By Robin Marsh, NEWS 9

The mortgage crisis is mostly missing Oklahoma; so now could be the time to take advantage of lower interest rates and refinance your mortgage.

If you can reduce your interest rate by one percent or more, it is often beneficial to refinance. This is particularly true for those with high rates due to less- than-perfect credit.

"If you refinance to a lower interest rate, that also means lower payments and that will help you improve your credit score because you will be able to pay less," said Vince Orza, dean of the Meinders School of Business. "As long as you're paying on time, that will improve your credit score."

Start by asking your current mortgage lender about lower rates.

Also, get rid of your private mortgage insurance. If your down payment was less than 20 percent, you are probably paying PMI. Once you have a 20 percent cushion through reducing your debt and home appreciation, contact your mortgage company to start the process of removing the PMI.

Combine your cable, Internet and telephone services. Companies now offer combined services that not only cost less, but offer the convenience of a single bill.

One other note on refinancing, I have linked a mortgage calculator on my blog. Just look for the blog link on the Power of the Pocketbook page.