It's America Saves Week! This important week highlights how you can save and manage your finances in the best way possible. The motto of this week is best summarized as "Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically."
As far as the latter goes, your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can play a huge role!
Check out these 5 Steps to Savings with Your FSA:
1. Sign up for an FSA/Maximize your existing FSA.
If you already have an FSA, that's great! You're saving on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses every time you use your FSA - this includes medical services not covered by your regular insurance, dental and eye care, and thousands of everyday healthcare products.
If you're thinking about enrolling in an FSA, you're taking a great step toward savings, as well. Research a bit about FSAs to learn more about what these plans can offer. Ask your HR representative or employer about FSAs, and what your specific plan would cover (how much you're allowed to set aside each year, which expenses will get reimbursed, etc.)
2. Think about Your Healthcare Needs for the Year. Throughout the year, you'll visit the dentist, and likely schedule an annual eye exam or a physical. You can you use your FSA for co-pays and deductibles for these visits, instead of paying for these expenses on an out-of-pocket basis.
3. Familiarize yourself with what exactly is covered. If you want a broader overlook of what expenses (products and medical services) are covered by Flex Spending Accounts, head on over to our FSA Eligibility List. The list will also tell you about services and items that are NOT generally covered by FSAs.
It's always good to check in with your FSA administrator if you have specific questions, or to read over your Summary Plan Description which has all the information regarding your plan.
4. Shop for Products. Whether you're dealing with a seasonal cold, have sore muscles from exercise, or traveling somewhere, your FSA can cover a wide range of products for various situations.
Did you know you can shop for hot/cold therapy packs, or baby care supplies like breast pumps, or even sunscreen with your pre-tax Flexible Spending Account? Not only do you save money by using your FSA, but you're also able to buy these items and effectively save up to 40% at FSA Store because you're using your account!
5. Regularly check your account. Just like you would stay on top of your checking account and savings account, you should also keep track of your FSA (remaining balance, submitting claims for reimbursement).
If you know you have some money left over close to your plan-year deadline, then you'll be able to still use that by using it before the year expires.
You can also set up a monthly planning sheet and schedule your medical appointments, or shop for everyday products like contact lenses and other items you need to refill on a monthly basis.
Because FSAs are "Use-it-or-Lose-it" accounts, any money that's left at the end of the year gets forfeited (unless your plan has an extension, but even that extension has an expiration date). This is your hard-earned money, so you don't want to risk losing what you set aside.