Flex Funds for Summer Camp

Ask Kim

Flex Funds for Summer Camp

You may be able to use money in your flexible-spending account to cover the cost of camp for your children.

When I made my flexible-spending account contribution for dependent care, I may have overestimated my expenses. What happens if I’m not able to spend my full $5,000 contribution by the end of the year? Can I change my contributions midyear?

You generally can’t change your FSA contributions in the middle of the year without a qualified life-changing event, such as getting married, having a child or experiencing the death of a dependent. Some dependent-care FSAs, however, will let you adjust your contributions mid-year if you can show that you have a change in daycare costs, says Andrew Chunis of Advanced Benefit Strategies in Unionville, Conn. Ask your employer about its rules now, because you’ll lose any money that you don’t use by the end of the plan year.

But you may be able to use the FSA money on more expenses than you realize. As long as your children are under age 13 and you need child care so that you can work or look for work (or so that one parent can attend school full-time), you can use the money for before- or after-school care or special programs, a nanny or babysitter, and even the cost of day camp during the summer or school holidays. School tuition (beyond preschool) and overnight camp do not qualify.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.