What comes to figuring out how much mortgage they can afford, many consumers find out the hard way that they were wrong, especially when their mortgage bills start piling up. Unfortunately, many consumers find out that their house isn’t worth what they actually owe on it, a term called having an “underwater” mortgage.

Approximately 15% of homes in the United States are now “underwater” and, if you’re the owner of one of them and scared at the thought of losing your home, we’ve put together a list of options that you can use to help you avoid that. Enjoy.

The first is one of the most common, which is to either modify or refinance your mortgage loan. The fact is, the first people that you should talk to if you’re having problems making your mortgage payments are the people who lent you the money in the first place, your bank or your mortgage company. They’re in the best position to tell you if refinancing your loan makes sense, or if it’s possible to get a longer loan with lower rates.

While not everyone will be eligible for a straight up home refinance, the federal government also has a program called the Home Affordable Refinance Program ( HARP) that might help.

Another way to keep up with your mortgage payments, especially if you have rooms that you aren’t using, is to read those rooms out. In some cases homeowners have even moved out of their home completely and into the home of a relative and rented the entire house out in order to keep up with the mortgage payments. It might seem silly and convoluted but, if it helps you to keep your home while you get back on your feet, it may well be worth it.

Asking family or friends to help you if you’re having financial troubles (but they’re only short-term troubles) might be an option as well, although it helps to be on very good terms with those family members or friends before you do.

One option, although it should really be considered as a last resort, is to sell your home in a “short sale”. This allows you to sell it for less than the amount that you owe on your mortgage, letting the bank take a hit for the loss. It’s a bit complicated and, in most cases, will affect your credit score negatively, but it is an option.

While these options might not be feasible for everyone, and aren’t exactly easy, they might help you to hold off bankruptcy and foreclosure long enough to get back on your feet and start paying those mortgage bills once again.