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FSA Carryover: Spend it Down on These Staples

FSA Spending Tip

Did your employer’s benefit plan include a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Grace Period or Carryover option? If you don’t use your full balance last year, you may have extra money to spend. That makes now a great time to check your stock of health and wellness staples.

Relief for Unused Funds

In a normal year, your employer may offer either a Carryover or Grace Period option for the unspent balance in your FSA account. If you have the Carryover feature, you can rollover a certain amount of your leftover funds to spend at any point during the following plan year. If you have the Grace Period option, you can use any or all of your unspent funds, but only during the first 2.5 months of the following plan year.

In 2021, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (also called the “second stimulus bill”) included many relief measures, from contribution changes to deadlines to use unspent funds. One provision was that employers could allow participants to rollover all 2021 unused amounts to 2022 for health and dependent care FSA accounts. Because this change had to be adopted by the employer, rather than being automatic, you need to check with your HR or benefits representative about your company’s status.

FSAs for 2024

Over the years, people enrolled in FSAs with the Carryover option have been able to carry over a certain amount of their unspent funds at the end of the plan year. Learn more about current contribution and Carryover limits here.

Stocking Up 

As a new year starts, it’s a great time to check your inventory of general health and wellness items. If you have unused funds to spend, consider stocking up on eligible OTC products that you’re running low on or have used up entirely. Here are some suggestions:

  • Check staples such as pain relievers, fever reducers, allergy medications, nasal sprays, antibiotic creams, antacids and digestive aids. Even if you seem to have enough, you may want to replace anything that is past the labeled expiration date. As we navigate through cold and flu season, make sure you have plenty of therapeutic remedies on hand.
  • Check your first aid kit to see if things like gauze, bandages, and antiseptic are running low or past their expiration date. It pays to be prepared when cuts, bruises, scrapes, and other household injuries happen!
  • If you use menstrual care products, consider stocking up with your FSA funds. Fortunately, they don’t expire, so buying them in bulk is a great way to use up funds.
  • Sunscreen is needed even in winter if you are out in the sun a lot. So is contact lens solution, whether you’re out in the sun or not! Both can be stocked up using leftover FSA funds.
  • Did you know that you can use your FSA to buy personal protective equipment like masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes? Stocking up can be a good use of leftover funds!

FSAs are a great way to save money on health and personal care products and services. If you had a leftover balance in your FSA account last year and have a Carryover or Grace Period, think about the best ways to spend it down. After meeting your short-term needs, stock up on things you are likely to use all year long. Put that money to work helping you and your dependents feel and live better.

If you like this FSA spending tip (or want more info on HSAs, HRAs, COBRA, and Benefits Debit Cards), subscribe to my blog.

The Adventures of Captain Contributor is an employee education and engagement program developed by DataPath, Inc.