How to Manage Retainers on FreshBooks?

It is usually difficult to plan your finances when time is unpredictable, but both aspects can be managed more efficiently with Retainers on FreshBooks. Bill your clients with a fixed amount and keep track of how much time you spend on the job.

What if a project takes longer than anticipated? No problem, you can charge your client with the extra hours of hard work. You will find several options when creating a Retainer to make payments convenient for both you and your client.

However, being the user-friendly software that it is, FreshBooks does make it easy to forget about your Retainers. Knowing that your invoices are being automatically sent and your time is tracked, that tab may be forgotten.

But there are a few things you can do after you creating a Retainer to stay on track.

Unfortunately, you cannot add or keep track of your Retainers on the FreshBooks app.

So start by logging into your FreshBooks account on your mobile or desktop web browser.

Head to the Invoices tab (4th icon – quill pen & paper) and click on ‘Retainers‘.

Overview of All Retainers

Have a quick look on your list of Retainers along with the:

  • Client’s Name (every client has only one retainer, you cannot add multiple ones to a client)
  • The number of invoices remaining
  • The date of the upcoming invoice (to be automatically sent or saved in your invoice draft)
  • Total amount per Retainer period
  • Total revenue accumulated so far
  • Status of Retainer: active or inactive

You can also check out your ‘Archived‘ or ‘Deleted‘ Retainers (at the bottom of the page).


If you want to learn more about creating a Retainer, check out What’s a Retainer on FreshBooks?

Click on one of your Retainers to view more details:

Summary of Client’s Retainer

How much time is remaining in your budget? How many days left for the Retainer period? What is the total revenue expected for this Retainer?

You will find all these details written and displayed on a graph.
To learn more, check out How to Add a Client and Manage Clients on FreshBooks


At the bottom, you will find several tabs to further manage your Retainer:

1. Invoices

Here you can see an overview of the total invoices created so far, along with their issued and due date. The status of the invoice will indicate whether it is ‘sent‘ to your client or saved in your ‘drafts‘.

You can also click on any Invoice for further details.

2. Time Entries

This section will show you all time entries and their total hours recorded for the Retainer.

To add a new one, you have two options:

  • Option 1: While you’re on the same tab , press on the green β€˜+’ icon next to β€˜All Time Entries’, and choose β€˜Start Timer’ or β€˜Add Time Entry’.
  • Option 2: go to the Time Tracking feature (the clock icon on the left sidebar), add a new entry for the same client, and then check the box for β€œApply to Retainer”.

If you want to learn about the Time Tracking feature, you can check out What’s Time Tracking on FreshBooks?

3. Projects

Even though you can only have one Retainer per client, you can definitely add several projects under it.

Keep everything organized in one place, and assign your projects to a Retainer by pressing on the green ‘+’ sign next to ‘All Projects for this Retainer’.

Depending on your business agreement for each project, you can choose to charge a flat rate or by the hour.

Learn more on How to Create a Project and Manage Projects on FreshBooks.

4. Report

After time, Retainers can become confusing and difficult to keep track. That is why you are able to extract a detailed work summary for any Retainer.


The report includes:

  • Total Hours recorded (used)
  • Total Hours set for the Retainer
  • Details on each time entry with the specified service provided.

You can print and download the report as a PDF by clicking on ‘More Actions’ at the top of the report. Or you can press on ‘Send’ to email it directly to your client.

So, no need freak out every time a client asks you for an updated report; it can be created and shared within a minute.

If you want to see other Retainer reports as well, head to the settings icon on the right and a filter sidebar will pop up. You can choose the client and period you want to preview.

Now you can set clear expectations with your clients using Retainers to run a professional and a profitable business.

Learn other features on FreshBooks and stay on top of your finances:

How to Add Payments on FreshBooks
How to Create a Proposal on FreshBooks
What’s the Difference Between Estimate and Proposal on FreshBooks
How to Add Credit on FreshBooks
How to Create an Invoice on FreshBooks
What’s Other Income on FreshBooks
How to Add a Team Member on FreshBooks