It was an eventful year, both in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. Donald Trump won the election, the Cubs won the World Series and the Zika virus crashed the Olympics.
Thanks to these events, 2016 can teach you a lot about the economy and money. From the fallout of corporate bankruptcies to the cost of environmental destruction, here are 41 financial current events from this year — and the money lessons you can learn from them.
1. Rams Return to Los Angeles
The year began with headline news from the NFL, but not about the Super Bowl. On Jan. 12, the St. Louis Rams organization announced it would move back to Los Angeles after NFL owners approved of the relocation.
Lesson: Start saving for retirement early. You don't want to end up like these NFL players in dire financial straits.
2. Stock Market Starts Poorly
The stock market started off 2016 with a serious decline in January and into February. On Feb.10, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 178 points and the S&P 500 dropped by 1.4 percent. Worries spread of an imminent market meltdown.
Fortunately, stock markets rebounded from the early year dip. In November, the Dow Jones not only recovered, but reached an all-time high.
Lesson: Panic is contagious, so be on guard and keep yourself immune from the spread of mania.
3. Peyton Manning Retires After Super Bowl 50 Win
Played on Feb. 7, Super Bowl 50 proved to be a tight game, at least for the first half. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos defense beat Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers excellent offense in a 24-10 victory at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
After the Broncos' victory, Manning announced his retirement from the NFL. The win marked his second Super Bowl ring.
Lesson: Always try to go out on top, whether in life or in investing.
4. Zika Virus Scares World
The world got a scare in February, when the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of Zika virus a global health emergency. As the virus spread internationally, athletes and nonathletes alike began to worry about attending the summer's 2016 Rio Olympics.
Lesson: Does your insurance cover Zika? Learn about your health coverage, so you're not stuck paying out-of-pocket for medical treatment.
5. Kanye West Drowns in Debt
Kanye West shocked the entertainment world in February when he tweeted that he was $53 million in debt. Plenty of celebrities have money troubles, but you should see what West bought that led him into debt.
One of the most notable enterprises to drain West’s money was his attempt to launch a high-end line of women's clothes. Unfortunately, none of the products made it to retailers. Recently, the artist was hospitalized due to exhaustion and canceled the rest of his 2016 tour, according to the New York Times.
Lesson: Beware of grandiosity — not every venture is worth pursuing.
6. ‘Deadpool’ Is R-Rated Blockbuster
Marvel's Deadpool, a mutant character similar to the X-Men, got his own movie in February. Comic spinoff adaptations can be risky, but "Deadpool" paid off, grossing more than $132 million in its opening weekend. As of November, the film raked in more than $780 million worldwide and ranks as the No. 2 highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, behind only "The Passion of the Christ."
Lesson: Embrace change and invest aggressively — when it makes sense. For instance, the shorter your investment time frame, the safer your investments need to be.
7. DC Comics Soar at Box Office
In an era when Marvel movies are coming out left and right, DC Comics has managed to hold its own. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hit theaters March 25 and grossed a massive $166 million in its opening weekend. As of November, the Batman-Superman crossover film had grossed more than $870 million worldwide.
But don’t forget DC’s other blockbuster this year: “Suicide Squad.” Featuring Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto, “Suicide Squad” has raked in $745 million at the global box office.
Lesson: Do the Joneses seem to have everything? Like DC, you can compete with a rival if you just raise the level of your game.
8. Subprime Auto Loans Spark Concerns
Subprime auto loans emerged in the news in 2016, with some observers worrying that such loans are about to become the next economic bubble. Although experts generally doubt that subprime auto loans will reach the magnitude of the subprime mortgage crisis, the numbers still raise concerns.
According to Experian’s "State of the Automotive Finance Market" report, the total balance of open car loans set a new record in 2016. In the first quarter, the total balance reached $1.005 trillion, up from $905 billion in the first quarter of 2015. This marked the first time the number exceeded $1 trillion.
Lesson: Perform your due diligence, and research the pros and cons of your auto loan.
9. Virgin America and Alaska Air Merge
The airline industry experienced a shake-up in early 2016. On April 4, Alaska Air and Virgin America announced plans for the former company to acquire the latter at $57 per share in cash. The value of the transaction is estimated to be around $4 billion. The move could pay off for Alaska Air in the long run, as the airline has now acquired additional travel markets in the U.S.
Lesson: Alaska Air experienced a dip in third-quarter earnings because of the acquisition, highlighting an age-old rule in finance: You have to spend money to make money.
10. Prince Dies
Prince — one of the world’s most famous musical icons — died on April 21 at the age of 57. He died from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl, according to a report by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.
Prince joined fellow music legends Michael Jackson and David Bowie on the list of the wealthiest artists upon their death. Unfortunately, much work needs to be done to square away Prince's estate.
Lesson: Make things easier on those close to you: Don’t die without a will.
11. Intel Announces Massive Layoffs
April 19 was a dark day for tech giant Intel as it experienced a company-wide layoff that rivaled the biggest in recent history. The company announced that it would slash 11 percent of its workforce, or 12,000 employees across the globe.
Observers have said two of the biggest stumbling blocks for Intel have been its difficulty in successfully adapting to mobile devices and its overreliance on traditional computer products.
Lesson: Don’t let stability become a weakness as it did for Intel, which was too wedded to desktops and microprocessors.
12. Goldman Sachs Fined
Memories of the 2008 financial crisis returned in April, when Goldman Sachs concluded a huge settlement with the Justice Department.
The Justice Department brought Goldman Sachs up on federal charges of deceptive mortgage policies on the eve of the housing crisis. Goldman acknowledged it lied about “significant percentages” of the mortgages it bundled into mortgage-backed securities. The total cost of the settlement was $5.06 billion.
Lesson: Behave badly, and it can prove costly financially.
13. Energy Industry Woes Deepen
Energy companies received a rude awakening in 2016. A slew of firms failed, especially in the spring. According to Forbes, two of the biggest energy companies to run into financial trouble were Ultra Petroleum — which folded due to $3.9 billion in debt — and Energy XXI, which filed bankruptcy with $2.9 billion of debt.
Lesson: Oil prices are volatile, but leave playing the market to stock analysts and savants. Look for long-term value in companies in which you wish to invest.
14. Muhammad Ali Dies
Legendary boxer and Vietnam War objector Muhammad Ali died on June 3. Ali’s net worth at his death was an estimated $80 million, according to Forbes.
Lesson: Become good at something, and it might make you very rich.
15. Disney Scores at Box Office
Disney made a killing at the box office in 2016. Through its “golden goose” Pixar Animation Studios, Disney released the $1 billion-grossing “Finding Dory” on June 17, the sequel to the 2003 blockbuster “Finding Nemo.”
Disney doesn’t have to rely on Pixar alone to turn out animated hits. Another of this year’s box office successes — “Zootopia” — was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, the same unit that produced “Frozen.” And those are just the Disney-animated films. The studio also released other top-grossing films, including “Captain America: Civil War” and the live-action “Jungle Book.”
Lesson: Try to build on past successes to take your career to even greater heights.
16. Cavaliers Win NBA Championship
LeBron James won his first championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 19. For the Cleveland franchise, it was the first NBA championship ever. In a tight series, the Golden State Warriors took the Cavaliers to a seventh game before losing to the eventual champions.
Lesson: Teamwork and setting aside ego can help in finance, whether it’s investing or starting a business.
17. Costco and Amex Split
June marked a momentous change in the world of shopping: Costco and American Express ended their 16-year exclusive partnership. Although Costco and Visa contend the switch is for the best, there are still many details customers need to know about the change.
Lesson: Regardless of how you pay, you can still save $100 on your next trip to Costco — if you know the right shopping tactics.
18. Brexit Vote Shocks Everyone
On June 23, Britain voted to leave the European Union after a contentious membership of many years. Almost immediately, the U.S. felt the impact of Brexit. Stocks plummeted around the world to some of their lowest levels in recent history, temporarily causing a sharp dip in American 401k accounts. But, U.S. portfolios soon recovered.
Lesson: "No man is an island," and no country's economy is isolated from the rest of the world. Foreign financial developments can hit closer to home than you think.
19. Oracle Battles HP and Loses
These tech giants went head-to-head in court during the summer. On June 30, a California jury ordered Oracle to pay $3 billion to HP in damages. The court ruled Oracle violated its contract to develop software for HP when the company decided to discontinue development of the Itanium server chip that was used by HP hardware.
Lesson: Know the details and what they entail in every contract you sign.
20. U.S. Turns 240 Years Old
July 4, 2016, marked the 240th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Just over a decade after the U.S. declared independence, it had a constitution, its first president and a population approaching 4 million.
Over the next 240 years, the American population would grow to well over 300 million. The U.S. transformed from an agrarian society into the world’s largest economic power, with prosperous states such as Texas having a GDP that’s comparable to an entire nation such as Brazil.
Lesson: A little hard work and determination at the beginning of a venture can result in huge success many years down the road.
21. Pokemon Go Explodes
The already highly successful Pokemon franchise broke new ground with the release of Pokemon Go on July 6. According to Nintendo’s second-quarter earnings report, the company made $115 million off the licensing fees for Pokemon Go alone.
Lesson: But beware of gaming addiction and its impact on your finances. A recent GOBankingRates study found that one in three Pokemon Go users would turn down money for an in-game perk.
22. Walmart and Other Retailers Announce Closings
Many major retailers faced difficult times in 2016. In August, Macy’s announced it would close 100 of its 675 full-line stores. Sports Authority, too, encountered rough waters. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March and closed 460 stores.
Even Walmart wasn’t spared. In January, the massive retailer announced plans to shut down 269 stores across the globe, including 154 U.S. locations.
Lesson: Always innovate — if you become stagnant, changing conditions can sweep away your successes.
23. 2016 Summer Olympics Succeed
The Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro in August. Despite the shadow cast by the outbreak of the Zika virus, observers generally regarded the games as exceeding expectations.
The Rio Olympics actually weren’t too expensive. They cost an estimated $4.6 billion, well below the average $8.9 billion cost of the Olympics over the past decade, according to Social Science Research Network.
Lesson: Still, travel to Rio is expensive — unless you know the best time to book your trip.
24. Warren Buffett Turns 86
Warren Buffett — the Oracle of Omaha and one of the world’s most successful investors — celebrated his 86th birthday on Aug. 30. Over the course of his long life, Buffett has grown his net worth to more than $70 billion, according to Forbes. During his career, Buffett met Charlie Munger and formed one of the most successful business partnerships in history.
Lesson: Read a lot. As Buffett has been quoted as saying, “You need to fill your mind with various competing thoughts and decide which make sense. Then you have to jump in the water — take a small amount of money and do it yourself.”
25. North Korea Tests Nuclear Warhead
In September, North Korea claimed to have successfully detonated a nuclear warhead that could be ballistic in nature. That would make it capable of long-distance range. North Korea’s continued development of nuclear capabilities is impacting the global economy, as more countries impose sanctions on the nation.
Lesson: Be mindful of global trends, because even distant economic events like Brexit or a North Korean nuclear test can hit close to home in your finances.
26. September 11 Anniversary Observed
Sept. 11, 2016, marked 15 years since the devastating terrorist attack on the U.S. In the time between Sept. 11, 2001, and today, the U.S. has fought major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in hopes of rooting out terrorism across the globe. When you include the cost of the fight against terrorism, the economic impact of 9/11 on the country is in the trillions of dollars.
Lesson: Always prepare your finances for the unexpected, whether it’s a natural or man-made disaster.
27. Brad and Angelina Divorce
Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment world were saddened when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie filed for divorce in 2016. According to Forbes, the couple earned a combined $555 million since 2004, and questions have arisen about how their money will be split.
Lesson: Like many things in finance, geography plays a role. The cost of divorce varies significantly from state to state, so make sure you know where to find the cheapest divorce ... if it comes to that.
28. Wells Fargo Scandal Erupts
Wells Fargo earned serious notoriety in 2016. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined the bank in September for the illegal business practice of opening more than 2 million unauthorized accounts. These revelations led to the ousting of John Stumpf as CEO of Wells Fargo.
Lesson: Bank customers should do their homework. Just because it’s brick-and-mortar and has a historic name doesn’t mean a bank can’t stoop to new lows.
29. Yahoo Hacked
Internet users got startling news on Sept. 22, when Yahoo confirmed that data “associated with at least 500 million user accounts” was hacked. The incident ranks among the biggest-ever cybersecurity breaches.
Lesson: Make it tough for hackers to get your money. Don't reuse passwords for any important accounts, and change your password at least three times a year.
30. Trump Doesn’t Release Taxes
Throughout the contentious 2016 presidential election, Republican candidate — and future president-elect — Donald Trump’s tax returns became a burning issue.
According to the New York Times, in 1995, Trump declared a $916 million loss, potentially large enough to enable him to have legally avoided federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
Lesson: The tax code has many loopholes that can be exploited for financial gain.
31. Federal Reserve Rate-Hike Watch Continues
People who watch the Federal Reserve have speculated for a long time that an interest rate hike might be coming. In June, Janet Yellen announced the Federal Open Market Committee would keep interest rates steady. Many observers now expect a Fed rate hike in December unless something significant arises and undermines the move.
Lesson: Changes in the federal funds rate affect all parts of the economy, from mortgage rates down to auto loans. Be prepared for a rate hike.
32. Home Prices Skyrocket
Across the U.S., many cities are undergoing feverish increases in housing prices. Although rising prices are good for homeowners, some metro areas have seen home prices outpace residents’ income. Fortunately, many housing markets devastated by the housing crisis, such as cities in Florida and California, have made a big comeback in 2016.
Lesson: Learn how to take advantage of rising prices to increase your home’s value.
33. Millions in Stolen Art Returned
Like something out of a Dan Brown novel, two Van Gogh paintings stolen in 2002 were finally found in September. They were recovered amid an ongoing government investigation into organized-crime activity. Investigators estimated the two stolen works to be worth $100 million.
Lesson: Collecting art is just one example of an alternative investment, and it sometimes pays off handsomely.
34. Hurricane Matthew Unleashes Fury
Mother Nature unleashed its fury in the form of Hurricane Matthew this fall. Beginning as a tropical wave off Africa in late September, Hurricane Matthew grew into a Category 4 hurricane when it slammed into Haiti and Cuba on Oct. 4.
By the time Matthew struck the U.S., it had been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. Despite that weakening, Matthew still proved costly. Research and consulting firm CoreLogic estimated total insured residential and commercial property losses to be between $4 billion and $6 billion.
Lesson: If you live in an area where hurricanes are common, review your homeowners insurance. Make sure you’re covered for full home rebuilding and other policies that protect your home’s value.
35. Second Presidential Debate Clarifies Race
Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in the second presidential debate on Oct. 9. Besides personal attacks, the candidates put forward their stances on key financial issues.
On Obamacare, Clinton voiced her support for its continuation, but with improvements. Trump, on the other hand, came out flatly against it. Trump also presented his plan for reducing the number of tax brackets, as well as significantly dropping tax rates.
Lesson: Find out more about taking advantage of strategies to legally "cheat" your tax bracket, such as donating money to charity or getting married.
36. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recalled
Samsung was forced to recall its Galaxy Note 7 cellphone from the market this fall. In multiple cases, Note 7 batteries sparked and caught fire, damaging the phone and harming users. As a result of the recall, Samsung profits dropped by 30 percent in the third quarter, according to Forbes.
Lesson: With a little research, you can potentially get a discount on your cellphone bill. If you work for a company that has a business account with a cellular provider, ask if the provider and your employer have a deal to provide discounts to employees' families.
37. Cubs Win World Series
After a 108-year drought, the Chicago Cubs won the Major League Baseball World Series on Nov. 2. The Cubs faced off against the American League champions, the Cleveland Indians, and beat them in a seventh and deciding game that went into extra innings.
Lesson: Patience, vision and incremental improvements can work wonders.
38. 2016 Presidential Election Stuns Pundits
In one of the biggest election upsets, Trump defeated Clinton, becoming the nation’s wealthiest president. The stock market initially plunged due to worries and uncertainty over Trump's win. However, that quickly changed, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded and notched an all-time high later in November.
Lesson: When it comes to the stock market, take initial reactions with a grain of salt.
39. Mickey Mouse Turns 88
Disney icon Mickey Mouse turned 88 years old on Nov. 18. The signature Disney character debuted in “Steamboat Willie” in 1928. Although running only eight minutes long, the cartoon marked the meteoric rise of Mickey Mouse in particular, and Disney in general.
Lesson: In Walt Disney’s words, “If you dream it, you can do it.”
40. J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Triumphs
Author J.K. Rowling can turn out box office hits that are based on more than just “Harry Potter.” The book-within-a-book adaptation of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was released Nov. 18 and easily scored No. 1 at the weekend box office, taking in more than $74 million.
Lesson: Build success on top of success to reach your personal finance goal.
41. Melting Arctic Raises Global Warming Fears
The Arctic is experiencing unusually warm temperatures, both in the air and water, according to LiveScience. Worryingly, even though it is now well into autumn in the Arctic, sea ice isn’t growing as it should in colder seasons — it’s shrinking.
The melting polar ice caps are just one sign of unsettling climate change. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the estimated annual cost of four climate change impacts — hurricane damage, real estate losses, energy costs and water costs — is almost $1.9 trillion, or 1.8 percent of American GDP.
Lesson: Little changes in your financial life can add up to big problems if you ignore them.