Remember the old saying, "Don't count your chickens…?" Well the "old wives" who thought up that little pearl of wisdom were definitely not talking about coupons!

Consider the scenario: You've just completed checkout at the ol' mega super store, which shall remain nameless, but rhymes with SHMALMART. Your kids are squirming in your loaded-down cart because it's close to (past) snack/lunch/naptime. There's a line of impatient, scary shoppers behind you. A quick perusal of the receipt shows a long list of abbreviated gobbledy gook words and a long list of unmarked coupon discounts (you handed over a huge stack of coupons thanks to following the KCL matchups) but it all reveals very little. There's absolutely no point in trying to make sense of it until you get home. So you leave, not realizing you didn't get credit for two or three high-value coupons because the cashier flipped through them so quickly they stuck together, or maybe just missed one completely. It's happened to me on numerous occasions, especially with matching coupons for the same product. You may have handed over eight identical coupons for $3 off a particular razor, but only seven of them were scanned. You may have had two $2 off printable coupons that stuck together — as the ones that come off the printer have an uncanny ability to do. An anticipated $4 discount is now only $2 off.

Once the kids are fed/napped you have a quick moment to scan your receipt, and if you're lucky/astute enough, you're able to figure out that some coupons didn't scan and that you walked away paying more than you should have. Now you're in the tricky position of having to call the store to convince some faceless customer service representative that you were overcharged but that you have no actual, physical proof. Meanwhile, the cashier who "helped" you went on an indefinite vacation for the unforeseeable future. There's a chance someone will take pity on you and refund you the cash (which also involves a trip back to the store), but if I'm a betting woman, I'm guessing your money is long gone!

Having been burned on numerous occasions myself, I've figured out an extremely simple way to take care of this little coupon dilemma. Are you ready for it? Drumroll… count all of your coupons before you go through the line! That is to say, make sure you know the exact number of coupons you've handed over to the cashier to use before the transaction even begins. Then once the transaction is complete you can quickly count the number of discounts on your receipt versus the number of coupons you handed over. If there's a discrepancy you can catch it on the spot. And the proof is right there in the register. The cashier can go back and check your account against what they just put away. I'm not saying it isn't a bit of a hassle at that point, too, but it's a heck of a lot easier than dealing with it when you get home. And this way you always get credit for your coupon, which should be considered as good as cash.

Think of it in these terms: if you handed over three, new, crisp $5 bills and the cashier only gave you credit for two of them because one was stuck to the other, you'd have a serious point of contention. Why should coupons be any different? They are the tender by which you will save your family thousands of dollars over the next years… allowing you to pay for junior’s accounting degree to count all sorts of things, including chickens, someday!

This is a guest post by Mary Jo from Denver, CO
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