Start the year right with this checklist of smart suggestions to make the most of your flexible spending account (FSA).
The most important part of having a dependent care or healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) is ensuring you use it effectively. And the best time to think about how you’ll use it is at the beginning of the year, when your changes have potential to make the greatest impact.
To help you do that, here are five considerations to get the most out of your FSA from the start:
Remember, for dependent care FSAs, the money must be in your account before you use it. Unlike the healthcare FSA, you won't see your full balance immediately. Money is deducted from each pay and added to your account. That means you'll need to wait until the money is in your account before you spend it. Now's a good time to figure out whether you'll reimburse yourself regularly after money is added to your account, or set a reminder for yourself to reimburse all your expenses before the reimbursement deadline next year.
Plan to spend down your funds. If you have a dependent care FSA, double check your dependent care needs this year against available eligible expenses. And if you have a healthcare FSA, look at your medical appointments, medicine cabinet, personal protective equipment supply, or browse other eligible expenses that your healthcare FSA can cover.
Finish cold and flu season strong(er). Healthcare FSAs cover a variety of ways to care for and help recover from those sniffles, sore throats and fevers, including: over-the-counter cold and flu medicine, throat drops, pain relievers, nasal strips, expectorants, and chest rub ointment.
Get help with those healthy resolutions. If you have a healthcare FSA, did you know that some eligible expenses can help you stay committed to goals in the new year, including for select smoking cessation programs and products, sleep study, mental health counseling and certain kinds of addiction treatment?
Here's to a new, more prepared you — and a happy new year!