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Maximizing your FSA money before it expires

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  • Be aware of your FSA deadlines and understand the specific rules for your account.
  • Familiarize yourself with eligible expenses and plan ahead for healthcare needs.
  • Submit reimbursement claims promptly and consider using the FSA store for eligible purchases.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are a fantastic way to save on healthcare expenses by using pre-tax dollars. However, the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule means that any unspent money in your FSA at the end of the plan year could be forfeited. To avoid losing your hard-earned money, it's crucial to understand how to make the most of your FSA funds before they disappear.

The first step in maximizing your FSA money is to be aware of the deadlines associated with your account. Most FSAs operate on a calendar year basis, with the plan year ending on December 31. However, some plans offer a grace period of up to 2.5 months into the new year, allowing you to spend the previous year's funds until March 15. Alternatively, some plans may allow a rollover of up to $610 into the next plan year. It's essential to check with your FSA administrator to understand the specific rules for your account.

Identify FSA Eligible Expenses

To ensure you use your FSA money effectively, familiarize yourself with the list of eligible expenses. FSAs can cover a wide range of healthcare costs, including:

  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter drugs (with a prescription)
  • Medical equipment like crutches and blood pressure monitors
  • Vision care, including glasses and contact lenses
  • Dental care, such as cleanings and orthodontics
  • Mental health services

By knowing what expenses qualify, you can plan your spending and avoid last-minute scrambles to use up your funds.

Plan Ahead for Healthcare Needs

One of the best ways to maximize your FSA money is to plan ahead for your healthcare needs. Schedule routine check-ups, dental cleanings, and eye exams before the end of the year. If you have been postponing any medical procedures or treatments, now is the time to get them done. "Many people forget about their FSA funds until the last minute, but with a little planning, you can make sure every dollar is put to good use," says financial advisor Jane Doe.

Stock Up on Medical Supplies

If you find yourself with extra FSA money as the deadline approaches, consider stocking up on medical supplies. Items like first aid kits, bandages, thermometers, and even sunscreen are often FSA-eligible. These supplies can be useful to have on hand and ensure that your FSA funds are not wasted.

Submit Reimbursement Claims Promptly

Don't forget to submit your reimbursement claims promptly. Some FSA plans require you to submit claims by a specific deadline, often within a few months after the plan year ends. Keep all receipts and documentation for eligible expenses and submit them as soon as possible to avoid missing out on reimbursements.

Take Advantage of FSA Store

Many FSA administrators offer an online FSA store where you can purchase eligible items directly. This can be a convenient way to use up your remaining FSA funds without the hassle of submitting reimbursement claims. "The FSA store is a great resource for finding eligible products and ensuring you don't lose any of your FSA money," notes John Smith, a healthcare benefits expert.

Review and Adjust Your Contributions

Finally, take the time to review and adjust your FSA contributions for the next plan year. If you consistently have leftover funds, consider reducing your contributions. Conversely, if you find yourself running out of FSA money too quickly, you might want to increase your contributions. "It's important to strike the right balance with your FSA contributions to maximize your tax savings and avoid forfeiting funds," advises financial planner Sarah Johnson.

By following these tips and strategies, you can make the most of your FSA money and ensure that none of it goes to waste. With a little planning and awareness, you can take full advantage of the tax savings and healthcare benefits that FSAs offer.

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