Tax Freedom Day sequel: Deficit Day
Arizona sales tax increase vote today, other states' tax ballot initiatives later

Tornado and tax prep time

My mother lived for decades in western Oklahoma, a region that always seems to be a target in tornado season.

Tornado1 More distressing was that she lived in a mobile home.

So I was thrilled when she recently moved into an apartment in the metro Oklahoma City area.

And what happened last week? OKC was ground zero for a series of deadly twisters.

Mum's fine. So is her new home.

But my brief sense of maternal well-being has been shattered by the realization that there is no place completely safe from some sort of disaster.

Constant disaster calendar: The official spring tornado season has obviously begun.

Residents of the northeast and south (sorry Nashville) are trying to dry out from recent floods.

Hurricane season kicks off in a couple of weeks.

And man-made messes crop up all too regularly, too, Just ask folks along the Gulf Coast who are coping with the massive BP offshore oil rig spill.

The best we can do in these and other calamitous circumstances is prepare.

Financial disaster preparedness kit: You'll need a financial disaster kit to help you through any calamity.

This includes squirreling away enough cash out in advance of a storm. Banks might be closed for while and power outages will mean ATM access is impossible.

Have at least one credit card with a sufficient credit balance to see you through a period of charging emergency supplies or repairs.

Gather all your insurance policies (health, home, auto), medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, and any other financial documents and place them in a secure spot. Offsite is advisable, but make sure you have copies on hand for your post-disaster reference.

Download any important financial, tax, etc. info from your computer to a CD or flash drive.

Take photos, either Polaroids (yes, they do still exist!) or digital, of your home, auto and other property. These will make claim filing easier and should help you answer any questions your insurance company might have.

Don't forget you taxes: Tax records should be part of the financial material you collect.

You'll need that data to help you file a claim for your disaster losses.

It's no fun to think about the worst that could happen, but if you do so now, you'll be better equipped to recover from it.

Insurance issues: For a look at how the recent, and predicted, storms might affect insurers, check out Daily Finance's Blues in Tornado Alley.

I admit that it's hard to get all weepy about insurance companies, but what happens to them financially will affect what you and I pay for our policies.

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