You know what's not fun about growing up? That moment when your employer's FSA deadline is creeping up on you and you're trying to come up with next year's estimate of how much to set aside as the clock races toward midnight and you and your partner try not to turn the already stomach-churning event into a "discussion" of finances in general, your relationship's communication hiccups, and life at large.
No? Just me?
No matter how you deal with it in your life, the end of the year brings up some have-to-handle-it tasks regarding your health care, especially those flexible spending accounts that expire the second the ball drops on New Year's Eve.
This weekend, while we can't make this aspect of "adulting" any more exciting, we're going to at least take the time-crunch stress out of our FSA planning for next year as we review this year's expenses and make arrangements to use up any remaining funds.
Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you've always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.
This Weekend's Assignment:
Assess your end-of-year healthcare spending.
Here's how we're going to do it:
1. See how much money you have left in your FSA account
You'll need this figure for each of the next steps. Check with your employer to see what they've set up in terms of either carry over or a grace period.
2. Make appointments for the rest of the year
Once you know how much you have left, consider any specialist appointments you haven't had this year so you can use the money to take care of your health. For instance, is it time for another eye checkup, updated glasses or contacts, or a skin check at the dermatologist? What about lab work you've been putting off since your physical two months ago? Make a list of appointments you need to make before the end of the year and a note on your to-dos to make those calls first thing on Monday.
3. Purchase eligible items
Once you've calculated how much you'll need to spend on co-pays, deductible payments (if relevant), and other specialist fees, if you still have money left over, you can use it on qualifying expenses. This FSA Store site is a good starting place to see what items are eligible. It's a great time to stock up on vitamins, sunscreen, and even specialty bigger ticket items like baby monitors or a nebulizer.
4. Review your spending and assess for next year
The amount of money you had left over (or didn't, as the case may be) is a good clue for what you should be saving for next year. Have the discussion now, and leave a few days' buffer to mull it over before you turn in your number.
If this isn't a task that falls into the category of "boring adult responsibilities," nothing is. But oh how good it will feel to get it crossed off the list of to-dos you're not putting off any longer.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.