Manisha's Money Saving Tips

5 Ways To Use Your FSA... Before Year End 2010

By Manisha Thakor | December 2, 2010

The end of the year is almost here - and that means it's a great time to put any remaining balance in your flexible spending account ("FSA") to work. These funds have to be used up by the end of the year (or by the end of your workplace's grace period) or they are forfeited. So as we head into the holiday season, give yourself the gift of saving up to 40% off qualified healthcare expenses by using your FSA. Below are 5 easy ways to do just that:

  1. Get a flu shot and update your routine vaccinations. Has everyone in your household gotten their annual flu shot? Is everyone up-to-date on vaccinations? If not, now is the time to get them to make sure your body is in its top shape and able to fight illnesses that seem to spread quickly during the winter months. My husband and I were able to get our flu shots at our local drug store with minimal wait.
  2. Purchase necessary healthcare supplies and medicines. While you are getting that flu shot you can also use your 2010 FSA funds at the drug store to buy a variety of OTC items such as band-aids, allergy and sinus medications, pain relievers and contact lens solution. By buying items in advance, you'll have what you need on hand in case things get busy in the New Year. While you're at it, do you need new glasses? If so, don't forget that you can use your FSA funds for those as well!
  3. Go see the doctor for routine check ups. If you have not already visited your general practitioner, dentist, and eye doctor for your routine exams, schedule those appointments before the end of 2010. In addition, if you see specialists such an acupuncturist or chiropractor, take a look at your FSA balance and see if you want to schedule any additional visits before year-end.
  4. Invest in your health and wellness. When it comes to taking good care of your physical self, an ounce of prevention can go a long way. So if you've vowed to stop smoking or lose weight, your FSA can help. Smoking cessation programs are FSA eligible as is weight loss counseling, provided you have a note from your doctor deeming it a medical necessity.
  5. Track your medical mileage. Did you know that gas and transportation fees to and from eligible medical appointments are also FSA eligible? You can get back up to 16.5 cents per mile*, so be sure to log your miles as you travel between your home and the doctor's office.

Last but not least, spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the wide array of items that are FSA eligible. A recent study showed that 80% of household decision makers had trouble identifying exactly what items they could spend FSA dollars on. Thankfully, you don't have to be part of this statistic. On the SaveSmartSpendHealthy.com website there is an easy-to-browse list of eligible expenses.

When I first saw the entire list, I was surprised at how many of the healthcare items I have to buy anyway are FSA eligible. Taking the time to make sure you use up your remaining 2010 FSA fund is a great way to make sure you are in tip-top shape to enter the New Year!

*16.5 cents per mile is the rate for 2010. The 2011 reimbursement rate is 19 cents per mile.

Real Stories. Real Users.

Abby

From Florida

“My FSA is a life saver! Last year I was diagnosed with a malignant tumor and luckily I was able to have the necessary surgeries to remove it immediately since my FSA covered all of the out-of-pocket costs for my deductible and medicines.”

Annual Savings: $816

Read more about how real people use their pre-tax benefits.