Use Your FSA before It’s Too Late

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The end of the year is approaching. If you happen to have a Flexible Spending Account, and it still has funds sitting inside of it, you need to spend them and spend them quickly. If you don’t, those funds could disappear into thin air.

FSA Deadlines

The contents of your Flexible Spending Account may disappear if you don’t use them up by the end of the year. Unlike a Health Savings Account, the contents will not roll over into the next year. If you don’t use them by the deadline of December 31st, you lose them. That’s a waste of money.

There are some exceptions to this. Your employer might offer you a grace period to use up the remaining funds from the previous year’s plan. The maximum grace period is 2.5 months, which would leave you until mid-March to finish your spending. However, this is all up to your employer. You will have to discuss the terms of your FSA with your employer to see how long of a grace period they can offer you.

The amount of funds you are allowed to carry over into your FSA will be restricted during your grace period. As of 2023, the IRS stated the FSA carryover limit is $610. So, if you have more than that amount currently sitting in your account, you could risk losing it past December 31st. You can’t bring it all with you into the following year’s FSA.

What Should You Do with Your FSA?

Your FSA can help you pay for certain health-related expenses that your health insurance plan may not cover, like dental care and vision care. If you haven’t seen your dentist this year, your FSA could offer coverage for appointments offering teeth cleaning, fillings, crowns and even tooth extractions. If you haven’t had your vision tested recently, you can use your FSA to cover the costs of a routine eye exam, along with the costs of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses and contact lenses. Try to squeeze these appointments into your schedule before it’s too late.

What if you don’t need to book any health appointments? That’s fair enough. In that case, you should use the funds sitting in your FSA to stock up on health-related items. These are just some examples of FSA-eligible items that you might want to have in your medicine cabinet:

  • Allergy medicine
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Bandages
  • Cough medicine
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Menstrual products
  • Pain relievers
  • Sunscreen

What Shouldn’t You Do with Your FSA?

Don’t treat your FSA as an emergency fund. While your FSA can cover some health-related emergency expenses outside of your health insurance coverage, it shouldn’t be seen as your only safety net in this type of crisis.

Why not? Well, your FSA is a time-sensitive account. You will have a deadline to use up the funds inside of it — and if you miss that deadline, you could risk losing those funds. You don’t want to avoid using up those precious funds just in case an emergency expense falls into your lap. At best, if that emergency doesn’t end up happening, you might find that you’ve missed out on making non-emergency expenses, like booking a dental cleaning or purchasing a new pair of prescription glasses. At worst, you’ve waited too long and wasted your money.

Better Safety Nets

A classic emergency fund is a much better safety net for this purpose. The contents of your emergency fund won’t automatically disappear on December 31st. You can make a withdrawal whenever you need to. And you won’t have a limit on the type of emergencies you can use your savings for — it could be health-related emergencies, car repairs, urgent vet visits and much more.

If you don’t have enough in your emergency fund, you could apply for a line of credit loan online. Go to a website like CreditFresh to see whether you check off all of the requirements to apply for this type of online loan. If you do, you can quickly fill out and submit an application. An approved line of credit could give you access to enough temporary funds to handle an emergency expense when you don’t have enough savings readily available.

A line of credit should only be used for emergencies. Do not use it for routine expenses.

Time is of the essence! You will have to spend the remainder of your FSA funds soon. You don’t want to cross the deadline and watch it all disappear!

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