We’re excited to announce that you can now manage retainers in Harvest. Here’s a short video of how the feature works:

Create Your First Retainer

  1. Go to the new Invoices > Retainers section.
  2. Click on Create Retainer
  3. Fill out your retainer invoice like a normal invoice.
  4. The payment you record on the retainer invoice will be saved into the retainer funds.

Invoice and Draw From Your Retainer

To invoice the client your hours and draw from the retainer, simply create an invoice for the project hours, like you normally would. Harvest will show you a list of retainers to draw from – all you need to do is to choose the retainer, and Harvest will automatically draw from the funds and update the retainer balance.

What is a Retainer, Anyway?

A retainer basically works like a deposit for future invoices. The tricky part is: the money you receive for a retainer/deposit is not an income (yet). The money becomes income later, after you put in the work.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you and I are on a retainer agreement. You invoice me for a $5,000 deposit, and I write you a check for that amount. That $5,000 should not be counted as an income in your books. Now let’s say you work for 20 hours for me in July, and you invoice me for those 20 hours – which comes to $2,000. You will then draw from the retainer amount I paid you, producing:

  • An invoice for the $2,000, and a $2,000 draw from the retainer. So the invoice should have a $0 balance.
  • An income of $2,000 from this invoice.
  • A balance of $3,000 left in the retainer.

Some of our customers have asked for an initial deposit for new projects – and you can use this new retainer feature for that purpose by creating that initial invoice as a new retainer invoice.

We have heard from many customers who need to track retainers and deposits, and we’re really excited about this new feature. We know that many of you are also looking for a way to track monthly retainers, and we will look to implement that as well, in the near future.  As always, don’t hesitate to share your feedback and suggestions with us.