Use It or Lose It: 5 Things Employees Can Still Do With FSA’s This Year

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As the year comes to a close, many people are decorating their homes for the holidays and stocking up their pantries for company. But others who have Flexible Spending Accounts — like many of your employees — are scheduling colonoscopies instead!

What gives?

Since the FSA has a “use it or lose it” clause, the funds must be used for health purposes by the end of the year (however most plans give an extension for 6 – 8 weeks into next year). So to take the full benefit of the funds set aside in the FSA, the funds must be spent soon.

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If you or your employees have funds left in the FSA, here are some ideas on how to spend them:

  • Get prescriptions for over the counter medicines (and fill them). Over the counter medication no longer qualify to be purchased with FSA dollars, but prescription medications are, so if applicable, obtain prescriptions from your doctor. For example, I recently saw my doctor for a sore knee which I take over the counter anti-inflammatory medication for. When I saw my doctor, I was able to get a prescription for a higher dose – I take fewer pills, and the medication is now FSA eligible.
  • Stock up. If you wear contacts, order a three month or six month supply. Order your prescriptions online for a three month supply, instead of a month at a time at the pharmacy.
  • Stop smoking. If you are a smoker, enroll in a smoking cessation program in December. December may not be the best month to quit, unless you live where I do – east of Salt Lake City, Utah. It is literally 10 degrees outside today and because of the chilly weather, I don’t see anyone outside taking a smoke break! If your plan allows you a grace period, then sign up in January or whenever you feel you’d have the best chance of a successful outcome.
  • Turn in your receipts. Pull all your receipts together and turn them in for reimbursement. As I found out with my employee business expenses, they don’t turn themselves in.
  • Get a check up. If you haven’t done annual check- ups with your physician or other health care professionals, do it now. See the chiropractor to de-stress before the holidays. Take care of what you may have been putting off even a colonoscopy!

This was originally published on the Financial Finesse blog for Workplace Financial Planning and Education.

Nancy Anderson is a financial planner with, the nation’s leading provider of unbiased financial education programs to corporations, credit unions and municipalities with over 400 clients across the country. She has 20 years of experience addressing a broad range of financial planning issue, including work in the financial services industry with positions at Washington Mutual Financial Services and New York Life. Contact her at


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