The rules of a no-buy challenge are self-imposed and simple: list the non-essential items you won’t spend money on for a set period and stick to it. Easier said than done.

Many people start such challenges at the beginning of the year and commit until the end of it. But any time can be the right time for those looking to tackle credit card debt, declutter their homes, or spend less time shopping. Some participants begin with a no-spend month.

“I commend anyone who realizes they’re just buying too much because North America is very consumer-focused and there’s too much waste,” said Carrie Rattle, CEO of financial coaching company Behavioral Cents.

Thinking of what you’d be better off without? Here are some recommendations from experts and people already participating in the challenge.

Identify Your Weaknesses

Whether it’s makeup, takeout food, or unnecessary trinkets, knowing your vulnerabilities will help you make a realistic plan.

Before starting her no-buy year, Mia Westrap, a Ph.D. student in Southampton, England, reviewed her previous spending.

“I figured out that I was spending four figures on just carbonated drinks and Pepsi Max,” she said.

Make Your Own Rules

One of the benefits of a no-buy challenge is that there are no set rules. You choose what to include and exclude.

Amea Wadsworth, 22, from San Diego, used to spend hours looking at clothes and knickknacks at Target and Goodwill. After moving back home post-college, she realized how many things she had accumulated.

“When I have those decluttering moments and look through all my stuff, I find things I spent a lot of money on but never used,” Wadsworth said.

For her challenge, she decided not to buy new clothing items and prioritized spending on experiences with loved ones. She also started by doing the challenge month by month.

Writing down rules that fit your needs can help you stay on track. It’s also fine to tweak them as you go.

Take a Pause

Finances are very connected to emotions, which can drive unnecessary purchases. When Wadsworth feels the impulse to buy something she sees on social media or in a store, she writes it down instead of buying it immediately.

At the end of the month, she reviews the list and decides what, if anything, is worth buying.

“I look back and see how many things I wrote down and think, ‘I’m glad I didn’t buy that because I really didn’t need it,’” Wadsworth said.

If you impulse buy, writing down potential purchases and giving yourself time to consider their utility can be helpful.

Unsubscribe and Unfollow

Between pop-up promotions and influencers showcasing new merchandise, social media can trigger unnecessary shopping, according to Courtney Alev, a consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma.

If screen time is compounding your overspending habit, Alev recommends taking a break from following accounts that trigger spending urges.

Be Gentle with Yourself

When Westrap began her no-buy year, she felt like the universe was conspiring against her. Her car broke down one month, and the next, she received an expensive fine for an overdue parking ticket. Unexpected expenses or weak moments happen to everyone, and it’s OK if you don’t follow your no-buy year rules perfectly. The effort matters.

“If you fail, you probably need a bit more help. You are not a failure. You have simply failed at one method,” Rattle said. “And that’s really important because I don’t want people to feel dejected.”

Building a new habit and managing your finances can be difficult. Be gentle with yourself during the process.