FSA for the win

It was the beginning of December. I was stoked to start celebrating the holidays. I was so excited for the listening to 24/7 Christmas music, magical lights, parties, movies, and the extra ten pounds from all the cookies, fudge, and candy that was coming my way from neighbors, friends, and colleagues. Suddenly, a thought popped into my head and I felt a great sense of doom- we never spent all of our Flexible Spend Account money for the year. I rushed to the computer to look up what was left – $308. Whoa. FSA is a use it or lose it scenario. I routinely go out of my way to save $5 on toothpaste, shampoo, diapers or groceries, I am certainly not wasting $308 dollars of my hard earned, tax free cash! On one hand, woo hoo for us. Medical expense certainly came in far under budget for 2016. After all, we only put $500 in the account for our family of four for the entire year. But, now what? I wasn’t going to spend $308 in over the counter medications.  And, the list has shrunk over the years on what is eligible. And then I had an ‘Aha’ moment. What if we both bought glasses? Mine were super old. We are talking ten years plus and my husband was wearing $10 readers from the pharmacy. We are both super busy so trying to juggle appointments to get glasses was a long shot and made me nervous. I remembered there was an America’s Best Eyeglass store over in our outdoor mall area less than a mile from our house. I stopped in and the prices were great. You could get two standard pairs for $59,95. Price shopping done- convenience and timing meant no shopping around this time since we were on a crunch.

Unfortunately, standard for me would mean my lenses were 5 inches thick so I had to spend a bit more and get one pair only to upgrade, but still, it would be far under the money I needed to spend. I am always trying to save money, so trying to spend it felt hilariously awkward and made me chuckle to and about myself quite a bit. I thought, well, I guess we both can get glasses then. It made me 100% sure I made the right choice at insurance election time not to double our weekly premium costs and go to the high vision plan. If you can get quality glasses rack rate this cheap, there is no sense ‘upgrading’ your insurance. The increased premiums would not make up for the savings on the glasses or contacts obviously, at least in our case at either of our employer’s prices. We made an appointment for the last week of December. In the end, I got one pair of ultra thin lenses for my very high prescription and my husband got two pairs of standard, one with tinting, which was only another $50. We spent $314. I paid with my FSA of $308 and a whole $6 in cash.

To top it all off, we got two free tickets to Monster Jam for each of us purchasing glasses. Can you say score? I figured out a productive and needed way to spent the cash AND got Free things….we all know Free is my favorite word. So, FSA for the win of the holiday season. My husband and I don’t usually do much in the way of gifts for each other, so I joked how awesome my Christmas gift to him was this year- after all it was the money that came from my paycheck since I own the medical insurance for the family through my full time gig…so Merry Christmas one all! For the holiday, I give you the gift of sight!! Oh, and savings. My cool find is below. They have stained glass on the sides. I hate wearing glasses. I only wear them behind the closed doors of my home, but maybe with this cool new version, I will feel A-OK sharing a photo of how nice they look once they are ready!!

Two Cent Tip: All insurance premiums are not created equal, Always, always, always look at the total annual cost of your premiums, your deductible, and all the specifics of your vision, dental, and medical plans. Consider your specific health and situation for your family. Spending just a few extra minutes evaluating and doing the math on if a ‘higher’ coverage plan is worth it can seriously save a ton of hard earned cash. Also, if you have two working spouses, evaluate all the combinations. For instance your dental and your partner’s health or you and the kids on one plan and your partner on his/her own work plan. It may surprise you how much you can save that way as well!

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