I used to struggle and sweat over trying to pick up the number of stitches a pattern gives. Then I went to a good finishing class and the teacher said forget that and pick up the number that want to be picked up. That is what Sue was saying.
I find if I use a needle 2 sizes smaller than the gauge needle for the bands that I usually need to pick up (up the front) 1,2,3, skip. Recently I did a sweater where I used my gauge needle and I did 1,2 skip and that worked. Doing it this way usually makes it pretty easy to get the same number on each side (sometimes I have to fudge 1 or 2 stitches on the second band). This sure is freeing after trying to force a certain number that didn’t seem to be working.
This also works for the neckband. I like to pick up the same number on each side, but I let my first side determine how many that is by doing the same way Sue gave. Anything that is straight up and down or slanted use the skipping rule and if there are live stitches or bound off stitches (back neck) pick up stitch (or knit across- for live stitches) for stitch. Occasionally they will want you to dec in the back neck a st or 2.