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Smart Ways to Use Up Your Flexible Spending Account

Smart Ways to Use Up Your Flexible Spending Account

Surprise: Your FSA probably covers more expenses than you think.

The year is almost over. Do you still have a balance in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA)? The funds can be used tax-free for eligible medical expenses—but only if you spend them within a certain timeframe. The deadline is often December 31st; check your plan. After the cutoff date, the money disappears faster than a Lego in a shag rug.

According to the FSA Store (, an online shop that sells only FSA-eligible items, most parents still have between $50 and $200 of FSA money to spend (or lose) before year’s end. But don’t panic: You don’t have to schedule a New Year’s Eve dental cleaning to bring that balance to zero. We spoke with Kim Buckey, VP of client services at DirectPath, an employee engagement, health care transparency, and compliance firm for Fortune 1000 employers, to get some smart suggestions of FSA-eligible items. Of course, plans can vary, so ask yours. But by and large, the stuff on this list generally gets the green light:

  • Eyeglasses. Now’s the time to splurge on cool frames, or pick up an extra pair for your child who always loses his.
  • Bandages. The next time your child gets a boo-boo, make her feel better with a kiss and the words “Mommy saved the equivalent of our tax bracket on this bandage.” Or maybe just skip that second part.
  • Travel for medical care. Did you regularly trek to the nearest city so a family member could see a certain physician? The mileage is reimbursable; ask your plan for the going rate.
  • Contact lenses and related supplies. Saline solution, rinses, and even lens holders all count.
  • Pregnancy and ovulation test kits. Ready to expand your family in the new year? Stock up.
  • Diabetes test kits and materials.
  • Orthodontia—even partial payments can be deducted.
  • Batteries for medical equipment such as hearing aids and nebulizers.
  • Orthopedic inserts for shoes, even non-prescription ones.
  • Heating pads.
  • Lead paint removal. This is only allowable if your child has or has had lead poisoning. The repainting is not covered.

For more suggestions, visit and browse around. As always, check with your plan’s specific guidelines for eligible purchases.


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Author: Deborah Skolnik, a graduate of Cornell University, lives in Westchester with her husband and two daughters, and enjoys writing, cooking, and gardening. See More

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