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Finances & Money Taxes

Spend your remaining FSA Dollars!

You have until December 31st to spend your elections to your Flexible Spending Plan (FSA).You have until March 31st to submit receipts for reimbursements though. If you’re unfamiliar with an FSA, it’s a pretax spending plan for medical expenses like doctor visits, medicines, eyecare and other items. If your employer offers the program, I suggest looking into it, especially if you have kids!

We elected $1000 for this year, and while we weren’t sure we would use it all, I’m glad we did. Between two herniated disks for me (and the rehab/chiropractor visits) and a recently broken finger for Stacie (2 days before Christmas), plus contacts for Stacie and regular doctor visits for both of us, we’ve used up all but $25.33 as of today. I’ll be heading to the local Rite Aid or CVS to stock up on items like:

  • Band-aids – not just for injuries. As a guy, they’re good for protecting certain partsĀ  of my chest anatomy while running longer distances (you guy runners know what I mean). And I plan on running more in the new year.
  • Medical tape – with Stacie’s broken finger still healing, we have to keep it in a splint which requires that pricey medical tape.
  • Pain meds – while I don’t tend to take pain medication as it never seems to help me, it’s good to have some ibuprofen around to reduce swelling from injuries, and to help the wife through her “friend’s visits”.
  • Antacids – While neither of us get acid reflux or heartburn often, when it strikes, I want to be prepared with Pepto Bismol or Alkaseltzer.

That’ll probably take up the rest of my $25. Here are some more FSA spending ideas from Jim at BfFP.

As a note, we only elected $900 for next year, hoping that we’ll be less accident- and injury-prone in 2009. What are your plans for your FSA in 2009? How did you do in 2008?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Some FSAs cover massage therapy, though they may require a doctor’s recommendation/note. I have a few massage clients who just get one whenever they go to their doctor and keep it handy for when they need me (I work on a lot of marathon runners and cyclists). If the MT writes out your receipt in an FSA-friendly way, you could use up funds to pre-pay for next year’s sessions or buy a gift certificate.

  • Good tip, I don’t have that plan with my employer although that would have been nice since I recently had finger surgery and had expenses through that and prob will get more bills in the future.

  • Question!!!!

    How do you go about ‘spending’ the money in the FSA? I am not familiar with this because I never had it before. I bought stuff at CVS and it says I have an eligible amount but what do I do with this?

    I know it sounds silly but I am lost on this topic. How does the FSA work?

  • @lulu, you have to be enrolled in an FSA through your employer (ask HR if they have a plan). For 2009, you enroll in the program in 2008 and decide how much should be deducted from your payroll when you enroll, generally when you enroll in all your other benefits (Oct/Nov). It comes out pretax from your paycheck.

    Depending on your plan, you might get a debit card that’s loaded with all the money you elected up front, or you might have to submit receipts for reimbursement to the plan provider. Once all your elected funds are used up, then that’s it for the year. But if you don’t use it all up, then you lose it, which is why it’s important to elect the right amount for the next year because you can’t change it!

    That’s the basics. Hope that helps

  • @ CD
    Yes that helps. I am sooooooooo silly because I have this coming out of my check but forgot about it. I only put $60 for the year so I guess I need to go look for the forms and fill out the reimbursement.

    The plan person was talking about signing me up for some deduction and I just signed what she was doing. I vaguely remember $60 a year being mentioned…….

    I guess I need to pay better attention. Depending on how things go I might take that stuff off my deductions next year.

  • I just submitted the reimbursement for the last of my FSA money today. Unbelievably, I really did use up the entire $900 allocated for this year, and I still haven’t even gotten my new eyeglasses yet. Thankfully, that’ll come out of next year’s money, I only opted for $700 so here’s hoping it’s a relatively healthy year.

  • All plans are different, but if you didn’t use up your 2008 dollars, don’t fret.

    Most plans have a “Grace Period” where you can claim 2009 expenses out of your remaining 2008 balance.

    For my plan, we have until 6/30/2009 to submit expenses for 2008, but we also have a 2.5 month grace period (through 3/15/20009).

    So, I had about 150 left in my 2008 account at the end of the year, but I can claim expenses through 3/15/2009 on my 2008 dollars. Our expense form has a check box to designate whether to take it out of 2008 or 2009.

  • We did this thing last year. we had almost $150 left in our FSA and didnt want to lose it. then our neighbor told us about the Fresh Air Club and how we should have our home air filters delivered instead of worrying about going to the store all the time (plus it was cheaper than home depot). So we went to and signed up for their air filter subscription service. since my wife an i both suffer from allergies, this was a great way to keep the air in our home pollen free! Plus, we didnt lose our FSA dollars.

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