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If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you are probably running out of time using that money. Depending on your employer’s rules, you may lose some of it if you don’t spend your FSA money by the grace period. Lost money is never a good thing.
For strangers, an FSA is an employer-sponsored expense account. You deposit pre-tax dollars into the account and can spend that money on a range of healthcare expenses. It’s like a Health Savings Account (HSA), but with a few big differences: Your HSA funds roll over from year to year so there is no deadline to spend it all. However, with an FSA, most of your funds will expire at the end of the year. Too bad.
The good news is, the law allows employers to carry over $ 500 into the new year and allow up to two and a half months to use that money (March 15). Depending on your employer, you might not even have that long. The deadline for many account holders is getting closer. So, if you’re going to have to use your FSA money anytime soon, here are a handful of creative ways to spend it.
1. Buy new colors.
Go to the optician, get an eye prescription, and use your FSA funds to buy new specs or colors. Contact lenses and solution are also covered.
You can also buy reading glasses with your FSA money and don’t even need a prescription.
2. Try acupuncture.
Scientists disagree about the effectiveness of acupuncture, but some studies show that it is useful for treating chronic pain, arthritis, and even depression. If you’ve been curious about the treatment, now is a good time to give it a try: your FSA money will in some cases cover acupuncture sessions. You can even buy an acupressure mat without a prescription.
If you’d rather go to a chiropractor, your FSA funding will cover these visits too.
3. Get staples.
Good news: most of them are FSA Enabled if you run out of standard over-the-counter medications. These include headache medications, pain relievers, antacids, heartburn, and anything else your heart (or other parts of the body) desires.
There is one major caveat, however: most of these require a prescription to be eligible, so you may need to schedule an appointment with your doctor first. Visit the FSA store to find out which over-the-counter items require a prescription.
4. Treat your feet.
Give your feet a break with a pair of massage gel shoe insoles. They are FSA enabled, along with a few other foot care products, including arch supports, toe pillows, and callus clippers.
In some cases, foot massagers or circulators may also be covered. For example, here is one that is available through the FSA store without the need for a prescription.
5. Get clear skin.
Yes, acne treatments, toners, and other skin care products are eligible for FSA expenses. Again, most of them require a prescription for a refund, but don’t let that stop you. Your doctor is familiar with the rules and you shouldn’t have any problems getting a prescription. And as WageWorks points out, your recipe will last for a year too. Review the rules of your FSA plan to see if you need a separate prescription for each item, or if you can include multiple products or drug categories in a single prescription.
While we look at faces, lip balm is another great way to spend your FSA funds – and you don’t need a prescription for that. This vibrating facial massager also doesn’t require a prescription.
6. Fill your medicine cabinet.
If your medicine cabinet runs empty or you don’t have one at first, fill it with a handful of FSA-approved items. Here are some items that don’t require a prescription:
You can also stock up on first aid kits. You don’t need a prescription to buy these, and many of them come with pain relievers and other medications.
7. Make sure you are covered in the bedroom.
Condoms are FSA-enabled, as are pregnancy tests, monitors, and fertility kits. Female contraceptives are also insured if you have a prescription.
8. Prepare for your upcoming vacation.
If you are planning a vacation this year, use your FSA money to stock up on essential information for your trip. For example:
9. Sleep better.
If you have trouble sleeping, sleeping pills are an option, although you need a prescription. If you want to try a sleep mask, many of them are available without a prescription. For example, there is this relaxing sleep mask and this thermal eye mask.
On the nights you sleep before a cold or flu, a vaporizer can make a world of difference, and these are legitimate too (no prescription required). Bed warmers like this one are often covered too.
Your FSA funding is probably covering more than you think. So if you need to use them up by the deadline, get creative. This list should help you get started. In many drugstores you can find out which articles are suitable for the FSA when shopping online.
10. Go to the dentist.
While basics like toothpaste and cosmetic procedures like whitening treatments aren’t suitable for the FSA, most of the costs come at your dentist’s office. This includes co-payments and deductibles as well as fees for cleaning, x-rays, fillings and even the cost of braces. There are also some products that you can buy over the counter without ever going to the dentist. Some mouthguards that prevent you from grinding your teeth at night are just as suitable as cleaning solutions for retainers and dentures.
11. Try some new devices.
If you still have some cash to burn, it’s a good time to try out some expensive high-tech gadgets that you’ve been curious about but otherwise may not want to enjoy. The list includes phototherapy treatments for acne, vibrating nausea reliever tapes, electrical stimulation devices for chronic pain, stethoscope-attached stethoscopes, and smart thermometers.
12. Go to Amazon.
There are many FSA-approved items available on Amazon, including foot health items, cold and allergy medication, eye care, and first aid kits. For more information on how to spend your FSA money on Amazon, please visit here.
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