Generate, Send and Receive Retainers/Service Retainer

I have some great clients that all but require me to allow them to pre-pay for my services. It is easier for them and right now is perfect for me (love the cash flow). However the one area I have been struggling with Invoice Ninja is this exact thing. Retainers.

The best way I can think to describe what I want is “legal retainers” where you pay a lawyer X amount and they bill services against that until the balance is $0 and you pay them another.

So far I have come-up with a way that sort of works, but from my understanding leaves things “messy” from the paper-trail point of view.


  1. create pre-paid retainer quote/invoice in Invoice Ninja to be sent to Client for processing in their Accounting System
  2. Track the process from quote to revenue in Invoice Ninja
  3. Apply future invoices against the retainer

What I have figured out so far, but not complete since it leaves some "left-overs"

  1. Create Quote for Client: call it “Service Retainer” {done form: Quotes section of Invoice Ninja}
  2. Send to Client for Approval {done from: Quotes section of Invoice Ninja}
  3. Client Approves and sends payment (check/ACH/whatever) {done from: Client Portal/Email/Whatever}
  4. [???what do I do with the Quote?; leave it alone, covert to invoice and do something with Credits???]
  5. I create a payment for the amount client {in Payments section of Invoice Ninja}
  6. Generate and apply future invoices to that payment {in Invoice and Payments section of Invoice Ninja}

So I am stuck on what to do with that Quote, I don’t want to leave it hanging out there, it would be nice to track Quote to $$.

I’d love some direction or links to others, couldn’t find much on Google/YouTube.

Thank you for any direction or help. Cheers.


When the client approves the quote it can be automatically converted to an invoice.

@david any thoughts on how to best handle this?

I am stuck on thinking I need to use Credits, but that’s where I get all jumbled, I thought I had it figured out but then ended up with negative balances on the credit when I don’t apply an invoice that takes up the whole retainer.

Retainers just sits out side our current scope i think.

I think a possible solution here is to create a Payment that is unapplied for the total, and then apply these amounts to subsequent invoices as they are generated.

So the workflow would be:

  1. Retainer Invoice (single or recurring) for $x
  2. On payment creates an unapplied payment for $x

Until this functionality could be built out, the only way to achieve the same result would take a bit of manual work and would not be that nice of a workflow ie.

  1. Generate invoice / recurring invoice for retainer amount.
  2. On payment, DELETE the associated invoice + payment and create a new Payment for that amount which is unapplied.