One of the great things about an HSA is that the funds never expire, so you aren't forced to spend them before a certain date. If you don't spend your HSA money, it will roll over and remain available for you to use at a later date - there are no penalties and you'll never lose your funds. Unfortunately, many people don't realize this and rush to spend their funds on things they don't really need.
So if you want to get smart about spending your HSA funds, take some time to think about the things that you already want or need instead of making extra doctors' appointments or unnecessary purchases. There are more qualified expenses than most people are aware of, and it's likely you can use your HSA funds for things you were already planning to spend your money on.
Just keep in mind that you need to spend your money on qualified expenses only. If you choose to spend your HSA funds on an unqualified expense, you could be charged a 20% penalty if you're audited, and you may have to pay income tax, as well. That means if you spend $500 on an unqualified expense, you'll be charged an additional $100 penalty and if you fall into the 15% income tax bracket, another $75 in taxes.
Check out a few "off-the-cuff" eligible expenses, and get smart about your HSA spending.
If you're going on vacation - or even a short road trip - it's always a good idea to load up the suitcase or car with a few essentials and emergency items. Use your HSA funds to pick up a travel sized first aid kit, sunscreen, acupressure wristbands to stop nausea, and an orthopedic neck pillow to make the trip more comfortable.
Medical travel expenses
If you need to travel frequently to medical appointments, the cost of getting there can add up fast. But did you know that your HSA can actually be used to cover some of these expenses? Fuel, public transportation costs, tolls, and parking fees related to qualified medical care are all considered eligible expenses.
But if you're planning to reimburse yourself for these expenses, make sure you keep documentation that shows you were traveling for medical purposes - like a bill that has the date of the procedure on it.
If you're planning on having a baby, your HSA can help you cover some of the associated expenses. Eligible items include pregnancy tests, ovulation predictors, and fertility kits. And if you have a newborn already, you can use your HSA to pay for items like baby breathing monitors, breastfeeding supplies, and thermometers.
Eye care isn't cheap, so many people skip out on purchasing more than the bare minimum when it comes to their eyewear. Are you constantly leaving your glasses at home only to realize you need them when you get to the office? Use your HSA funds to get a backup pair. You can even use the money to purchase prescription sunglasses and non-prescription reading glasses.
Acupuncture is a popular form of pain relief, but many people shy away from trying it because of the out-of-pocket cost. But acupuncture is actually an HSA eligible expense, provided it's doctor-recommended. So take advantage of its many benefits and worry less about the bill.
Whether you're spending steadily or saving for something, Wage Up! is where we highlight the latest services available to buy with your HSA, every Monday on the HSA Learning Center. And for everything else about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.