Should I set up a standard, recurring, or retainer invoice?

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Harvest has three types of invoices: standard, recurring, and retainer. Here are the differences and how best to use each type.

Standard Invoices

Standard invoices can be created based on tracked time and expenses or on fixed fees, or as a free-form invoice.

Invoices based on tracked time and expenses will pull timesheet data and/or expenses from billable projects for the client and timeframe you specify. 

An invoice based on a fixed fee will use the project's total fee on the invoice. You can invoice for the fixed fee all at once, or you can invoice a portion of the fixed fee. Invoicing for a portion of the fee can be made easier using the Project Context [link to project context article]. 

Free-form invoices start as a blank page for you to enter data manually. These invoices will not use any tracked data or fees from your projects.

Recurring Invoices

Recurring invoices allow you to create a free-form invoice that will generate on the interval that you specify—daily, weekly, quarterly, yearly, or a custom date period. Instances of a recurring invoice can be automatically sent to the client or saved as a draft that you can review or edit before sending.

Recurring invoices are best used for products or services that are billed cyclically (weekly, monthly, etc.) and when those products and services do not need a reconciliation against a number of hours worked.

Retainer Invoices

When a client pays for part of a project in advance and those funds have to later be reconciled against the work that has been done, then it’s best to use a retainer invoice to start the project.

Once a retainer has a balance recorded in Harvest, when a project (or phase of a project) is complete, you can create a standard invoice based on project hours and expenses or a fixed fee, and Harvest will give you the option to apply the retainer balance towards that invoice.

If the total amount of the invoice exceeds the retainer funds available, then the remaining balance will be reflected on the invoice. You can then send the invoice with the outstanding balance to the client. If the retainer funds exceed the amount of the invoice, then the balance will stay in the retainer and can be applied to a future invoice.

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