The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has slashed its official cash rate 12 times since 2011, (from 4.75% in October 2011 to the current rate of 1.5%). While homebuyers and property investors have enjoyed six years of falling mortgage interest rates, many experts believe that the next rate move will be up.

Other experts believe that the official cash rate will remain steady for all of 2017, while others think another cut is on the horizon if Australia’s economy remains weak or if there’s another global financial crisis.

RBA can’t keep cutting the official cash rate forever because it’s quickly running out of percentage points to cut. There have also been claims that its recent cuts have failed to have the desired effect of boosting the economy and increasing inflation.

Aussie property owners and investors haven’t seen an RBA rate rise since November 2010, so for many, it will be a financial shock. With many households spending every last cent that comes in, having to find extra money each month to accommodate rising rates could lead to financial stress.

Borrowers can minimise the financial stress that comes with higher interest rates by preparing beforehand. Those who can should start paying more than the minimum repayment, which would give them a buffer once rates start to rise. Many borrowers have been doing this in recent years and have built up equity to help them cope with future rate increases.

Borrowers should also review their current interest rates. While the big banks’ standard variable rates are between 5.2% and 5.3%, you can still negotiate a rate below 4.5%. Some smaller online lenders are offering rates between 3.8% and 3.9%. By locking in a cheaper deal now, borrowers won’t have to pay more once rates start to rise.

Lastly, borrowers shouldn’t worry about rates climbing higher very quickly. It’s been almost 30 years since 15% interest rates were the norm. Even a 7% official cash rate (last seen in 2008) seems unlikely any time in the near future. Households have borrowed so much money that such a rise would devastate the economy, inflation, and consumer spending.

While borrowers should enjoy low rates while they last, it’s wise to prepare for rate increases, whether it arrives this year or the next.