Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How to Use Up Leftover Money in Your Flexible Spending Account

By Christy Bieber - Dec 9, 2019 at 7:47AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

You need to act quickly if you don't want to lose your funds.

Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow you to set aside pre-tax funds to cover healthcare costs, and there are dependent-care FSAs, too. That untaxed money can help to defray the costs of medical care or caring for a dependent.

Unfortunately, money generally must be used by the end of the calendar year with most FSA plans. Your employer can offer you up to 2 1/2 extra months to use the money, or let you carry over as much as $500 into the following year. But plans can't offer both features, and not all offer either one. Even if they do, the time you have left to use your funds may still be running short. 

If you find that you have only a limited amount of time to use FSA funds, you definitely don't want to just let the money disappear. But what should you do to ensure you're using the dollars set aside for your care?

Doctor talking to patient.

Image source: Getty Images

How to use up your leftover FSA funds

Funds can be spent on medical and dental care, so the ideal way to use up the money in your account is to schedule any appointments you'll need soon.

You could, for example, get a dental cleaning or a fluoride treatment, or schedule a checkup and routine blood tests with your doctor to make sure you're in good shape. An eye exam is another good option, especially since FSA funds can be used to cover costs of glasses or contact lenses. 

FSAs can also pay for prescription drugs. If you take medications on a regular basis, see if your doctor can write a prescription for several months' worth of pills so you can pay your prescription co-pays with FSA money before time runs out.

If you don't need any medical care or prescription drugs, you can use your FSA funds to buy qualifying products to keep in your home. Some options include:

  • Bandages
  • First-aid products
  • Contact lens solution
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Diabetic supplies like insulin, glucose monitors, or test strips

The costs of weight-loss programs can also be covered if you're losing weight to treat a specific medical condition such as obesity, high blood pressure, or heart disease. 

Unfortunately, over-the-counter drugs can no longer be bought with FSA funds as a result of rule changes under Obamacare. But if you need medications such as aspirin or antacid to treat a specific condition and you can get your doctor to prescribe them, you can use the money to pay for it.

The IRS has a detailed list of what kinds of medical care and medical devices are eligible, so if you have any doubts about whether something you're considering purchasing is covered, check out the list. 

Plan today to use your FSA funds

If your funds must be spent by Dec. 31, or by March with the extended deadline, consider scheduling your appointments or shopping for qualifying products today so you don't lose the money you set aside for your halthcare. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/19/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.