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How NOT to Lose Your FSA Money

by Guest Poster

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The following is a guest post from Tiá Jones, MBA.

I think it’s funny that I can write this blog post for You Have More Than You Think while my poor blog, The Hostess Chick, is waiting to be updated. However, I felt this may be helpful for people like me (the readers who aren’t financially savvy and are just trying to get it together).

A few months ago, Shawanda wrote an article about Flexible Spending Accounts. She was a little upset, because it didn’t garner much traffic, but FSAs are a little confusing.

How do you know what amount to choose?

What if you over estimate what you need?

What do you mean I don’t get my money back if I don’t use it?

Many people hate having money taken from their check. I like it because it reduces my taxable income. If you’re not a good saver, it helps you budget for your health.

I’m usually good with my FSA. I’ve had one since 2004, but 2009 was different.

Last week, I was kicking myself. I budgeted $400 for the second half of 2009, and I hadn’t turned in a single reimbursement claim. My company had a merger so benefits were only for July through December.

My good intentions were to buy glasses for my son and me, then to submit receipts for copays and prescriptions.

I didn’t get our glasses until January 18th, and the only receipt I could find was for some children’s cold medicine valued at $3.99. Devastated, I asked Shawanda if it was unethical for me to try to scrounge up some cash receipts from family and friends so that I could recoup some of the $400 in losses that I’d be incurring.

She advised me to check with my benefits company, because most plans let you incur expenses through March. Well guess what, she was right. I was able to claim our $150 in eyewear against 2009.

She also suggested that I get off my bum and contact my doctor’s office. I haven’t called them yet, but I did check out Walgreens.com. My son has asthma, and I get all of his prescriptions from there.

I found out you can register on their site and get your prescription records for up to 18 months back. The only pain with Walgreens.com is that you have to create separate accounts for each person, but hey….in two days I’ll have a reimbursement check from my FSA.

Don’t forget to enter the $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway sponsored by Buxr.com.

Tiá is President of New Legacy Services, LLC, a small business coaching and consulting firm.  Her clients include YouHaveMoreThanYouThink.org and SistersSpace.com.  When she is not trying to change the world through entrepreneurship, she blogs about event planning and all things pretty on TheHostessChick.com.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

carla February 5, 2010 at 10:25 PM

Over the years, I have always maxed my FSA and use ever penny, ever year. I think there was one year that I didn't use the remaining $12.00. All in all, I love having that income taken out tax free to use for medical and dental expenses that I KNOW will need to spend money on anyway!

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Shawanda February 6, 2010 at 8:06 PM

This post reminded me to submit a receipt to our FSA administrator. I've heard of people having their accounts frozen when they failed to produce the requested documentation.

I have a coworker who refuses to participate in the FSA. I tell her how she can save all types of taxes. The FSA would probably save her 40%. People who take medications for chronic conditions should put in enough to at least cover those costs. Even if you do end up not using a few dollars of your FSA, you can still have a net gain because of all it saved you before.

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