It's never too early to plan for our future, regardless of age or social stature.

Josh Makowiec, financial consultant with AXA Advisors, recently discussed financial planning strategies and asset management with the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce.

AXA Advisors is part of the international AXA Group, with over 6,000 financial professionals in local offices throughout the United States.

Makowiec said his company works primarily with investments, risk management, and comprehensive planning.

He said typical retirement concerns shared by individuals are if they'll have enough money when they retire, if retirement savings will last their lifetimes, and if they'll be able to maintain their lifestyle.

Makowiec then discussed two kinds of individual retirement plans: Traditional IRA, and Roth IRA.

Traditional IRA's, Makowiec said, are deductible (pre-tax); tax deferred; taxable income; a limit of $5,000 ($6,000 for those age 50-and-over); and may be accessed at the age of 59 1/2 years old.

Roth IRA's, he said, are nondeductible (after-tax); non taxable; include a tax fee; have a limit of $5,000 ($6,000 for those age 50-and-over); and may be accessed at the age of 59 1/2 (earnings) after five years (contributions).

Makowiec then informed the chamber of the 2010 Roth Conversion, whereby individuals have the ability to covert their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA regardless of income.

Other benefits associated with the Roth Conversion, he said, are that individuals have the ability to split their tax bill into two years (2011, 2012); include tax-free income in retirement; and come with no RMDs.

Next, Makowiec spoke about a pair of small business retirement plans: SEP. IRA, and SIMPLE IRA.

He said a SIMPLE IRA consists of a small business retirement plan for businesses with 100 or fewer employees funded by an employer, employer contributions and employee salary deferrals.

A SIMPLE IRA, Makowiec said, comes with tax advantages, contribution flexibility, other advantages, and better access.

Conversely, an SEP IRA, he said, is designed for self-employed people and small business owners, or an individual with employed income.

At the end of Makowiec's presentation, chamber President Peter Kern thanked him for the information he provided members with.