Flex-Ed: How to regroup after blowing your 2019 FSA spending plan

Basics

So 2019 is barely a month old, and you already blew your FSA spending resolution for the year. Don't stress - you're hardly alone. It happens to the best of us no matter how carefully we plan to keep things strictly in a budget. Whether you had unexpected medical expenses come up or you just got a little careless, don't panic. It's not too late to reevaluate your resolution and have success for the rest of the year.

I might not be a financial professional, but here are a few things I did last year to get my FSA budgeting back on track, so there weren't any surprises by the end of the plan year.

Evaluate what you spent your money on

Go back and look at what you spent your money on. In some cases going over your budget isn't nearly as bad as it appears to be. Look at why you made the purchases you did - maybe you bought a new pair of glasses that you hadn't anticipated purchasing until later in the year because you needed them sooner than you thought you would.

Don't beat yourself up over spending money on things that you really needed. Surprise expenses can come up all the time when it comes to healthcare. Understanding what you already spent your money on will help you focus on what's to come.

Be real about your needs for the rest of the year

Now that you know exactly what you bought, you can look ahead and plan for what's to come. Start by making a list of everything you need and want to spend your funds on in the coming year. Then, put them in order of priority.

Make a note of the absolute necessities that you can't go without and set them apart from the other items that aren't as important. If you can, you should also try to make a note of when you might need to make these purchases.

[Cliche warning!] Plan ahead

Once you have a clear picture of what you need for the rest of the year, you can move ahead to redoing your budget. You'll have less money to work with than you initially thought you would, but it's not the end of the world. Put the absolute essentials in place and gradually add in the other items if they fit.

Treat your health like a consumer

Don't be afraid to shop around for products and services to see if you can find a better price on what you need. If you typically buy your prescriptions and other health supplies at the same store, find out if they have a rewards program available.

You can earn discounts, money back, and coupons for items you frequently buy. It might not feel like a lot of money at the time, but saving a little here and there can add up to big savings over time.

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New to FSAs? Need a refresher course in all things flex spending? Our weekly Flex-Ed column gives you a weekly dose of FSA Living 101, offering tips for making the most of your tax-free funds. Look for it every Thursday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center.

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