What I'm thinking about headed into 2017

Good morning from Portland, Oregon. If you're traveling for the holidays, I hope your flights are safe, comfortable, and on time and your roads are clear. As 2016 staggers towards a close it's natural for thoughts to turn to the new year. Here's what's on my mind.

Manufactured spend

Last week I read a post-mortem on 2016 that claimed manufactured spend was either dead or dying, and I assume there are parts of the country where that's more or less true. In other parts of the country the amount of spend you can manufacture is limited only by the time and attention you're willing to dedicate to the task.

As 2017 starts I'll be moving spend back to my Delta Platinum Business American Express to start running up the score on Medallion Qualifying Miles and towards a Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver. I don't chase high-level Delta status anymore, but do enjoy the free checked bags and decent seat selection I get as a Delta Silver Medallion. The real reason I manufacture spend on that card, though, is the 1.4 SkyMiles per dollar I earn at the $25,000 and $50,000 spend levels. Since I value SkyMiles at more than 1.5 cents each, that's more valuable to me than putting the same spend on a 2.105% cash back card.

In the last couple months I loaded up on spend with my Chase Hyatt credit card in order to hit the $40,000 spend threshold, but my expectation is I won't be putting any spend on that card in 2017. The annual Category 1-4 free night award will still justify paying the annual fee, for now.

The biggest change to my manufactured spend practice is that thanks to some current opportunities I expect to spend much more time in drug stores and much less time in Walmarts in 2017.


In the 2-and-change years I've been writing this blog, it's changed in a lot of ways. When I started I spent a lot of time documenting and describing the tips and tricks I was reading about on other blogs and FlyerTalk. As time went on I became more focused on exploring new opportunities and, as I put it, explaining "how things really work." Recently I've become more focused on optimizing strategies for particular goals, and I've become even more cynical (if that's possible) about the parasites who put their own interests above those of their readers.

I've lost some readers as my focus has shifted over the years, and I've also gained readers who appreciate my newer content more than the older. This blog will never be all things to all people, but it'll always be independent.

In 2017 I hope to write some more book and podcast reviews, since I read a lot and listen to a lot of podcasts, and I enjoy the opportunity to collect and distill my thoughts about them.

Subscribers-only Newsletters

In the last few months I've stepped up the tempo of the periodic Newsletters I send out to monthly blog subscribers. Partly that's because there's been a surge of new deals towards the end of this year, and partly it's because I enjoy the opportunity to write unconstrained from fear of "killing" somebody's favorite deal.

I'll always maintain this public blog because I think it's important to have as many unbiased voices available as possible as a counterweight to the mercenary affiliate bloggers flooding the internet. But deals and ideas that might be threatened by widespread exposure will continue to go in my Subscribers-only Newsletters.

And by the way, if you enjoy this blog I hope you'll consider supporting it with a monthly blog subscription in 2017!


During the Great Financial Crisis, the federal government took the two main federal home loan insurers into conservatorship. For a range of technical and legal reasons, however, they did not force them into bankruptcy and did not wipe out the existing shareholders. And, strangely enough, those shares are still traded for just under $4 on the over-the-counter markets.

I think there's a non-trivial chance the new Administration will stop sweeping the GSE's profits into the Treasury, and those shares will become 10-100 times more valuable. So I bought some!

This isn't advice, just something I'm looking forward to in 2017.


2017 will be my year of Hyatt stays. After March 1, as a World of Hyatt Globalist I'll be eligible for suite upgrades on award stays. Plus, since I won't be trying to requalify as Globalist for 2018 I'll be free to redeem Hyatt points for all my stays and not be constrained by the availability of Points + Cash awards.

Already in the works are trips to Jamaica to stay at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and to Lexington, Kentucky for the April races at Keeneland. Beyond that, the plan as always is to keep my eyes open for international travel opportunities, as well as shorter weekend trips domestically.