WASHINGTON — There’s a reason you have a rearview mirror in your car. You have to see what’s behind you.

It’s the same thing when it comes to your money, and that’s why I’ve looked back at what I consider some of the most important money stories that can impact people’s finances.

Here’s my countdown of the top 10 financial stories for 2016 and what we can learn from them.

10. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau structure ruled unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit objected to the agency being run by a single director who can be removed only “for cause” by the president. Under the ruling, the director can be removed at the president’s discretion.

The lesson: This is an important agency. But a president too cozy with corporate America could pick a director who won’t be as fierce a champion for consumer protection.

9. $1.6 billion Powerball. The year began with the biggest jackpot in U.S. lottery history. There were three tickets sold in California, Tennessee and Florida. The odds of winning that jackpot were 1-in-292 million. Lots of people played hoping to become instant millionaires – after taxes.

The lesson: You want financial security? Spend less and save more. Don’t gamble your money away.

8. Fiduciary rule. The Department of Labor, the federal agency that oversees retirement plans, finalized a rule to require financial professionals advising people about their retirement accounts to act in their clients’ best interests.

The lesson: We need to make sure investors are getting the best advice possible to manage their retirement savings.

7. Prince died. Prince Rogers Nelson once wrote “slave” on his face to protest a music deal that left him without ownership of his music. But the “Purple Rain” artist, an icon in the music business, who died at 57, didn’t have a will.

The lesson: Listen to Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” Then imagine your heirs crying and screaming over your stuff. Is that the financial legacy you want to leave? If not, get a will.

6. Stock market decline/stock market rise. The year began with the Dow crashing down. In January, the Dow dropped 392 points in one day. It dipped again by nearly 400 points in September. But by the end of year, it’s been riding high with the Dow coming close to reaching a 20,000 milestone.

The lesson: This is the nature of investing. There will be lots of ups and downs. So invest for the long term. You can’t time the market.

5. Overtime. A rule by the Labor Department that would have made overtime pay available to full-time salaried employees earning up to $47,476 a year, up from the current threshold of $23,660 a year, was halted by a Texas judge. The rule would have impacted 4 million workers.

The lesson: They giveth and they taketh away.

4. IRS telephone scam. This was a big-time con in 2016. Scammers, claiming to be from the IRS, were threatening people with jail time if they didn’t pay a tax bill they didn’t owe. But by the end of the year, the number of new victims started to drop precipitously since federal enforcement actions took place in the U.S. and in India, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Police in India conducted a raid at nine call centers, helping to curb this con. The agency says there’s been a decline from as high as 200 new victims a week last spring to 19 new victims in the last week.

The lesson: This scam might pick up again as the tax season approaches. But please don’t be fooled. The IRS will not call you demanding payment.

3. Pension insurance program running out of money. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which insures private pensions, reported a $58.8 billion shortfall in covering multiemployer pension plans that are expected to fall short themselves within 10 years.

The lesson: More evidence that you need to save.

2. Wells Fargo. The CFPB fined Wells Fargo $100 million for – unbeknownst to its customers – opening hundreds of thousands of unauthorized bank and credit-card accounts.

The lesson: Calls to roll back regulation of major financial institutions are insane. Clearly there’s need for increased consumer protection.

1. Andrew Puzder picked by Donald Trump for labor secretary. This selection should cause concern among workers. Puzder, who runs the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has opposed rules that would expand overtime eligibility and has criticized efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The lesson: We need to double down on efforts to fight for a living wage for workers.

Here’s hoping 2017 will bring better personal finance news.

Michelle Singletary can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: SingletaryM