This year, for the first time, I set up a Flexible Spending Account for my medical expenses. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to play with, so I took a general look at my expenses from last year and just picked a number. I knew it would be low, but decided that a low number was better than way overestimating.
What I didn’t realize was just how low that number was going to be.
I’m going to be out of money in my FSA by the middle of the year. Possibly by the end of May, even.
What happened? Well, it’s not that I’ve been overly sick. Some of it is stocking up. The OTC allergy meds I take were on crazy sale,and won’t expire soon, so I bought a few boxes. I also discovered that my FSA will cover the expensive anti-aging/acne gel I use on my face. Awesome! And some of it was just poor estimating. I didn’t think about what I spend in certain areas.
But really, that’s okay. I still got the benefit of some pre-tax spending and I now have a better idea of what is and what isn’t covered. I’ve got all my receipts in a folder right now, so I’m going to be sure to continue that folder so I know what I really spend over the course of the year. In YNAB, I have been using a budget category called FSA Expenses, and I may continue using that category even after the FSA money has run out.
So, lesson learned. I’m definitely glad I tried the FSA and I was pleased at just how easy it was to use. My previous experiences with FSAs have involved debit cards for FSA expenses, whereas with this plan, they automatically reimburse doctors appointments and prescriptions (often before I get the bill from the doc), but I have to fax or mail in the paperwork for OTC stuff. I know a lot of people struggle with that, because it means paying up front and getting reimbursed, but the reimbursements are fast enough that if I put it on my credit card, I get the money deposited into my bank account before the credit card payment is due anyway.
Here’s looking forward to next year’s FSA! (Though I hear they’re getting phased out as part of the new healthcare bill. Better get my savings in while I still can!)