As 2011 approaches its end, we find ourselves thinking about new goals, resolutions and all that we've overcome in this last year. We may allow certain things to fall through the cracks – like those Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars that we should have spent months ago. You've likely made the most of your employer's benefits, and with an FSA, you've been able to contribute pre-tax dollars to your health expenses. For families, this savings opportunity is even more rewarding because of higher contribution limits. (For related reading, see Healthcare FSAs Increase Your Personal Savings.)

TUTORIAL: Health Insurance

Still, if you've been fortunate enough to have spent 2011 in good health, you likely have significant funds leftover, and if you don't use them before the first day of 2012, you'll lose them. Given that you need to make the most of your money, what should you do?

As of January 2011, FSA funds no longer cover over-the-counter medications. However, you still have options for spending your money. Here are seven ideas to help you plan your leftover budget:

Bandages, First-Aid and OTC Non-Drugs
When was the last time you restocked your emergency supply kit or first-aid inventory? Especially if you have leftover FSA funds, now is the perfect time to restock your emergency supplies for 2012. To make sure that you are well-prepared for any emergency, keep what you need in your house, office and car. You never know when an accident will happen, and having these supplies will be helpful.

Prescription Refills
If you can, stock up for the next couple of months. Give your doctor and pharmacy a call to see if you're able to refill your medications. Even if you don't need them for a few more weeks or months, you'll be happy that you planned ahead.

Contact Lens Solution
Typically, contact lens solution has a shelf-life of several years, so if there's a brand that you like, you'll benefit from stocking up. When you shop, make sure to buy several sizes so that you have what you need for upcoming travel.

Your Annual Checkups
Don't let the year end without seeing your doctor. If you haven't had a physical, you still have time to squeeze one in, so give your medical provider a call. Ask the doctor to take care of all the necessary lab work so that you can get it all over with before the next year starts. If you need to see a medical specialist like a dermatologist or dietitian, try to get an appointment now.

Prescription Sunglasses
If you've shopped at the optometrist's office, you know that these can get pricey. If you can't think of another way to spend your FSA dollars, now might be the time to splurge on those prescription shades that you've been eying for so long. Come summertime, you'll thank yourself for the decision.

Extra Eye wear
When you break, misplace or scratch your glasses, you'll instantly need another pair. Instead of leaving yourself unprepared, make sure that you have a backup ready. With spare FSA dollars, now might be the perfect time to invest in a second set of frames and lenses. Even if no emergency arises, you'll still have two great pairs of glasses to switch between.

Physical Therapy Copays
Whether you have an injury or chronic pain, physical therapy is important. Beyond providing immediate treatment for your condition, therapists provide valuable insight to help you take better care of yourself. If you've worked with a physical therapist in the past, you may consider consulting one again to reassess your condition and learn new exercises that can help you moving forward.

The Bottom Line
Even if you're in crunch time to spend money, take a step back to reassess what you need. No matter how close we are to any deadline, it's never too late to plan. Sit down, relax and think about the best ways to spend your leftover FSA cash.

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: SPDR S&P Insurance

    Learn about the SPDR S&P Insurance exchange-traded fund, which follows the S&P Insurance Select Industry Index by investing in equities of U.S. insurers.
  2. Markets

    The 5 Biggest Canadian Insurance Companies

    Learn more about the insurance industry as a whole, how it functions in Canada, and the five largest Canada-based insurance companies.
  3. Entrepreneurship

    How Does ClassPass Work and Make Money?

    Find out how ClassPass makes money, how the company aims to help both businesses and consumers, and why it has been so successful.
  4. Retirement

    What Are the Risks to Your Retirement Security?

    One of the biggest risks to your retirement security is something you may take for granted: your health, and more specifically, health-care costs.
  5. Retirement

    Secrets to Finding the Right Nursing Home

    The wrong choice could mean inadequate – or even deadly – care.
  6. Investing

    Things Nursing Homes Are Not Allowed to Do

    What rights do a home's residents have? The same ones they they had before they entered the facility.
  7. Retirement

    How Much Medicaid and Medicare Cost Americans

    Medicaid & Medicare cost Americans plenty out of their paychecks. But how much, really? And what does that money buy?
  8. Insurance

    Healthcare Premiums Keep Rising, But Salaries Aren’t

    Learn how college and health insurance costs have skyrocketed while wages have stagnated, and how, given the necessity of these services, consumers are stuck.
  9. Taxes

    20 Medical Expenses You Didn't Know You Could Deduct

    To lower your tax bill, be sure not to miss out on these commonly overlooked medical tax deductions.
  10. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Net Collections

    A term used in medical accounting to describe the amount of money ...
  2. Corridor Deductible

    Expenses that are paid by the insured in excess of an insurance ...
  3. Insurance Consortium

    A group of businesses or organizations that join together to ...
  4. Mobile Health

    Mobile health is the practice of medicine using new mobile technologies.
  5. Blanket Medical Expense

    An insurance policy which provides coverage for all medical expenses ...
  6. Classified Insurance

    Insurance coverage provided to a policyholder that is considered ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What happens if my insurance claim falls below the deductible level?

    Though the ins and outs of health insurance are often confusing, the concept of the insurance deductible is relatively straightforward. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How is the deductible I paid for my insurance claim treated for tax purposes?

    The deductible you pay on your health insurance policy may be tax-deductible if you meet certain conditions. However, whether ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the main factors that impact share prices in the insurance sector?

    The main factors that impact share prices in the insurance sector are interest rates, earnings and actuarial risk. In the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why do insurance policies have deductibles?

    Insurance policies have deductibles for behavioral and financial reasons. Moral Hazards Deductibles mitigate the behavioral ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Which emerging markets are seeing the strongest growth in the insurance sector?

    The emerging market economies seeing the strongest growth for the insurance sector are primarily the main emerging market ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!