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We blinked, and suddenly it’s almost 2023. The new year brings about exciting prospects, but unfortunately it also means saying goodbye to any money we have stashed in our Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). Through company healthcare plans, millions of workers in the U.S. are able to put aside income into an FSA that is not taxed and can only be used on certain out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The only catch is that these funds expire at the end of the year, according to Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse and medical writer for Assisted Living.
“So if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it—literally,” she tells Best Life.
But if you still have money in your FSA, don’t panic. There are tons of ways you can spend it all, even with two weeks left in the year. And you don’t have to go through crazy lengths to do so either: Your local drugstore offers plenty of possibilities for you to spend any remaining FSA funds. Read on for five different recommendations on using those last saved dollars at Walgreens and CVS.
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If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, do it before the end of the year. Most FSA plans cover flu shots, according to Taylor Remington, a therapist and founder of Impact Recovery Center.
“You can get a flu shot at both Walgreens and CVS, and use your FSA to pay for it,” she says. Most insurance plans do cover the shot, but if not, getting the vaccine at either drugstore could cost up to $95.
Your purchases don’t have to be explicitly medical. In fact, future travel plans could also benefit from your remaining FSA funds, says Joanna Briggs, a registered nurse working as a medical consultant at Jugo Feed.
“Have a vacation coming up? A unique way to use FSA funds is on travel items,” Briggs says. “Eligible items include travel pillows, motion-sickness wristbands, and even sunscreen.”
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This might be the perfect time to refresh your medicine cabinet. According to Mitchell, stocking up on useful over-the-counter (OTC) medications is a “great way to use up” your remaining FSA money. “There are OTC meds you need all year round, so I’d take advantage of the opportunity to clear your balance,” she says.
Remington notes that “both Walgreens and CVS carry a wide variety of over-the-counter medicines, such as pain relievers, antacids, cough suppressants, and cold remedies” that can all be purchased with an FSA.
But Shauna Markes-Wilson, a Walgreens pharmacist and area director of pharmacy and retail operations for Georgia and North Florida, advises shoppers to look for winter weather necessities like cough and cold medicine in particular.
“This year’s cold and flu season is estimated to be the worst in several years, so prepare yourself with Walgreens brand medications that will help you through coughs, congestion, sore throat and fever,” she says. “Take time to look at the medicine you already have, clear out those past their expiration dates, and replace them.”
For the first time, hearing aids are now available at your local drugstore. After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved OTC hearing aids earlier this year, both Walgreens and CVS started selling them to customers without a prescription in mid-October.
And that’s not the only good news. “They could be an eligible FSA expense,” Markes-Wilson says.
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Do you have a first aid kit handy at home? If not, now is the time to get one. “Every household should have a first aid kit on hand with a variety of basic medical supplies,” Briggs explains. “Spend your last-minute FSA dollars on one to ensure you are prepared for the coming year.”
You can either buy an entire kit from your local drugstore or get the necessary supplies separately to build out your own. “First aid supplies such as bandages, gauze, and antibiotic ointment can be purchased with your FSA at Walgreens and CVS,” Remington says.