A mortgage is likely the biggest loan you’ll ever take out.

Not only that, it also likely means you’ll be paying off this loan over decades. It’s really important to keep up with monthly mortgage obligations in order to prevent defaulting and hurting your credit rating.

However, money can get tight, and life circumstances can cause difficulty in paying your loan back on time.

Rather than missing payments or making late payments, take proactive action to reduce your monthly loan obligation.

Here are 15 ideas to lower your mortgage payments

Refinance your loan

Refinancing your mortgage should be one of the main things you look at to lower mortgage payments. Refinancing means you’ll have a new loan and the old one goes away (the new loan covers the old loan).

With a refinanced loan, you can get lower interest rates and more importantly, lower monthly mortgage payments. You will need to have a good credit score in order to refinance your mortgage. Refinancing your mortgage is especially a good option for you if you know your credit score has increased since you initially were approved for your mortgage. Chances are, you could get a new lower interest rate and smaller monthly payments.

To see if you qualify to refinance your loan online, you can use this website.

Pay back your loan over a longer period of time

You can stretch your mortgage payments over a longer period of time in order to reduce the amount you pay each month. For example, if you have a 30 year mortgage, you can make it 40 years long.

The effect of this is lower payments each month and you can benefit from it immediately. The upside is lower monthly payments which may be exactly what you need right now instead of missing mortgage payments. The downside is that the loan will be more expensive because you will pay more interest over the term of your home loan.

There’s usually a fee (perhaps a few hundred dollars) to do this. Contact your mortgage provider to get this done.

Get rid of PMI

If you are currently paying for mortgage insurance (which you should be if you put down less than 20% when you purchased your home), getting rid of it will lower your monthly mortgage obligations.

If you’ve paid off 20% or more of your home’s originally appraised value, make sure you are no longer paying PMI. If you are, contact your lender to get it removed.

See if you can pre-pay your mortgage. If you’re close to paying off 20% of your mortgage, consider adding a lump sum payment amount to your mortgage (if you’re allowed). By doing so, you can get to a point where you’ve paid off more than 20% of your home and you won’t need to pay PMI anymore, reducing your monthly mortgage payments.

Have you added anything valuable to your home? If you’ve done something to it that adds enough value, it may help you remove PMI. Talk to your lender for details.

Has the value of your home increased a lot? If it has, you can refinance your loan and the new higher value of your home will take precedent. This could get you out of paying PMI. Also, if interest rates are currently low, consider refinancing to the lower interest rate – which would save you money over the life of your loan.

Recalculate your escrow payment

You may be able to pay less into your escrow payment (this money goes towards home insurance and property taxes). If you feel you’re paying more into escrow than you think you should, and you are, a recalculation can mean your new escrow payments will be lower – reducing your overall mortgage payments.

Rent your property

If you have anything in your home that you can rent out, like a spare room, you’ll instantly “make” money each month that can be put towards your mortgage. This isn’t an ideal scenario for some people but if you’re in a position to do so, you can make back a lot of money that can go towards your mortgage.

Get new home insurance

Make sure you’re paying the least amount possible for the coverage you need for your home. Insurance companies are hungry to do business with you. Make sure you assess your homeowners insurance policy and the premium you pay every time your renewal period comes along.

You can also switch insurance companies right now if you find a new company will give you a better rate. Your current policy will cancel and you’ll start the new one with the lower payments.

Increase your credit score

As a general way to pay less money over the life of your mortgage (or any loan for that matter) is to increase your credit score.

The amount of interest you pay (and therefore your mortgage payments) are directly related to how good of a credit score you have. The higher your credit rating the more favorable interest rate you’ll get.

You may not qualify for a refinanced loan today (which is a great way to lower interest rates and monthly payments), but perhaps in 6 months or a year or so you CAN qualify for a refinanced loan at more favorable rates. You’ll want to start working towards a better credit rating today. You can learn how to increase your credit score here.

Recalculate your new house payments

There are services online which will help you lower your monthly payments by recalculating your home payments. You don’t need to log in or register or anything like that. You’ll enter some info about your home and you’ll be able to see if you qualify for lower home payments. You can use this website to calculate your new house payments.