This past New Year’s Eve was really laid back for me. We didn’t venture out, after being out of town until that evening. Had a good mini-trip, but the real fun occurred upon getting back in town.
You see, I did not use up my entire FSA allocation. Because of time constraints and really some procrastination as well, I did not make a few appointments I needed to make. The money allocation was only slightly excessive, but it just didn’t get used. The good news is that I didn’t desperately need medical care for anything, which is nice. The flip side is that it left me with about $300 to spend on health care items – or else I would lose the money.
Lesson to Everyone: Make and follow a plan to use up all of your flexible health pre-tax dollars, and get the process started early in the year.
To use up the money at the 11th hour, I went to a local Walgreens drugstore and bought as many relevant OTC items I could purchase. Here’s a sampling of my last minute finds:
- Contact lens solution – 5 bottles
- Contact lens cleaner
- Ibuprofen bottle
- First aid kit
- Burn gel
- Antiseptic cleaner
- Gel foot soles
- Cough drops
- Children’s cough medicine
- Tooth pain gel
- Antibiotic ointment
You name it, I was buying it! It was sort of like a shopping spree, where you have a matter of 3 hours to buy things or the money’s gone. The difference is that money was already mine:)
As odd as it may seem, the reality is that most of the things there were things I needed. Well, maybe not the gel soles, and not the tooth pain gel. But they couldn’t hurt to have:) Otherwise, the other things are items that I could probably use anyway. Besides, I thought it made sense to stock up since many OTC products may not be eligible for pre-tax savings in 2011 (but hey, at least we have the 2011 payroll tax holiday to even it out!). That’s right – FSA eligible expenses are different in 2011. In the end, all was not lost, and it ended up being kind of fun.
A funny moment was when my daughter, getting caught up in the buying frenzy, asked if a singing stuffed animal counted as a medical purchase because laughter is good for the heart. I LOVED THAT! I have to say, since it was on sale for like $8 I bought it for her.
Interestingly, there were many others there who were in the same boat when it came to using up their funds. I had two people approach me asking if I was doing the same thing they were and trying to use up funds. It was like a bonding experience, as we ran into each other in the various aisles, trash talking with each other about how many more band-aids each other would purchase. One guy said that he and his wife had over $1,000 to spend! He was apparently calling family and friends asking if they needed anything at all. Anything.
I guess this is New Year’s excitement as you get older, eh?
We’ll have things planned out better this year, though I have to say, it all worked out pretty well in the end.
What about you?
Do you successfully plan out your pre-tax health care expenses (as best as possible, of course), or do you find yourself catching up at year end?