When it comes to health necessities, it always helps if you can save a few dollars—especially since health-related products can be very expensive. In addition to health insurance, you may also have something called an FSA—or Flexible Spending Account or Arrangement—through your employer, and this can be a great way to save some money.
If you’re wondering how to spend your remaining FSA money before the year ends, as it turns out, there are actually quite a few products that can aid in sleep that you can use your funds on. Read on to discover what an FSA is exactly and things to buy with FSA funds.
What is an FSA?
An FSA is a “handy-dandy account” permitted by the IRS that allows people to put in an amount that can be spent, tax-free and before taxes, on medical-related expenses, explains Caitlynn Eldridge, CPA, founder and owner of Eldridge CPA LLC. This year, adjusted for inflation, the maximum amount of money that can be put into an FSA is $3,050.
So, why do people have to use up the FSA money before the year ends? Simply put, “because it’s what the rules say,” notes Eldridge.
“Congress drafts the laws, and the IRS enforces them—and that’s just what was decided,” she says, adding that an FSA must reset yearly.
According to Eldridge, one caveat is a “grace period” that your employer may allow if it’s written into the plan. You would have two and a half months following the end of the year to use up what’s left.
How does an FSA work?
“An FSA is very akin to a bank account in which your employer takes money from your paycheck and puts money into,” explains Eldridge. “The employer fully funds it at the beginning of the year based on the amount you told them to put in during open enrollment, and then your paychecks are reduced equally throughout the year by the amount you elected to put in.”
She adds that you then can use a debit-like card to pull money out or you’ll submit receipts to the FSA administrator for reimbursement. “By putting money into an FSA, you are reducing your taxable income,” she says.
What to buy with FSA money to improve your sleep
There are a few general types of products that are FSA eligible and can be used to improve sleep. Traditionally, these products can include:
- Sleep aids prescribed by a doctor
- Antacids to help with nighttime heartburn
- Arthritis pain relievers
- Overnight underwear or pads to prevent accidents
- Healing ointment for itchy skin at night
- Night guard created by a dentist to help with grinding teeth
Eldridge also shares a few more categories to consider:
“A sleep study if prescribed by a doctor but not fully funded by insurance could be paid for with FSA funds, which could help determine if there’s a sleep problem,” says Eldridge.
CPAP machines and maintenance costs
Acupuncture and chiropractic visits
These types of holistic visits “could help improve sleep and would be covered by an FSA,” says Eldridge.
Therapy eye masks
These types of eye masks help provide heating and cooling relief to ease pain and tension and minimize puffiness.
Not sure if a sleep product is eligible?
“If you are ever unsure if something qualifies, speaking with a tax advisor or the plan administrator is recommended,” says Eldridge.
You can also always check the FSA Store to see if products you’d like to purchase are eligible.
The bottom on using an FSA: “Utilizing it is one of the best tax savings available, and often an easy decision for taxpayers,” says Eldridge. “If you’ll be spending money on co-pays, prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, eyeglasses, and dentist appointments—it’s worth utilizing an FSA.”
What can I purchase with an FSA?
Wondering what to buy with FSA money? Eldridge says typically, it’s anything that’s prescribed by a doctor or dentist along with everyday medical supplies and over-the-counter medicines. “Publication 502 [from the IRS] is a great resource for those who want more detail,” Eldridge says.
How do I spend my FSA money last minute?
Pondering how to spend your FSA money last minute? Eldridge recommends seeing if you can fill prescriptions ahead of time for the next quarter, scheduling a year-end physical and related tests, and prepaying for appointments at the chiropractor or acupuncturist if they offer a program. “Stocking up on over-the-counter medications that you could use in the next year is also a way to spend the FSA,” she says. “Even stocking up on sunscreen could help!”
Now you know all about FSAs—but what about HSAs? Find out whether you can use your HSA to buy a mattress.