It began out of necessity.
Kati Kiefer, a seven-year Valrico resident, said she saw the writing on the wall when the economy took a turn for the worst.
At the time, Kiefer was a stay-at-home mom homeschooling her four children, now ages 12, 10, 8 and 6. Her husband, James, was the plant manager for a chemical company.
"They starting laying off people and cutting salaries at his job," said Kiefer. "I began to brace for the fall by learning how to coupon."
The Dunedin native who received an accounting degree from the University of South Florida developed a fast and easy system for clipping, filing and using coupons to save money.
"Our grocery bill was $600 a month, which I thought was great budgeting and rather low," she said. "But once I figured out True Couponing and started using it, our monthly grocery bill, including household and personal care supplies, is now $200 a month."
Kiefer became so adept at couponing that friends began to ask her to teach them.
"We'd have these in-home parties where I'd share my knowledge. And, before long, they turned into big parties with 40 people and then speaking engagements," said Kiefer.
To reach a wider audience of people interested in couponing, she started the website TrueCouponing.com in 2009 and began writing a blog on Facebook. Today, the website has more than 28,000 subscribers and Kiefer has 16,700 Facebook fans from around the country who follow her advice religiously.
"It's really developed into a phenomenon," said Kiefer, who now works on her website and blog full time. She also provides free seminars to any group interested in learning more about True Couponing. To meet the demand for the seminars, she's recruited friends around Tampa Bay to serve as seminar leaders.
"Couponing crosses all socio-economic levels," Kiefer. said "There are those who think it's a fun way to make their money go further. Maybe they want to save for a vacation or other fringe benefit. Then, there are those of us who are afraid we're not going to be able to pay our mortgage. Couponing has become a necessity."
And with the economy refusing to recover, Kiefer said clipping coupons has become more popular than ever.
"My website gets hits in every state now," she said. "I had no idea how big this would get. I really feel this is a calling from God — that I'm helping people."
She joined forces with Orlando resident Melisha Kreppein, who had her own couponing blog, and together the two women update the True Couponing website on a daily basis with the latest coupon offerings and specials.
Working in cooperation with local grocery and drug stores, the website features coupons from retailers, advice on couponing and tips on finding and using coupons, along with information on freebies and discounts.
The duo earn commissions off the coupons they feature on the site.
"We're now able to make a living doing this," Kiefer said. "It's amazing. I never thought this would develop into a full-time job."
In addition to maintaining her website and writing her blog, Kiefer is a regular visitor on WFLA Channel 8's Daytime show and appears weekly on the Big Big House Morning Show hosted by Abby Brundage of Spirit FM 90.5.
And, yes, she still finds time to clip coupons for her family.
"I'm a lifetime couponer," she said. "It's become a lifestyle for me."
Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch readers will have an opportunity to check out Kiefer's deals of the week on Patch. Starting next week, Kiefer will post a regular blog on Patch featuring specials, upcoming seminars and couponing tips. Stay tuned.