Things are getting festive here at FSAstore.com! Not only are the holidays in full swing, but for everyone who has a 12/31 deadline, there's just a few weeks left to save big on 100% guaranteed-eligible products.
Because this is the most wonderful time of the year, we thought we'd give everyone a friendly reminder ... in the most jolly way possible. Introducing the FSAstore.com Carolers...
Remember, if you have a 12/31 FSA deadline, shop FSAstore.com for thousands of guaranteed FSA-eligible health products!
2018 was a landmark year for our Learning Centers. We delivered 10 fresh pieces of content each week and welcomed a serious slate of top columnists -- many of whom don't just write about FSAs and HSAs, but who are also account holders themselves. Over the year they have shared their personal finance and healthcare stories and, in turn, helped us manage our health care spend more effectively.
Since we're at the outset of a new year, we decided to turn to the writers you've grown to trust, to see what their biggest FSA and HSA takeaways were from the year that was, and offer some thoughts on the year to come. So, here's some wisdom from the people who bring it to you each and every weekday in our Learning Centers.
Practice what you preach
Over the past few years, I've saved over $10,000 in my HSA by paying for out-of-pocket health expenses. I'm still eager to boost my long-term savings, but I'm shifting my focus to my Roth IRA and Solo 401(k). This means I'll be tapping into my HSA to pay for any major expenses — starting with a chipped filling repair in January. - Kate Dore
Learning isn't just for our readers…
My mistake was not opening an FSA sooner! Also, we waited until the last minute to schedule our annual checkups, so my goal is to do that before September of each year. - Sarah Li Cain
I've increased my DCFSA contributions because I am now able to anticipate my childcare expenses a lot better. I have a bunch of fixed expenses and knowing that I can save on taxes by lowering my taxable income, I see it as a win-win. I'm also going to get funds reimbursed a lot sooner than later because the end of the year is always hectic, so that's one less thing on my to-do list. - Sarah Li Cain
It's our first year as a family having an HSA, but one thing we made sure to do was fully fund the account. We have a 9-month-old baby, and it just made sense with all his doctor's appointments to that account as robust as possible. - Rachel Morgan Cautero
Any personal FSA spending suggestions?
Work out your healthcare budget in advance. Have a good idea of what you'll be spending and when you might be spending it throughout the year. Having this information going into the new year will help prevent the year-end scramble to spend remaining funds by the deadline.
As we begin a new year, it's a great time to reflect back on what you did right in 2018. Look over your spending and finances to learn what you did. Seeing what you did right and where you could improve will help you in the year to come. - Tabitha Jean Naylor
Create your FSA wish list and keep it updated throughout the year. This will help you avoid scrambling for last-minute items at the end of the year. Plus, you'll be able to spread out your FSA spending more evenly throughout the year. And set a goal of buying at least one FSA-eligible item with unbudgeted FSA funds each month. It's the perfect way to take care of yourself, and your family, throughout the entire year.- Taylor Milam
And for HSA spending?
If you set aside more to cover everyday, out-of-pocket medical expenses -- the spending you'd do anyway -- then you'll increase your tax benefits, and be able to make the most of your funds. By achieving this balance, saving more to spend on things you need, the more you'll save in the long term! - Zina Kumok
If you have an HSA or a HDHP to save costs on medical care, think carefully about your actions. It's great to have these tax-free ways to save for retirement. But being too protective of your HSA and cutting back on common-sense healthcare management can be counterproductive to all of your long-term planning. - Sarah Li Cain
Expert predictions for 2019 and beyond?
It might sound obvious, but I fully expect FSA adoption to keep rising, and that more people who have these accounts will learn to use them better. This means more understanding of grace period extensions, rollover amounts, and just a better grasp of how to best maximize these funds.
Which is good! While deadlines are still a major factor for millions of FSA users, people are slowly discovering that they have a lot more freedom when setting up their FSA to match their needs.
In short - we love preparing for the 12/31 deadline, but if more people understand their rollover or grace period options, the better they'll manage their accounts throughout the year. - Brad Bortone
I anticipate HSA funds may be expanded to cover fitness products and even gym memberships. One of the surprise inclusions in the massive HSA expansion bill that passed the House in late July was the expansion of qualified medical expenses to include "gym memberships and some fitness equipment."
While this bill never made it to the Senate, it does showcase the prevailing thinking of lawmakers and industry heads, so there's a chance it could be resurrected in a new bill at some point in 2019. These were some of the best ideas to come out of 2018 HSA reform, and we think they will resurface again in 2019! -- Sean Hanft
From all of us at FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com, best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year!
It may be Christmas Eve, but we can't forget about the other big holiday for FSA holders -- Flexmas! If you have a 12/31 FSA deadline, there's just one week left to use those flex spending dollars before they're gone faster than Santa's sleigh!
Need a little inspiration to start spending those tax-free funds? Let's see the latest from the FSAstore.com Carolers!
To make this even easier, stop by FSAstore.com for thousands of guaranteed FSA-eligible health products. If you need some ideas for spending down your tax-free funds, start here!
And from all of at FSAstore,com and HSAstore.com, best wishes for a happy, HEALTHY holiday!
One unfortunate reality of the holiday season is that we're all faced with extra expenses that we typically don't have during the rest of the year. You might need to buy presents for your children, purchase plane tickets for holiday spending, or dish out extra money to prepare big holiday meals.
All of these extra expenses can cause a lot of financial stress and leave people scrambling for a way to save some extra money. You might even find yourself wondering if you can use your FSA money for holiday shopping.
The answer is no. You can't use your FSA funds to cover the cost of your holiday shopping or on any additional expenses that the holidays might bring.
Why isn't holiday shopping an eligible expense?
Purchases need to be eligible medical expenses in order for you to be able to use your FSA funds. According to the IRS, an eligible medical expense is an item or treatment that diagnoses, prevents, treats, or cures a disease or condition. Your holiday shopping is money you spend for your own personal enjoyment or the enjoyment of others and doesn't meet the IRS requirements of an eligible expense.
What can it be spent on during the holiday season?
While you can't use your FSA funds to cover presents and other holiday expenses, you can still use it to help yourself recover from the holiday shopping season healthy and happy. Here are a few ways you can use your FSA funds to stay in top form throughout the most stressful time of the year.
Address your mental health
Long nights, cold days, and the stress of the holiday season can lead many people to struggle with their mental health. If you find yourself struggling, don't be afraid to seek help. You can use your FSA funds to cover the cost of an appointment with a psychologist, psychiatrist or a counselor (plan permitting - always check with your FSA administrator on exactly what your plan will allow).
Setting up an appointment will help you handle your mental health and leave you feeling better. With a clearer head and more optimistic perspective, you'll be better equipped to handle whatever the holiday season has to throw at you.
Some administrators require a letter of medical necessity to be obtained from your primary care physician, so check in with them before scheduling these appointments.
Staying active can help you relieve stress, keep you healthy and feeling energized this holiday season. If you just sit around on the couch all winter and tend to overeat, you'll likely find yourself lacking the energy you need to tackle the holidays. So if you need new equipment that helps you stay active pain-free like orthopedic shoe insoles, joint supports, or kinesiology tape, remember that these items are typically eligible for reimbursement.
Keep illness away
The flu and other illnesses like the common cold can knock you off your feet during the winter. So be proactive and minimize your chances of getting sick by setting up an appointment with your primary care physician. Now is a great time to get a clean bill of health. And while you're there - get your flu shot to minimize the chance of getting and spreading the flu this winter.
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.
Did I take a writer/content creator job at FSAstore.com without knowing what an "FSA" was? Hard yes. "But Kevin, why? You were just writing about cars and beers and the power of a good henley shirt a second ago!" I was and for the most part, it wasn't a great experience.
Then I ran into FSAstore.com which then led me to research what exactly "flex spending" was. When I asked my friends if they knew, about 9 out of 10 gave me a resounding, "Nope."
I'm about as quintessential of a millennial as there can be (I order grilled cheese from an app, I graduated during the recession and I'm extremely confused about my health benefits). But there was so much no-brainer, money-saving info here that… I really should have known about it. MORE people should.
So why don't we? For some good karma, I decided to try and help this brand reinvent itself, attract a younger audience and give it a better chance at doing its mission:
- Help people get healthy, for less. \ (•◡•) /.
- With a flexible spending account (FSA) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
After working in FSAstore.com's creative team for a year, here's what I think could be done better in this very niche industry to help both current and prospective users understand everything flex spending. (Hey! That's our new tagline!).
Observation #1: FSAs exist. And they can be pretty low-key. Make it not that.
The option to sign up for a flexible spending account seems so uneventful considering how much it says it can help people save on everyday health needs. It's BURIED inside the already overwhelming task of signing up for health benefits in general, a time where you really have so much to consider.
If FSAs can really have that much effect on people's finances (especially those who have ongoing issues like allergies, muscle disorders, etc.), we really should be showcasing and thinking about them with as much brain power as we would with dental, vision and even your 401(k).
MAKE THEM A BIGGER DEAL.
On the opposite end is that I was told around $400 million in FSA money gets forfeited every year. $400 million! I feel like that's enough to get bombarded by tax-season-esque commercials don't you think? Why are people forgetting that much of their hard-earned money and why aren't we surrounded by major messaging about this on all platforms.
(Also, plug: we have FSA deadline reminders.)
Observation #2: LOTS of people rely on the savings but few know how it all works. Be that change.
It's not a secret that healthcare in the U.S. is like being in a corn maze but it's haunted and it's also at night and you're also being chased by a dragon (made of bills). And navigating a flexible spending account is, a lot of times, kind of like that.
Did you know that if you buy an over-the-counter medicine like Advil or Benadryl with your FSA, you need a prescription? Did you also know that the IRS set that rule and EVERY flex spending rule out there? How about the fact that select sunscreen are FSA-eligible?
That's a lot of people's money and health on the line just with those questions alone. So why isn't info like this more accessible and approachable to more?
With so many platforms available, every company involved with them could do more to make info available and palatable (including us). I mean why aren't there more podcasts about this where someone in human terms says "acupressure mats are eligible!" (Hint: we have one now. You're welcome).
Maybe regular tweets that say, "Sunscreen that's broad-spectrum and SPF15+ is eligible." Simple, to the point, made for the platform. Done.
Observation #3: Thousands of FSA-eligible products, many different lifestyles. So spread the word, farther.
From what I've seen of FSA marketing, it's a whole lot of, "It's not just for Band-Aids! HaHaHAHA." Riveting! But seriously, there are thousands of FSA-eligible products out there from baby care products, pain relief essentials even vacation stuff. Now think about all the different types of people those could help.
A flexible spending account's audience is basically everyone. KT Tape, athletic braces and more are eligible. That's your fitness crowd. Breast pumps, prenatal vitamins and others are eligible. There you go new parents! Acupressure mats, relaxation masks, TENS units, are all eligible. There's your wellness group. And that's just scratching the surface! So go granular, because you can.
So, after a year working in the creative team at FSA Store, we hope we made things even a tiny bit easier for people to learn about another way they can save on their everyday health. Feel free to let us know what else we could be doing to make your flex spending life easier!
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.