The Student Room Group

Tips on Making the Most of Your Maintenance Loan

When you're in the middle of exams or trying to complete a coursework project, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not you have enough money to get you through the week - so I can safely say that If I've learnt anything from my first year at university, it's how important a budget is.

I won't lie - normal budgeting can be hard, especially if you've never had to really do it before. But budgeting a maintenance loan is a whole new ballgame. Unlike most income streams where you get paid each month, your maintenance loan is delivered in three lump sums, usually near the start of each academic term.

This means each payment has to last you a couple of months; and whilst you are able to top this up with income from part-time jobs or financial assistance from family members, being reckless with your maintenance payment when it first comes into your bank account can leave you feeling short just a few weeks later.

Here are some of my top tips on how to make your maintenance loan go as far as possible! :biggrin:

1) Make Note of Your Payment Dates and Create a Weekly Budget
You'd think this one would be obvious - but you'd be surprised how many people don't! Making note of the exact dates your maintenance payments will be paid into your bank account allows you to create a much more accurate budget - you can calculate how many weeks a certain payment needs to last you before the next one comes in, and then you can divide up that lump sum to give you a weekly total. Obviously you're going to have weeks where you might come over- or under-budget depending on your circumstances or schedule, and that's to be expected - but having a rough idea of a weekly total helps minimise unnecessary spending day-to-day.

2) Account For Big Expenses Immediately
Unfortunately, your maintenance loan isn't just leisurely spending money - you'll likely have to use it to pay rent, bills and groceries. The moment your loan comes in, set aside the money for any large expenses (e.g. rent), perhaps by transferring into a different account. This way you won't feel tempted to spend over your means, and you'll feel a lot more prepared when bills do come your way.

3) Follow the 24-Hour Rule
If you're an impulse buyer, this one might be a bit tricky - but it will definitely be useful! If you have a bit of leeway in your maintenance loan to spend on something you want, whether that's a new top or an expensive water bottle, wait 24 hours before purchasing it. If you still think it's worth the price 24 hours later and can both a) afford it and b) genuinely want it, it might be a worthwhile buy - but for most potential purchases, you'll probably have completely forgotten about it by that point!

4) Shop Around!
With maybe the exception of groceries, most items you see in stores can now be found online at significantly cheaper prices; and whilst supporting the high street is important, when you're working on a tight student budget it might not be all that feasible! Always Google any item you're about to buy to see if it can be found elsewhere for cheaper - you'll be surprised how much money you can save. :smile:

What are your top tips for managing your maintenance loan? Do you feel like you need a part-time job to keep on top of it?

- Eve (Kingston Rep.)
Thank you for this Eve

My general advice on finances would be that if you don't have the maximum maintenance loan, this is because the government assumes your family are contributing financially - so make sure that they are. Generally, I would be asking them to top you up to the maximum maintenance loan amount: as this is how much the government think you need to afford to live at university. And depending on where you are in the country this might leave you with a fair amount to put away each year too.

Quick Reply