When I think of the year ahead, three words come to mind: gratitude, optimism — and determination.

Gratitude. If you’re reading this, then I consider you a friend. You’ve either visited my site or subscribed to my newsletter and in doing so, you’ve taken a personal interest in my advocacy. Thank you.

I’m here for you, but you’ve also showed that you’re here for me. In 2016, supporters like you helped me raise a total of $20,000 to keep your favorite consumer advocacy site running. You also visited the site often. For the year, our page views were comparable to last year’s — we had 7,947,196 visits — even though we didn’t have the benefit of two mega-viral posts and weren’t part of a formal advertising and traffic referral network. We did this independently.

I am very, very grateful to you and to my incredible team of consumer advocates who help me sort through cases, give readers advice, write, edit and research. I couldn’t possibly do this without you, my friends.

Optimism. I know many of my readers were disappointed with the results of the last presidential election and are worried about what’s to come. Yet I’m optimistic. It’s not that I share the political beliefs of the incoming administration. (I don’t; we agree on virtually nothing.) It’s that I know when laissez-faire capitalists take the wheel and start dismantling much-needed consumer regulations, those consumers turn to the advocates.

You don’t have to agree with my politics to take advantage of my advocacy. If you’re wronged in any way, my advocates won’t ask for your party affiliation before they go to work helping you. If the American government lets corporations have their way with consumers, I’ll be there for you.

Determination. In the last year, my sites have been hit by shady reputation management operatives, hackers, hostile commenters, corporate shills and friendly fire. An old editor used to say that if you’re not making someone mad, you’re not doing your job. All of these attacks have only made me more confident that my cause is just — and more determined than ever to fulfill the mission. The harder they try to knock my advocacy offline, the deeper I dig in my heels.

The enemy is out there. It wants people like me to become entitled, apathetic and lazy. But look around at American journalism and at the blogosphere. Isn’t there enough of that already? How many advocates do you know who would be willing to risk prison, endure poverty or are prepared to flee the country in order to stand up for your rights as a consumer? I know only a few. You know at least one.

I’m not going to wish my “enemies” a Happy New Year like the president-elect facetiously did last week. I have another message for the people who want to destroy regulations and legalize profiteering: I’m coming for you in 2017. Yes, you.

I hope you know how grateful I am for your support. I hope you can feel the same optimism and that you share my determination. Let’s make 2017 the best year ever for consumer advocacy.

Before I sign off on my first post of the year, I wanted to share this week’s stories:

Silly travel rules we hope will end in 2017 (USA Today)

The 2017 travel forecast: Reduced demand could result in vacation bargains (Washington Post)

What They Won’t Tell You About Your ‘Free’ Credit Report (Huffington Post)

Travel Troubleshooter: Expedia’s check is ‘in the mail’? (San Francisco Chronicle)

Happy New Year!

Psst! I'm only going to show this once.

Psst! I'm only going to show this once.

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