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How to Spend Down Your FSA

Posted By Jim On 12/03/2009 @ 11:08 am In Personal Finance | 20 Comments

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, chances are you still have a few dollars left in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), if you have one. The old backup solution is to stock up on over the counter supplies but that might not be the most effective use of your FSA dollars. OTC products are great as a backup, but there are a few things you should try to do before just buying a million bottles of Advil.

This post is part of the Bargaineering Annual Financial Review [4] week series where we take a closer look at the four major facets of personal finance and see if we can do better. This post is part of day four – beating back the tax man.

Visit the Doctor, Dentist

Last year, I wrote my last minute FSA ideas [5] post three days before the end of the year, which was cutting it way too close (it was accurate though, certainly last minute!). Since it’s early December, I recommend that you try to spend it on a visit to the doctor for a regular check-up or the dentist for a cleaning.

I used to hate visiting the dentist and getting my teeth cleaned. Very few things are worse than lying back helplessly as someone scrapes your teeth with sharp metal picks, ugh. But I made two changes that made the process so much better – I began flossing regularly and I went to six-month cleanings. By going more often and flossing, the process was faster and much shorter.

Chiropractor

Chiropractor visits, if they are medically necessary, are FSA eligible, so make an appointment if this applies to you. I had never been to a chiropractor before I was adjusted in September, and it was awesome, but easily a dozen people have told me that visiting one helped them immeasurably. Many of them had been in minor car accidents that threw their back or neck out of alignment and a few visits to the chiropractor beat months of taking pain medication and using other remedies. A good place to look for a chiropractor near you is the Planet Chiropractic practitioner directory [6].

Contact Lenses, Eyeglasses

If you wear contacts, you could always buy an extra box or two with your extra FSA money. The downside to buying it a la carte like this is that most manufacturers will give you a rebate if you buy a year’s supply of contacts, so you’ll be paying more per box this way. That being said, you know how often you go through contact lenses so they won’t just sit in your closet for months.

Over the Counter

When all else fails, you can always stock up on OTC drugs and other medical supplies. I usually buy all my stuff from Drugstore.com because they have an “FSA store” and label FSA eligible products with a blue and white check mark. While most OTC drugs are included, I find it easier to look there and see on a page what’s eligible, rather than checking a list. That being said, here’s the list:

  • Contact lens solution
  • First aid kits
  • Band-aids, blister band-aids
  • Motion/sea/car sickness pills
  • Pain relief – Advil, Tylenol, Bayer, etc.
  • Electric heating pads
  • Thermometers
  • Allergy medicine – Loratadine is always good to have, it’s the antihistamine in Claritin, at a fraction of the price.
  • Healing lotions
  • Acid reflux, Acid reducer drugs
  • Smoking cessation products
  • Braces, supports, ACE bandages
  • Ice packs – for those sprained ankles
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Defibrillator

How do you spend down your last few FSA dollars?

(Photo: clevercupcakes [7])


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[4] Bargaineering Annual Financial Review: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/bargaineering-2009-annual-financial-review-week.html

[5] last minute FSA ideas: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/last-minute-fsa-spending-ideas.html

[6] Planet Chiropractic practitioner directory: http://www.planetc1.com/

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