5 Creative Ways to Use Up Your FSA Money By the End of the Year

Find out ways to use (not lose!) your flexible spending account money.

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Alternative medicine, family planning products, smoking cessation — here are some creative ideas for spending your FSA funds

Believe it or not, we’re more than halfway through 2021, which means that time is running out for spending down your FSA account.

A problem arises, though, when you’ve put more money in your FSA than you’re going to use — and it’s set to expire at the end of the year. What you’ve got on your hands is an opportunity for some creative uses for your FSA account. Here are some ideas for ways to use up your FSA account that can help you get closer to zero by the time January 1 comes around.

First, what exactly is an FSA?

A flexible spending account or flexible spending arrangement is an account that’s used to help employees save on taxes and pay for qualified expenses usually related to healthcare. Contributions are made pre-tax, which means that your taxable income is a bit lower if you contribute to an FSA. With an FSA you also have money stowed away, ideally for costs you plan to incur throughout the year.

But things change. For a variety of reasons, plenty of people hit the midway point of the year and realize they have a ton of money left in their FSA that they’ll either have to use or lose.

A flexible spending account or flexible spending arrangement is an account that’s used to help employees save on taxes and pay for qualified expenses usually related to healthcare. Contributions are made pre-tax, which means that your taxable income is a bit lower if you contribute to an FSA.

How long do I have to spend my FSA funds?

While employers can offer things like grace periods to extend how long FSA funds can be used, especially if there’s a good number of people who often forget about the deadline. However, they generally have to be used by the end of each calendar year. Some FSAs allow for a certain amount to carry over, but it’s rarely an entire balance.

What can I spend my FSA money on?

Depending on the specifics of your flexible spending account or flexible spending agreement, most people can spend their FSA money on medical equipment like bandages and crutches, medications, and menstrual care products. FSA accounts are often used to reimburse the cost of health insurance deductibles and copayments for medical services.

How do I spend my FSA money by the end of the year?

Those aren’t the only ways you can spend your FSA funds, though. If you’ve got money to burn and you’re interested in using it rather than losing it, here are a few creative ways to use up that money. Be sure to look at the specifics of your FSA to make sure any purchase or reimbursement you want to make is actually covered by your specific plan first.

  • Alternative medicine. From chiropractor visits to massage therapy and acupuncture, some FSAs let you spend your money on treatments like these that are considered alternative.
  • Air quality devices. This one can be a bit tricky, but could apply to you if you have asthma or other respiratory concerns. Your doctor may be willing to write a letter that explains how something like air purifiers, air filters, or maybe even air conditioners can help with your condition. If that happens, you could very well get these products covered by your FSA dollars.
  • Family planning products. Pregnancy tests, ovulation monitors, prenatal vitamins, fertility treatments, condoms, birth control (with a prescription), breastfeeding products, birthing classes, and even certified doulas can all qualify for FSA savings.
  • Certain skin care products. Acne treatment and even sunscreen can qualify for FSA spending. While you might not need a ton of sunscreen at the end of the year, that stuff takes years to expire so it’s totally worth it to stock up if you want to. When it comes to acne, products that include active ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide typically qualify and are found in plenty of over-the-counter creams, cleansers, serums, and more.
  • Smoking cessation. If you’re looking to quit smoking, FSA funds can often be applied to the cost of many products designed to help people quit smoking — from nicotine gum and patches to lozenges and nasal sprays.
  • Baby products. Got a new member of the family? A variety of products for babies as well as new moms (think breast pumps) can qualify for FSA spending.
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