Owning a home is a rewarding process in which you'll create wonderful memories with your family and friends and have tons of amazing experiences.  Part of the process of owning a home is being prepared for a variety of possible scenarios. Some of them won't be wonderful, but there are a number of steps you can take beforehand in order to prepare for these unexpected events if they were to happen.

When you're off having fun on vacation, it's easy to forget you've left your home unattended for a pretty long stretch of time. Chances are things will be fine, but here are a few simple tips for better security—and peace of mind—while you're traveling.

Keep a Watchful Eye

There are two easy ways to do this: use a camera or a volunteer. If you have a friend or family member you trust that lives near by, just have them stop by your place a couple of times while you're gone to make sure everything is in order. As thanks, just take them out for lunch when you get back and it's a win-win for everybody. You could also ask a neighbor you trust, or enlist the help of the neighborhood watch if you have one. Even some police departments are willing to help if you call and ask for a vacation check.

Look Like You're Home

If you look like you haven't gone anywhere and are still hanging out at home, chances are less likely that your home will be tampered with. To accomplish this, you want it to look like there's activity outside and inside your home. If you need any yard or exterior house work done, have someone do it while you're away. Go buy a cheap push light and put it by the window. They're battery-operated so they won't run up your energy bills but will give the appearance of the lights being on and therefore somebody in the house. Putting motion sensing light outside is also a good way to keep intruders from coming too close. If you want to make noise, just have an MP3 player loop a long spoken word track near the door. From outside it'll sound like a conversation. Basically, anything you can do to give the appearance of being there can help.

Be Prepared for the Worst

Regardless of what you do, your home could be tampered with while you're gone. This is unfortunate, but it's better if you're prepared ahead of time to cope with the loss. Check your insurance policy and claim procedures before you leave so you know what you need to do if something bad happens. You'll want to create a home inventory (which I'll cover next week) and take lots of pictures of the place before you leave. While the home inventory can take awhile, once it's done it's easy to update. Taking pictures only takes a few minutes, and calling your insurance company to know the procedures is also a quick task that doesn't need repeating. This may seem like a lot of work, but it's a lot worse if you have to deal with disaster unprepared.