How to Use Leftover Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Funds

Determine remaining amount. Check how much you have in your flexible spending account from the prior year. Do not add in amounts allocated to the current year.

Create spending plan: small budget. If you have less than $50 remaining in your flexible spending account, you may want to stock up on over-the-counter items and/or refill prescriptions. Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, cold, flu, or cough medications, allergy medications, bandages, ointments or creams, and eye care items may all be eligible. You can usually obtain a list of approved flexible spending account expenses from your human resource department or the FSA provider's website.

Create spending plan: medium budget. If you have up to several hundred dollars remaining in your flexible spending account, consider using the funds for the following items. Schedule doctor's, dentist's or specialist's appointments and use the funds to defray the co-pay. Order a new pair of eyeglasses (frames, lenses, or both) or prescription sunglasses. Some flexible spending account providers allow purchases of allergy-related items, such as air purifiers or special bedding. Check with your provider before making any purchases; you may need a doctor's approval in advance. You can also refill expensive prescriptions.

Create spending plan: large budget. If you have quite a few hundred dollars or thousands of dollars remaining, then consider big-ticket items. If the cost exceeds your remaining funds, you can always use your current year's flexible spending account to cover the rest (presuming you allocated enough to this year's account). In addition to the items suggested under the small and medium budgets, you may want to consider Lasik surgery, braces, retainers, getting new fillings, caps, or crowns for your teeth, having wisdom teeth removed, or getting fitted for bite guards (if you grind your teeth at night). If you are experiencing difficulties with family planning, certain treatments may be eligible. Check how much is covered by your insurance provider versus how much you will have pay out-of-pocket and through your flexible spending account.

Purchase items and/or services. Make all of your purchases prior to the deadline. Use your personal credit card or cash, not your flexible spending account card. If you use your FSA card, then the purchases will be deducted from your current year's (not prior year's) available balance.

Submit receipts for reimbursement. Save all of the receipts and submit them before the filing deadline. You can typically download a "pay me back" claim form from your flexible spending account provider's website. Fax the completed form and copies of your receipts per the provider's instructions. Keep the original copies for tax purposes, if you have to resubmit claims, etc.