How to Fix Recurring Invoices in Harvest


Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks

For a solo entrepreneur, tracking time and invoicing is vital. If you don’t record the number of hours you spend on a project, you can’t bill for them. Fortunately, there are plenty of SaaS tools to help. My own choice is Harvest, because it lets me track client time by project using a cell phone, as well as generate invoices and get paid using PayPal at a reduced rate.

Like most accounting programs, Harvest can handle recurring invoices. The recurring invoices are easy to set up, and the software is flexible about setting their frequency.

Creating a Recurring Invoice From an Existing Invoice

However, not everything a consultant or contractor does is based on clock time. Some clients have items that need to be billed regularly. Unfortunately, Harvest is less flexible with individual line items. Every line item entered on a recurring invoice appears on every new invoice.

For example, I bill several clients on a monthly or quarterly basis. But there are some items that I only need to charge for on an annual basis, such as software licensing.

I have a simple kludge to work around this issue.

Create the recurring invoice with all recurring line items entered, regardless of the frequency. I generally use a top-down approach, with shorter intervals entered above longer intervals.

An Invoice With Different Line Item Frequencies

I also include the interval in the line item description. For monthly or quarterly items, I just use the appropriate term. For annual items, I include the fiscal calendar on which the item is based. For example, if the software license needs to renew every April, the description says, “Online Backup Annual License — July – June.”

Adding the Frequency to the Line Item

When Harvest creates the recurring invoice as a Draft invoice, I edit the draft and delete the line items that do not need to be included.

Finding the Edit Invoice Button

A quick peek at the line item description tells me what to delete. In the previous example, I would delete the license line item every month except in June.

Deleting a Line Item

There are two negative aspects to this kludge that I have not worked out:

  • You cannot use the auto-email feature to direct Harvest to send out the invoice for you automatically.
  • If you need to include billable time, your only options are to send two separate invoices or to delete the draft invoice and recreate it from scratch.

The positive for me is, I get my virtual assistant to handle all of my invoicing for me.

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