spending

Ways to Spend Your Flexible Spending Account Money by March 15 Deadline

Many workers will be hitting the drugstore in the next few days to use up leftover flexible spending account money from 2018 so they don’t lose it.

Question: I just realized that I have a few hundred dollars left over from my flexible spending account from last year that I must spend by March 15 or else I’ll lose it. What can I use it for on short notice?

Answer: You can use money from your flexible spending account for out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as your health insurance deductible, co-payments, prescription drugs, and vision and dental care. You probably won’t be able to schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist on such short notice, but there are several things you can use your FSA money for in a hurry, including some drugstore items you may not have realized are eligible expenses.

For example, you can use your FSA money to stock up on contact lenses and contact lens solution, as well as eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses. Or tap the account to buy thermometers, blood pressure monitors, prenatal vitamins, breast pumps, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, hot/cold packs, first aid kits, bandages, orthopedic braces and even an acupressure neck pillow. “What most consumers don’t know is that the eligible FSA expenses extend beyond basic medical supplies to include items like batteries for a hearing aid, glucose test strips, acupuncture, and even wheelchairs and walking aids,” says Leslie Antunes, chief growth officer of Alegeus, which administers FSAs for employers.

Many drugstore items don’t require a prescription, but some of them do. See FSAStore.com’s eligibility list for details. FSAStore.com specializes in selling items that are FSA-eligible. Some FSA plans provide a debit card that makes it easy to buy eligible items at the drugstore.

The FSA deadline to use-it-or-lose-it varies among employers. More than one-third of employers offer a grace period until March 15 to use the previous year’s FSA money, while nearly half let you roll over $500 from one year to the next, according to a study by the Society of Human Resource Management. And about 17% offer neither a rollover nor a grace period, requiring people to use up the money in their accounts by December 31. It’s not unusual for workers to miss the deadline, forfeiting a total of about $400 million annually, says Antunes.

Most Popular

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration
Politics

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration

The Kiplinger Letter forecasts President-Elect Joe Biden’s biggest priorities -- and the likelihood of progress on them.
November 19, 2020
The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021

Most of the best healthcare stocks for 2021 will have some sort of ties to COVID, whether it's producing a vaccine or cure, or benefiting from the vir…
November 20, 2020
16 Worst Gifts to Impulse Buy for the Holidays
shopping

16 Worst Gifts to Impulse Buy for the Holidays

Don't let those holiday sale promotions persuade you into buying something now that will be much cheaper later.
November 18, 2020

Recommended

Retirees, Get Ready for Virtual Video Visits for the Holidays
Smart Buying

Retirees, Get Ready for Virtual Video Visits for the Holidays

Tap into virtual video software, age-friendly gadgets, video apps and accessories to make seasonal gatherings safe.
December 4, 2020
11 Surprising Things That Are Taxable
Tax Breaks

11 Surprising Things That Are Taxable

If you picked up any of the income or property on our list, make sure you declare it on your next tax return.
December 3, 2020
13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits
social security

13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

You may have dreamed of a tax-free retirement, but if you live in these 13 states, your Social Security benefits are subject to a state tax. That's on…
December 2, 2020
18 States With Scary Death Taxes
inheritance

18 States With Scary Death Taxes

Federal estate taxes are no longer a problem for all but the extremely wealthy, but several states have their own estate taxes and inheritance taxes t…
December 2, 2020