Dear Dr. Don,
We presently have a fixed-rate home equity loan and no first mortgage. Can we change that into a 30-year first mortgage so that our payments are much lower?
— Paula Payment

Dear Paula,
You can easily refinance to a new first mortgage. You’ll have lower monthly payments, but may wind up paying a whole lot more in total interest expense.

Bankrate’s refinancing calculator “Will you save by refinancing your mortgage?” lets you compare the costs of the two mortgages.

Some homeowners have to focus on the size of the monthly payment. Refinancing brings down the monthly nut so they can afford to stay in the house. Other consumers are concerned with minimizing the total interest expense by minimizing the interest rate and the term of the loan.

There’s not one right decision, just a decision that’s right for you. If you can’t afford a high monthly payment, a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will bring down your monthly payments.

Bankrate’s content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this Web site, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this Web site is governed by Bankrate’s Terms of Use.

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page, and select one of these topics: “Financing a home,” “Saving & Investing” or “Money.” Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.