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I don’t consider myself a wait-until-the-last-minute kind of person. But over the weekend, I found myself scouring the depths of the internet to read up on all of the FSA-eligible items I could buy before the few hundred bucks in my FSA account expire later this month.
Not all FSA deadlines are the same, however. Though most FSA deadlines fall at the end of the calendar year on Dec. 31, there are FSA extensions to know about, according to the experts at the FSA Store.
Oftentimes there’s a grace period for Dec. 31 plans that gives you until March 15 to spend those remaining bucks in your FSA on qualifying purchases. You might even have a run-out period until March 31. That’s the deadline for filing claims for medical costs you had during the previous year.
If you’re still confused, the FSA Store has a helpful explainer on the difference between an FSA grace period and an FSA run-out period.
But if you’ve already checked your plan, know your deadlines and are eager to learn more about the qualified expenses and approved items you can use before your money is gone, there are plenty of options.
What are the FSA-qualified items and expenses for 2020?
When I realized I could use my remaining FSA balance to stock up on new glasses for the year, I immediately began researching the most affordable places to buy glasses online for cheap, and eventually landed on my go-to for affordable eyewear: EyeBuyDirect.
In fact, EyeBuyDirect has a guide to what kinds of glasses you can buy with your FSA and HSA accounts, including prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, contact lenses (not colored), eyeglass repair kits, reading glasses and even eye exams and eye surgery. Unfortunately, non-prescription glasses and sunglasses aren’t covered by your FSA.
I ended up snagging both prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses, including a pair of everyday tortoiseshell frames with a hint of blue for spring and round “champagne” prescription sunglasses that were labeled “Tan’s Pick,” as part of a curated collection by Tan France and the eyewear company.
If you’ve permanently ditched your glasses for contacts, there are affordable places to buy contacts online that are covered by your FSA too, like 1-800-Contacts, Discount Contact Lenses, and even Warby Parker’s new contact lens brand, Scout.
Everything you need to know about the joy trigger that is the FSA Store:
If you’re in the minority of people who don’t need glasses or contacts, one of the easiest (and perhaps most fun) ways to use up your remaining FSA bucks is to browse the FSA Store’s website.
Most everything in the FSA Store is deemed eligible for purchase without a prescription. But keep in mind that not all FSAs are the same, so check your plan for details.
Still, you can easily see which items can be purchased with an FSA card by finding the red checkmark below the item’s details and the “Add To Cart” button.
Some of the items in the FSA store include Supergoop’s top-rated Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 with sunflower extract, a ready-to-use first-aid kit, and even condoms. I was surprised to see brands like Supergoop, Neutrogena and Avéne skin care among more expected brands like Band-Aid and Icy Hot.
When I discovered the joy that is the FSA Store and the abundance of brands considered health care eligible, I stocked up on products I wouldn’t normally splurge on, like La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk. In fact, this sunscreen is consistently labeled the best sunscreen of the year by Consumer Reports for its UVA and UVB protection, SPF, variation from SPF, cost and overall performance. It normally retails for $38 a bottle, so I eagerly snatched up a bottle when I spotted it in the FSA Store.
I also splurged on non-essentials, like a foot roller because, according to my boyfriend, “Why not? They feel really good!” Who can argue with logic like that?
I found myself considering expensive FSA items simply because I could, like an LED pain relief eye mask, a headache band, and a hand-held steam inhaler for my allergies. I even spotted this light therapy panel device for acne that piqued my interest for longer than I care to admit.
Still, perhaps the best way to use up remaining FSA dollars are on the bundles found in the FSA Store. The options include a foot care bundle, an eye care bundle, a sunscreen bundle, and a “travel essentials” bundle. These packs might be the best way to get the most for your money.
Again, be sure to check your plan for details on when your FSA expires and what items your plan considers FSA eligible. Because if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, and nobody likes losing money.