So your first step is to check with your benefits office to confirm your spending deadline, says Bart Turney, a vice president with ADP Strategic Advisory Services in Louisville, Kentucky.
If your workplace gives you until mid-March to incur FSA-eligible expenses and use this year's funds to pay for them, you have some breathing room.
Companies now also have the option of allowing employees to roll up to $500 in unspent FSA funds into the next benefit year.
However, both those choices are optional and at the employer's discretion. If your spending deadline is the end of December, start making doctor appointments and buying allowable medical items now.
Eligible FSA expenditures
The most common uses of FSA money are to pay insurance copays and exams that aren't covered under your insurance.
Vision exams are popular during this time of year. Most of us could use an extra pair of glasses or, for fun, prescription colored contact lenses. Don't forget about full dental checkups or even just teeth-cleaning appointments. Each of these expenditures could help you draw down your FSA.
Under many plans, FSA cash also can be used for alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or chiropractic sessions, that aren't typically covered by medical insurance.
It's also a good time to think about wellness exams and preventative procedures. "Anything you can do at the end of the year to help improve your overall health is a good use of account money," says Turney.
One easy wellness option is a flu shot, says Turney. Most pharmacies now offer these injections, so there's no need to make a special trip to your doctor's office.