6 Smart Ways to Spend Your FSA Dollars Before They Disappear


Use it or lose it. This is how many employers’ FSA plans work.

FSA stands for Flexible Savings Account. These plans allow employers and employees to make pre-tax contributions that can be used for medical expenses. But there is a catch with FSAs. The contributions must be used before a set deadline, typically December 31st. Once the deadline has passed, unused dollars (even employee contributions) return to the employer.

Right now, most need every dollar they can get. Therefore, it is important employers understand the perimeters of their specific plan and maximize its benefit. Employers should first either review their FSA’s plan or meet with their HR department to become more knowledgeable about their FSA’s guidelines. Assuming, the FSA is a traditional plan with a December 31st deadline, let’s consider some smart ways to spend the FSA dollars before they disappear. These purchases are items that you will likely need in the upcoming year anyway.

1. First aid items.

Bandages, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wash, and alcohol wipes are a few items that would fit into this category. Especially if you have children, these items are frequently used and in need of regular replenishing.

2. Pain relievers.

Pain relievers, like ibuprofen, have a decent shelf life. Some pain relievers remain effective for four years after the container has been opened. Because of this, it is likely that purchasing a bottle of ibuprofen will not go to waste, even if you already have a bottle in your medicine cabinet.

3. Sunscreen.

Unless you are living in Florida right now, ensuring you have an ample supply of sunscreen is not a top priority. But it can be a smart purchase. You will need sunscreen this summer, and your older bottles are likely running low.

4. Allergy relief medicine.

Spring will be here before you know it. So, go ahead and make sure you have a good supply of your go-to allergy relief medicine.

5. Feminine products.

This would include menstrual pads, tampons, wipes, and pantiliners.

6. Medical devices. 

There are several medical devices that can be purchased with FSA dollars. Thermometers, heating pads, personal EKGs, and portable nebulizers are just of few examples. Of course, be sure to check with your FSA guidelines to ensure the item is covered.

Fortunately, finding products on which you can spend your FSA dollars is not difficult. Many stores and pharmacies now have pages or filters that can help you identify FSA-eligible items. Both Walgreens and CVS have product pages dedicated to FSA-eligible items. FSAstore.com is a site entirely dedicated to FSA-eligible expenses.

Do not leave money on the table. Take full advantage of your FSA. Make some smart purchases before the December 31 deadline hits.