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Next level strategies to make the most of your HSA

Now that you understand how an HSA can help you, how about some strategies to really max out its value.

You can reimburse yourself at any time for past expenditures.

Many financial experts these days are encouraging people to avoid spending the money in their HSA so it can build up and cover bigger expenses in the future. So, let's say you go to the doctor and are charged $100. You can pay that from your regular account, but then even 10 years later you could go back and reimburse yourself from your HSA as long as you've saved your receipt.

In other words, avoid spending the money if you can, but if something happens, you can always go back and change your mind. However, if you start off by spending the money, you can't reverse it (but make sure you save that receipt in case the IRS audits you).

You can use your HSA to pay for Medicare and long-term care insurance.

One of the biggest wildcards in retirement planning is knowing how much you'll need for healthcare as you grow older. Your HSA is the perfect shield against that, as you can use the money in there to pay for your healthcare in retirement, including certain insurance premiums like long term care.

Think of your HSA as a supplemental retirement savings plan.

Your dollars are limited, so make the most of your savings. When it comes to deciding where to save for the future, consider this:

  • Save enough in your workplace retirement account (401(k) or 403(b)) to capture any matching dollars that your company offers.
  • Then save up to the maximum allowed each year in your HSA, while trying to avoid spending those dollars unless you'd have to compromise other goals instead. Remember, you can always go back and reimburse yourself if you change your mind.
  • Once you've maxed out your HSA, if you still have dollars to save, then you may either want to save into a Roth IRA or continue putting money into your 401(k) or 403(b) up to the yearly maximum.