Calculating your rate


New Member
WOW.....I am just starting and the whole "figuring out the hourly" has me in a frenzy. My husband is full time employed, and doing pretty ok. So this is something we hope to BUILD together. But I never considered that GIANT percentage taken by the govt. Thank you so much for that!! (PS....I don't even know how to "PM" yet, took me a second to figure out what that was. But I am very interested in any further number-crunching you have to offer.) Thanks again!
Most people when they first decide to self contract don't realize how much more expensive taxes, health insurance and days off can be. I'm glad I found this post! I will be using it to calculate my rates. Thank you!

The Perfect Word

Community Leader
I agree 100% that we need to include the value we bring to the client when we price our rates. But I also think we need to include our experience, expenses, etc. I wrote a blog post on this recently as well, which mentions using this great hourly rate calculator that I originally found on a VAF blog post by The Brainy Gal (Lisa McDonnell).

And if a big part of your marketing focus is on local clients, I do believe you have to consider what others in your area are charging. Just like any local business, if you're priced higher than your competition it's hard to get clients; if you're priced lower you run the risk of not getting good clients! (In the last year or so I've noticed from the calls I get that many businesses and individuals are wanting to stick with local businesses to support what is in the local area.) If your focus is more national (or international), then I don't believe what is being charged locally is as big of an issue.


New Member
Lisa- I love that article you wrote. I am in the planning phase currently and I actually thought about starting with a lower rate and then increasing with more experience. You are correct, why would they want to pay more after paying less initially? Also, I have a lot of great experience to bring to clients regardless if it's my first client or my 30th. Thank you for sharing!


I may be a little late on this thread, but Office Goddess's template is great! This would be a good tool for a lot of service oriented start ups.


New Member
I'm glad you did this. My rates were just a ballpark of where I figured I would need them to be to make it profitable. I didn't realize that you factored EVERYTHING else in too. But since I don't do this full time sometimes I forget that this is someones sole source of income, and that at some point I hope it's mine too. I never broke it down like that before though. This gave me a lot to think about, and that maybe my rate is too low O.O
This actually helped me quite a lot. I realized that I was actually charging the right rate (go figure), but checked other VA sites and raised my rate a little to have the going rate instead.
I found this budgeting calculator at It outlines all your possible expenses calculated against income. Still have not found one for monthly or biweekly retainer rates cost calculator for VA's.

Monthly Budget Calculator

Income Salary/Wages: Other: Expenses Housing (mortgage/rent): Utilities (gas/electric/water/garbage): Phone (landline and cell phones): TV (cable or satellite/movie subscriptions): Internet: Food (groceries and eating out): Gas: Family Expenses (day care/tuition/activities/child support/alimony): Personal Care (hair cuts/toiletries/clothing): Pets (food/vet/grooming): Entertainment (books and mags/movies/hobbies): Insurance (car/home/life/disability/health/dental): Debt Repayment (credit cards/car loans/home equity/student loans): Property Tax (if not included in mortgage): Emergency Fund: Retirement Savings: College Savings: Savings Towards a Goal (buy a house or car/go on vacation): Gifts/Charitable Donations (including tithes): Other:



New Member
This is so helpful for me to figure out what I should be charging!! I am also doing some local research to see what is reasonable in my area so I can find a good compromise.


New Member
Wow! That calculation and explanation really puts it into perspective. Makes me really think about what rate(s) I should charge and to make sure I'm not cutting myself shorty by offering lower rates.


New Member
Very detailed explanation of how rates should be structured!

I am not sure that some aspects have actual application in my country (where there is no legal framework for virtual work and it's nowhere recongized as a job), but overall it's something that with a bit of alteration could definitely work for many non-us citizens.

Thanks for sharing !


This is very informative! I am working on calculating fees and expenses for my own business and your budget is a tremendous help.


New Member
Is a 30% profit a realistic expectation for a new VA? I guess it depends on the market but if you're competing with markets that offer services at a much lower rate are there any suggestions out there?


New Member
This is a great tool and very helpful. I never took all of these equations into consideration. Thank you so much for sharing.