The modest quarter-point interest rate hike announ­ced this week presents an opportunity to guard against payment shock as we ease into more expensive borrowing.

Rob Hafer, regional manager at mortgage brokerage Invis Inc., says homeowners with variable rate loans should think about putting extra cash, like an inheritance, tax refund or a work bonus directly toward their mortgage.

Another idea is to set payments at a higher rate than the current interest amount to pay down some of the principal. That way, when rates go up, borrowers won’t have to kick in more of their income, instead, the amount toward the principal will fall.

Hafer said it’s still a good time to consider taking a variable rate mortgage because rates are low and have a fair way to go before equalling the average five-year fixed rate.

And while borrowers might be focused on the effect of interest rate hikes on their debts, savers will benefit from increased interest rates as returns on GICs begin to improve.