taxes you would have paid on the money you set aside. It’s a lot more straightforward than it sounds, and mostly you just need to know what you’re allowed to spend it on.

Depending on your employer’s rules, if you don’t spend your FSA money by the end of the grace period, you potentially lose some of it. While all of your health saving accounts (HSA) rolls over, only up to $550 of your FSA funds do.

Most companies offer a card for you to use FSA money, and it can be used for more than just doctor’s appointments and specialist visits. There are a number of different ways to spend it, including on many items you might not realize actually qualify for medical expenses.

People who want to use up their FSA before year’s end can buy anything that is approved for “medical use.” We've narrowed down the IRS-approved list of medical expenses to these top ways to use up your FSA if the clock is ticking and you have a chunk more than $550 in your account.

Visit your dentist
Has it been a while since your last cleaning? If so, take your FSA funds to the dentist. Things like floss, toothpaste and whitening treatments aren’t eligible for FSA, but most of a dentist visit’s costs are. That includes co-pays, fees for general teeth cleanings, X-rays and fillings as well as braces, extractions and dentures.

Get a new pair of eyeglasses
Use your FSA funds to buy a new pair of glasses. If you need an updated eye prescription, head to the optometrist to get one before buying eyeglasses or prescription sunglasses. You can also get contact lenses and solution with an FSA. But if you want to forego the eye doctor and just need some reading glasses, you don’t need a prescription and can still use the funds to cover the cost.

Stock up on over-the-counter medicines
Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can now use your FSA funds to buy over-the-counter medications without a prescription. That includes things like pain relievers, allergy medication and more. Tylenol, Advil, Motrin and Benadryl, including generic counterparts, and several other OTC medications are FSA-eligible for the first time since 2011.

Get other medicine cabinet staples
Another way to use your FSA funds (or as much of them as possible so the minimum can roll over) is to stock up on other common medicine cabinet staples. Additional items that are FSA-eligible and don’t require a prescription are: bandages, thermometers, heating pads, ice packs, nasal spray, eye drops and lip balm. You can also use FSA money on blood pressure monitors and joint braces.

Drop some on a first-aid kit
You never know when a first-aid kit might come in handy. Using your FSA, you can get an already-stocked kit with bandages, tape, gauze, antibacterial treatments and anything else you’d normally find inside one, or build your own by separately purchasing the required items.

Try acupuncture or visit the chiropractor
While the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic pain is an ongoing conversation in the scientific community, you can still try it for self-care purposes or as alternative treatment for headaches and other ailments — and it’s FSA-eligible. And if slouching over your desk while working from home has caused you back troubles, you can also use your FSA for a visit to the chiropractor.

Opt for prescription skin care
If your skin needs a boost and drugstore brand cleansers and creams aren’t working, you can ask your doctor for prescription-strength skin care. Acne treatments like retinol creams, toner and other skin care products are all eligible for FSA spending. You will need a prescription though and your doctor might send you to a dermatologist first, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Look into wellness gadgets
If you have a good amount of funds left to spend, consider looking into wellness gadgets that you’d otherwise not want to spend money on. Some things to use your FSA for could be light therapy or a dawn simulator for seasonal affective disorder, a nausea relief band, personal steam inhalers or a neti pot.

Contraceptives and other family planning items
Contraceptives like condoms and prescription birth control count as FSA-eligible items, as do pregnancy tests, fertility kits, prenatal vitamins and breast pumps.

Feminine care products
Per the CARES Act, you can now also use FSA funds for feminine care products, including tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges and more.

Shoe inserts
Your FSA also covers select foot care items so you can walk comfortably. Massaging gel shoe inserts are FSA-eligible, as are arch braces, toe cushions and callus trimmers.

Purchase home health care products
According to the FSAstore.com, physical therapy, walking and orthopedic aids, acid reflux pillows and incontinence products are examples of FSA eligible home health care products you can buy. FSAstore.com is an extensive online marketplace for guaranteed FSA-eligible products and a great resource for finding more useful ways to spend your money so you’re not losing any of it.