Thomas Gilmore finds the most effective budgeting strategy is looking ahead, whether that's a few months, or a few years.
"I look at, am I going to be underwater any time in the next year? Are there going to be any negative numbers for net income after savings?" he says. "If so, I have to go ahead and start cutting back on my spending or realigning my savings."
In fact, he looks ahead all the way through 2020, taking into account expected pay raises and fix costs, like his mortgage.
"I know I'm going to get at least a 3% raise every year, so I go ahead and put that out there," he says. "That way it's a more realistic number when I look at 2020. It's hard to predict more than five years out." He projects by five years, he continues, because "you're supposed to have your five-year goals — financial, personal, and professional."
See Gilmore's budget.