Finances & Money

Using the last of our flexible spending dollars

This past year, I elected to contribute $500 to our FSA (Flexible Spending Account). It’s a pretax account most employers now have for (at least) salaried employees to contribute pretax dollars to health-related expenses. It’s a use it or lose it account, so we needed to be sure we used all that money before year-end (Monday at midnight).

Last week, we found we still had about $180 to use. Uh oh! Luckily, Stacie needed new prescription glasses. Since she mainly wears contacts, she hasn’t gotten new glasses in about 7 years, and they’re starting to show in style and form. So, she visited our eyecare specialist, got an exam and found out her current glasses are too strong for her eyes. Well, that would explain why she got headaches sometimes while wearing them.

We tested out frames for about an hour and finally decided on a conservative pair with a pink tint to highlight Stacie’s hair (no, she doesn’t have pink hair). Total Cost: $169. So that means we still have $11 to spend by Monday. I think we can find some cold medicines or something to spend that money on by then.

Next year, we have $1000 to spend via our FSA, but with my upcoming rehab in the new year, contact lens refills for Stacie, and regular copays and deductibles with our new medical plan, I think we’ll be fine with the higher amount.

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Clever Dude


  • I’m not sure if this is common on all fsa accounts, but we actually have a grace period in the following year to use up the funds. I think the date for us is March 15th.

    Plus, you could always go back and find receipts for other things covered by your FSA account — vitamins, contact lens solution, over the counter drugs, etc.

  • Can you explain how FSAs really works? I have this offered from work, but it’s never clear to me how you actually get to use the money..who decides what is a ‘medical’ expense? Is there some list of things that you can use it for? I worry that I would put the money in a FSA then ‘whoever’ would deny my therapy (or OTC, or eyeglasses, or dentist) payments for example (things that are covered very poorly if at all by my regular insurance). Thanks!

  • Mike, obviously the best thing would be to ask your benefits department because they should have clear materials that show what is covered by your FSA. However, I’ll try to answer some of your questions here.

    Every FSA has an inclusion and exclusion list that’s pretty clear. This year, I wasn’t required to submit any receipts since I only paid for copays, prescriptions and glasses. I doubt any reputable FSA provider would deny something clearly listed on their inclusions list, so look over the list first, and call the FSA to clarify any uncertainties.

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