No. of Recommendations: 6
For my 50k post, I took a retrospective look backwards. Now as we celebrate my 18th Fooliversary, I think it's time to take stock with where I am and where I'm going. Warning - some of this will be investing related but much of this will be personal and opinionated. Your mileage may vary.

I am 51 and while I had an active 2017 and lots planned for 2018, I'm slowing down. I have always been a nigh owl but getting up in the morning is increasingly difficult. I really hate those who start posting at 6am on social media. Well, hate may be strong, but frankly, they show the rest of us up and they need to stop ruining the curve.

It's no secret that I'm a type 2 diabetic. The year was going great until November when my A1C spiked up, words a diabetic never wants to hear. I'm not sure the reason, but the solution is to attack diet and exercise and medication. It doesn't help that my specialist doc retired (coincidence?) and I have to break in a new doc in 2018. However, they don't have an opening until late February. Getting my blood sugars under control again will be a major challenge for the new year.

In 2017, I had to work with a high deductible health plan for the first time, which means I was basically left to fend for myself for 11 months, not hitting my deductible until mid-December. I had to implement a strategy of using an FSA and HSA to cover my out-of-pocket costs, which meant sometimes delaying doctor's visits and prescription refills until I had the funds to pay for them. Next year I'll have some extra money saved up in my HSA account which will hopefully make managing healthcare spending a little easier.

Yes, the healthcare system is broken, but I don't think it's Obamacare that's at fault. It's the power and control health insurance and pharmaceutical companies have over our lives that's causing the most problems. Instead, however, politicians are preoccupied with the false pretense that healthcare reform is about government control, leaving the industry to run roughshod over insureds.

I don't want to get off on a rant here, but free market capitalism is great in theory but we don't live in a theoretical world. Regulations are necessary to prevent the human greed factor, which rarely is included in economic philosophy discussions, from creating an imbalance that favors business over consumers. Businesses may complain about the costs of compliance, but that's simply a cost of doing business. Nobody in positions of power seem to care about the rights and interests of consumers.

Today's businesses seem to feel that there should be no barriers to their profitability motive, and that includes their customers. Rampant arbitration clauses give corporations a blank check to treat consumers as commodities with little concern for legal consequences, as long as the market value is protected. There was a time when corporate citizenship was as important as making a buck, but today it too often is only out of self-interest - PR and tax advantages. With the new tax law, companies will have less incentive to practice conscious capitalism and more reason to cater to institutional shareholders over human resources.

2017 was a year of voices ringing out finally being heard. One has to wonder had there been more power behind employee rights regulations and anti-discriminatory practices whether women's voices and those victimized by sexual and other harassment might have been heard and respected sooner. Whether it was women finally having enough of Harvey Weinstein or a visceral reaction to a Commander-In-Chief who was caught on tape gleefully gloating that might makes right when it comes to sexual conquests, but in 2018, men will fear even innocent interactions being taken out of context and used against them. A few bad eggs can ruin the meal for everyone else.

I expect the pendulum will eventually swing the other way - men and women will treat each other respectfully as equals, businesses will ask themselves what's best for their customers as well as for themselves, politicians will focus on the needs of the country rather than preserving power for the party. Or maybe I'm just an idealist and things will continue to descend into chaos, just like the Russians are hoping.

In 2018, I will be doing a bit of traveling. This will be the last year of Braves Spring Training at Disney's Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World, and I will again be heading down for a 3 day, 3 game weekend in March. This time, I'll be staying at Coronado Springs and in addition to the baseball, taking time to visit Pandora - The Land of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

I am also tentatively planning on a trip to my alma matter in St. Louis for a first-ever gathering of generations of scholarship winners. I received the 25th of 25 half tuition scholarships but as Judge T Stone famously said, at least I was on the list. In May, I'm hoping to once again attend FoolFest™ as a CMF representative and meet as many of you fellow Fools as possible.

Then come August is the big adventure of the year - I'll be taking a 7 day cruise on the Disney Wonder to Alaska. The plan is to fly into Seattle, then take the train up to Vancouver, BC to board the ship. With stops in Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, this is definitely a bucket list item I am excited to cross off. I'll be traveling sans kids so it will be a test to the claim that Disney Cruises are for adults as well.

There is no question the Alaska Cruise is a huge expense, but I have a promotional rate on both the deposit and the balance due through my Disney Rewards Visa card. The points I earn as well have already paid dividends over the years in terms of thousands of dollars in discounts and cash back towards vacation packages and souvenirs.

I'll also be promotionally financing car repairs to my 12 year old FuskieMobile™ hybrid ($450 this month, another $1500 anticipated for next year), and will be paying for my new iPhone (I'm an X-Man now!) for the next 2 years. I wanted a really nice picture and video camera for the Alaska trip. I was planning on getting an Apple Watch 3, but with so many financial uncertainties in the coming year, I'm shying away from that goal. Maybe when they figure out how to watch Braves games on the watch or take real-time blood-glucose readings.

2018 will bring the second year for the Atlanta Braves at Suntrust Park, which is just about 15-20m from my home. I'm hoping that with new management (our former GM was found guilty of violating MLB rules and banned from the sport for life) in the front office, the team will find a way to excel and be competitive. My season tickets, too, are being paid for with promotional financing and with the support of season-ticket partners who have bought 2/3 of the games while I maintain account holder benefits.

Still, the amount of debt I'll be carrying into the new year is not very Foolish, and there are some additional expenses along the way. My HOA has raised monthly dues by $65/mo and also approved a $1000 special assessment to replenish reserve coffers depleted by a major property plumbing and repaving project this past year. My HVAC units are also extremely old and may have to be replaced before 2019 raises it's cherubic head. And those are just the things I know about. Fortunately, after years of cultivation and careful management, my credit score remains strong well controlled at a very high level.

Investing-wise (I knew I'd get here eventually), my portfolio has suffered from lack of attention. Fortunately, it's value in 2017 has benefited from that lack of attention, growing about 26% over the last 12 months. I still have about 11% available in cash to take advantage of opportunities when (not if) the trump bubble bursts and there's a market correction. I should probably feel guilty but I don't think a President has as much to do with the direction of the stock market as they claim they do.

While most of my investments are tied up in tax-advantaged accounts, I do have 3 retail positions. One, the result of a former employer's ESPP, will be sold off next month, when my tax rate is lowered, to cover some of my financed expenses. The second, my oldest position whose roots trace back to my first employee stock purchase of Turner Broadcasting in the early 90's, will be liquidated if and when the AT&T merger with Time Warner is completed. My third position, the Pixar shares converted to The Walt Disney Company a decade plus ago, isn't going anywhere.

In fact, 3 of my 5 Ticker Guide companies are involved in M&A activity - Disney is buying 21st Century Fox, AT&T is buying Time Warner and Northrop Grumman is buying Orbital ATK. So from a Foolish perspective, 2018 will be an extremely active year. I am probably going to seek to reduce my cash reserve in half, putting some of it to work early in the year, with the anticipation that an increase in M&A activity should result in more investments turning into additional cash as positions are bought out. One thing is for sure, TMF provides me with plenty of investment opportunities to choose from.

All in all, 2017 has been a pretty good year. The list of things to accomplish in 2018 is longer than the number of days in the year, but hopefully, if I'm able to accomplish at least one impossible thing a week, I'll be able to pull much of it off. I start the year the way I start off each baseball season - optimistic and open to the opportunities.

I hope you look are able to look back on 2017 with equal satisfaction and may your 2018 be happy, healthy and rewarding.

Just as a reminder, there are a few hours left today to Rec my 50k post and increase my Foolanthropy contribution in support of All Hands & Hearts...

http://boards.fool.com/50000-posts-and-boy-are-my-fingers-ti...

If you want to make your own tax-deductible donation before the end of the year:

http://give.fool.com

Fuskie
Who thanks you for your reception and contributions to the Foolish Community and looks forward to more engaging conversations in the new year...

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Ticker Guide for The Walt Disney Company (DIS), Orbital ATK (OA), Titan International (TWI), Time Warner (TWX), Global Payments (GPN)
Disclaimer: This post is non-professional and should not be construed as direct, individual or accurate advice
Disclosure: May own shares of some, many or all of the companies mentioned in this post (tinyurl.com/FuskieDisclosure)
Fool Code of Conduct: http://tinyurl.com/FoolCode
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