A Word on Flexible Spending Accounts

I blew it last year. I left nearly $500 languishing in my flexible spending account (FSA) unused. My hard-earned money was then swept into some mysterious corporate account where I would never see or touch it again. It doesn't seem right. (That bummer of a rule seems likely to change. If Congress agrees, untapped funds in FSAs may eventually roll over to the next year. Let's hope so).

For now, if you're struggling to find ways to spend the remainder of your account, here are some ideas:

* You can now use these accounts for over-the-counter medications (This is one advantage you have this year that I didn't have last). So load up on Advil and Theraflu. You'll probably need them at some point this winter.

* Drugstore.com has set up a special FSA store to give customers ideas for spending out their accounts.

* Buy some more contacts or a new pair of prescription glasses.

* Squeeze in an extra teeth cleaning before the end of the year. Better yet, is there any expensive dental work you have been putting off?

I don't have any extra money to use up this year. Last year I learned my lesson and only put in an amount I was sure I'd spend. Little did I know I'd face about $2,500 in dental bills at the end of this year. Much of it won't be covered by insurance, but could have been funded by an FSA. If only I could have rolled over the $500 from last year's account, that dental work would hurt a lot less.

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