Spring break is normally associated with long days at the beach and lots of sun, but for working parents the reality is much different. For parents with school-aged children, spring break is a hectic time when childcare is up in the air. Instead of spending eight hours at school everyday, kids are suddenly free for a week or two.
In other words, childcare is suddenly a concern. But there's some good news for parents with school-aged kids — your flexible spending account (FSA) and dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) might be able to help. Here's some things to know about spring break health essentials for teens and kids.
Consider day camps for children under 13
If your child is normally at school while you're at work, then spring break throws a wrench into your usual routine. Instead of panicking and hiring a babysitter, consider a day camp instead. Day camps can include anything from sports camps to learning how to code. Regardless of what your kids are interested in, you'll be able to find something that interests them. Plus, zoos often offer both day and night camps for kids.
The best part is that you might be able to use your dependent care flexible spending account to pay for it. Depending on your tax bracket, that might mean you'll get a savings of 20% or more on spring break camp expenses because you do not have to pay taxes on DCFSA-eligible expenses.
There are a few rules for using DCFSA funds to pay for day camps. For example, kids under 13 years old are eligible and the parent (that's you) needs to be working full-time, in school full-time, or trying to find a job. In other words, stay-at-home parents can't use a DCFSA to pay for day camps.
Make doctors appointments for your teenager
Whether it's a physical your kid needs for high school spring sports, acne treatment from a dermatologist or the annual checkup that's been forgotten, spring break might be the perfect time to get your teenager up to date on their appointments.
Even though you might have to take time off of work to go with him or her, you don't have to worry about coordinating your work schedule with his or her school schedule. Instead, you can make appointments for the time that suits you best. Plus, you can use your FSA for copays or prescription costs.
Get eye exams before the summer rush
A lot of parents wait until summer to schedule doctors' appointments, but the truth is that spring break is actually easier. It's a shorter time period and every school district is on a different schedule, so doctors' offices won't be as busy. If your child is due for an eye exam, or has complained that his or her glasses no longer feel right, then spring break might be the perfect time to visit an optometrist.
You can use your FSA to pay for the visit, and you can use it to pay for prescription sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses may seem like a luxury but they're a necessity for teenagers who have a driver's license, especially during sunny summer months, which are right around the corner.
If you're stuck at the office while your kids are on spring break, don't fret. There are plenty of FSA- and DCFSA-eligible ways for you to create a healthy and happy spring break for your kids or teens, and help you save money along the way.
Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.