All About Those Flexible Spending Accounts

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(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

420x316-grad-lee Dee Lee
Dee Lee is a Certified Financial Planner who received a diploma in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Cyber Monday is the hot topic today. But I want to talk about tax planning. No one wants to hear about year-end tax planning but with a bit of effort you could save some real money here.

Let’s start with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) sometimes called cafeteria plans or section 125 plans. This is a benefit offered by many employers whereby you set aside part of your income pre-tax to these accounts to use for medical and childcare expenses.

Usually you are allowed to contribute up to $5,000 for childcare and $2,500 for medical expenses. Employer plans do vary.

If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account you must re-enroll each year and open enrollment for 2014 ends on December 9th.

Currently you will lose any money remaining in your account at the end of the plan year, but depending on your plan, you may have until March 15 of next year to spend it. Also, your employer can now allow you to use up to $500 left in the healthcare account to be used towards next year.

There are some things you can do right now to use some of the dollars in your account.

  • Schedule your annual checkup if it is not covered by your health insurance plan
  • Pre-pay the kid’s orthodontist for their braces
  • Get your teeth cleaned, get the kids to the dentist over school vacation as well
  • Pre-pay your dentist if you are having dental work such as implants or crowns
  • Get an eye exam, an extra pair of glasses or prescription sunglasses.
  • Weight loss programs – here you need a note from your doctor that you need to lose weight to treat a specific medical problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure, pre-pay the membership fees
  • Want to quit smoking – same route, get a doctor’s note and pre-pay the program fees
  • Stock up any over the counter (OTC) drugs you use normally such as Claritin and aspirin
  • Lasik eye surgery which is normally not covered by insurance
  • Keep track of your mileage to and from your health care provider
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