Nikki Munson
This entry is mostly focused on client projects. For internal projects, expenses should simply be approved by the Strategist. Internal projects with significant expenses should have budgets determined when the project is approved.

For the most part, we try to ensure that project-related expenses are paid directly by the client. Managing expenses is logistically challenging and takes time. Many expenses are recurring or repeatable. The easiest solution is for the client to either purchase required resources themselves, or to provide credit card information we can use.

However, it sometimes makes sense for Cantilever to handle certain expenses. For example, some clients have trouble running expenses through their billing system, and it’s much easier for them if we invoice for the expensed cost ourselves.

When clients prefer for us to handle recurring costs, we charge a service fee. This is because each month our finance department has to process and submit the cost for reimbursement on our invoice, which takes time.

For any reimbursable expenses incurred during a project, the PM is responsible for making the purchase. They must then submit the expense to Finance for future invoicing to the client that day (so that Finance team doesn’t have to hunt down an unknown charge). See:

At the end of a project, it’s a good idea to look back at any expenses incurred during the project and ensure that they have all been correctly accounted for. As a PM, you should know all the relevant expenses and ensure they end up on the client’s invoices.

Handling Expenses

The Diagnostic team should try to identify as many of the potential expenses as possible in the diagnostic report and make sure they are noted in the SOW. Sometimes, unforeseen expenses will also occur.

When we are ready to incur an expense, the PM should make sure to get final permission from the client, regardless of whether the expense was expected. If the expense was unexpected, the PM should make sure to be extra sensitive with the client to ensure that they are comfortable with it and they know if there are alternatives to incurring the expense. For example, we may decide that we recommend a certain paid font vs. using a free font. Don‘t just say “Hey, is it cool if we buy this font?” Give the client context for why you are recommending this and what their options are of they do not want to say Yes.

Double-check any expense amounts thoroughly before reporting them to the client. If we get the client to approve a $100 expense and then find out we actually need something that costs $500, that will cause friction for the client’s experience. If a junior designer or dev is the one providing the information about how much something will cost, sometimes it’s worth it to have a senior designer/dev double-check that the planned expense will indeed satisfy the full need we are addressing. Senior people have seen more shit go wrong and may be able to identify when an expense would be insufficient.


Fonts are uniquely difficult to expense because there are several subscription-based font services, and we can use some to serve multiple clients. Most prominently, Adobe fonts and Typography.com.

For Adobe fonts, the client should provide us with a Creative Cloud account to generate font packages with. Same for Typography.com. Do not use Cantilever accounts to create font bundles.

Internal Expenses

Sometimes, in the course of a project we will incur an expense which is not really client-specific. For example, we may need to upgrade Sketch to a new version. We don‘t invoice for these kinds of expenses. Instead, they should be handled with the normal internal expense procedure:

Subscription Charges for Clients