One of the most frustrating aspects of the requirement to wear masks in public is that it becomes very hard to recognize people. In the last few weeks, I have received calls and emails from friends who said they saw me in a certain place and I didn’t respond to their head nod or wave. About a month ago, a client who I hadn’t seen in person for a few year, walked into my office wearing a mask. She was in town and decided to pop over and say hi. I literally had no idea who it was. I apologized profusely and explained that with the mask “I just am not 100% sure who you are.” She gave me her name and then we both started laughing. On the other hand, if you are looking for anonymity, the mask works wonders. After not having shaven for the three weeks leading to and including the solemn Tisha Be’av fast, I decided, after being dared by my son, to leave hair just on my chin. Then more of my kids got in on the action, and some dared me to go out in public with my little chin goatee. I said that’s it’s no problem because I’ll just wear my mask and no one will be the wiser. And, in fact, I went around for a full 24 hours before shaving it off because I had a meeting. While it may not be a coronavirus mask, all too often we hide behind some kind of covering and refuse to come clean of our financial situation. I just watched a news report on how kids don’t have computers, and will be unable to learn on Zoom when school opens in a few days. While my heart goes out to the kids, you see that they own a huge flat screen TV, among other possessions. If your child’s education really is important, how about buying a more modest TV and buy a computer with the savings? Sort of ironic that in their need to get their child a laptop, their own financial mask was removed, and we all got a glimpse into some bad financial decision making. There is no need to buy the “best” new computer; a refurbished laptop can do the job just fine for a fraction of the cost. While it’s easy to play the part of a victim, and have some generous stranger buy a brand new top-of-the-line computer, the fact is that even the child himself could have spent 10-20 minutes a day collecting deposit bottles and made enough money over the summer to buy their own laptop.What many people don’t realize is that you really can change your financial future.How can you take control of your finances and become financially empowered? It’s not as hard as you think. You don’t need to be rich in order to be financially independent – in reality, you just need to be able to cover your expenses with your income, while accounting for each expense, and managing to save as well. If you scale down your lifestyle, you can achieve independence on much more modest sums of money than you ever dreamed was possible. Here are some tips that can help get you on the path to financial empowerment.Target dateIt’s important to set a realistic date for when you’d like to be financially independent. As a guide for how much money you will need in the future, I like to tell clients that they need about 20 years worth of this year’s expense to make it. For example, if you spend $30,000 a year, you will need $600,000. Now keep in mind that any pension, bituah leumi, or social security income that you will receive will lower the overall amount that you need. If you receive $20,000 a year in retirement income, then you will need another $10,000 as supplemental income, which means you would only need around $200,000 in savings in order to be independent.Allow your money to workYou need to make saving and investing a priority. Make a habit of “paying yourself first” every month. Balancing your budget maybe the first step to becoming empowered but in order to secure your financial future you will need to invest as well. By allowing the money to work for you, you actually will have to invest a lot less over time. Let’s take that $200,000 goal. To actually put away in the bank that amount of money could take decades. But if you start investing over 15-20 years, you will need to actually save less than half the amount. That’s the beauty of compounding investment returns.Jump inYou don’t need to start with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Start small if needed but just start. The earlier you start saving, the bigger nest egg you should be able to accumulate over the long-term.It’s time to stop hiding, get real and start your journey to become financially empowered.The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates.The writer is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.