Good Day Alabama: Jan 26, 2016

Good Day Alabama: Jan 26, 2016

Here's what you saw on Good Day Alabama:

JEH JEH LIVE - "Hearts for Horizons" is the largest fundraiser for The Horizons School on Birmingham's Southside. The team raises money by asking for corporate and individual sponsors as students participate in the Mercedes Marathon SuperHero 5K on Saturday, February 13 at 8 a.m. in front of Boutwell Auditorium.  The Horizons School team can accept corporate sponsors until this Thursday and additional team members can register through Sunday. Team members will enjoy a delicious Pasta Dinner on Friday evening February 12 hosted by Taziki's.  The Horizons School serves students who may have learning disabilities, Autism or other disabling conditions. They learn how to become independent, productive young adults. Students come from around the country and are between the ages of 18-26. For more info, call the school at 205-322-6606 or check out the website at

ASK THE ANGLER - Reed Montgomery answers viewer questions about fishing. You can contact him with your questions at 205-663-1504 or on his website - there you can find lake reports, fishing tips, upcoming events, and more.

WINTER RESTAURANT WEEK - With the great success of the past six years, REV Birmingham is pleased to announce an expanded version of Birmingham Restaurant Week to include the first Winter Restaurant Week, presented by Regions Bank. The culinary event runs through Sunday. Like the August BRW, local restaurants offer special two and/or three-course prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus for $5, $10, $20 or $30 per person during Winter Restaurant Week. Since 2010, BRW has celebrated the city's acclaimed culinary culture by offering incentives for Birmingham-area residents to revisit their favorite restaurants or experience recently opened venues for the first time. For more information about Winter Restaurant Week 2016 visit

BETH K - People often point the finger at fast food as one the major culprits in the increase in obesity. But a lot of studies show that fast food is not a loner when it comes to increasing waistlines. Eating out, in general, may pack on the pounds. Because of this, new laws are making fast food and other restaurant chains with stores greater than 20 put calories on the menus. But what about those smaller restaurants that aren't large chains? We don't know their foods' calorie counts because they don't have to show it. But are they just as bad when it comes to high-calorie courses? Well, some researchers just published a study that starts to answer that question. And it's a really good study. The study objective: To compare the calories in frequently ordered meals in non-chain restaurants in three US locations to the calories in meals from large-chain restaurants. The researchers analyzed meals from restaurants in San Francisco, Boston, and Little Rock between 2011 and 2014. They analyzed the meals using a highly accurate laboratory method called calorimetry. They analyzed meals from a variety of ethnic restaurants including American, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Greek, Thai, and Japanese. They analyzed a total of 364 meals. Now remember, these were meals from smaller restaurants where calorie counts are not available. Also, remember that one of the goals of the study was to compare the calories in the small restaurant meals to those from chain restaurants where menu calorie counts are available. So let's start with taking a look at the calorie breakdown. American, Chinese and Italian restaurants topped the list when it came to high-calorie meals. Take a look at the average calories of meals in these types of restaurants.  Keep in mind that the average woman needs about 2000 calories a day and the average man, 2500 calories.

Average Meal Calories by Type of Restaurant:
American: 1451 calories
Chinese: 1478 calories
Italian: 1556 calories
Greek, Vietnamese, and Japanese all came in under 1000 calories for their average meals. Let's take a look at which dishes packed in the most calories - Highest Calories Meals:
Ribeye Steak: 1726 calories
General Tso's Chicken: 1894 calories
Fettucine Alfredo: 1754 calories
Now, these are averages with some of the same types of meals from different cities at different restaurants coming in below these numbers– but that means others came in above this! When the researchers compared these numbers to chain restaurants, they found that the calories were pretty similar. The problem is, with these smaller restaurants that don't have to show calorie counts, you don't know what you're getting.
If you don't eat out often, these numbers may not affect you much. But what can you do if you like to eat out? Here are a few tips - Eating out tips:
•      Share entrees and desserts
•      Ask for a To Go Box
•      Choose entrees that aren't fried more often
•      Eat at home more often
•      Choose foods without heavy cream sauces more often
•      Go easy on salad dressings, bacon and cheese on your salad
•      Go heavy on vegetables that aren't fried or in sauces

MONEY TUESDAY - Companies with 401k plans are increasingly offering employees a Roth investment option in addition to the regular tax deductible 401k.  With the Roth option, you don't receive an income tax deduction and your money grows tax deferred just like your regular 401k investment.  However, at retirement, withdrawals from a Roth are tax-free, whereas regular 401k withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.  So what's the best way to go?  Is it better to get the tax deduction now and pay taxes during retirement or would you be better off skipping the tax deduction now and having your money come out tax-free during retirement? The key word here is taxes.  Even more important is understanding the difference between your marginal tax rate and your effective tax rate. Your marginal tax rate is the rate being paid on your last dollar of income.  For example, if your taxable income is $78,000 and you file a joint tax return, your marginal tax bracket is 25 percent.

This is because, for joint filers, income above $75,301 is taxed at 25 percent.  If you invest $1,000 in your 401k plan, your tax deduction is worth $250 in cold hard cash tax savings.  Your effective tax rate is the 'average' rate you paid on your taxable income.  For example, if your taxable income is $78,000, as a joint filer, you'll owe approximately $11,043 income taxes.  $11,403 is 14 percent of your $78,000 taxable income.  This 14 percent represents your effective income tax rate. The important distinction is that when deciding to invest, it's your marginal rate you want to pay attention to.  However, during retirement, it's your expected effective rate that matters.  Here's our rule of thumb: If your marginal tax rate is 25 percent or higher, we typically recommend the regular IRA…go ahead and take the tax deduction.  The reason is that we find many retirees are able to take money out of their retirement accounts at an effective tax rate of 15 percent.  Higher deduction as compared to a lower effective withdrawal tax rate equals a winning tax strategy. Therefore, if you're in the 15 percent or lower marginal tax rate, we typically recommend investing in a Roth. 
Details matter.  For example, in our example above, a joint filer with a taxable income of $78,000 who intends to invest $10,000 in her 401k should consider 'splitting' her contributions between regular 401k and ROTH 401k contributions.  By investing $2,700 in her regular 401k, the tax deduction will reduce her taxable income to $75,300 and save $675 in taxes which happens to be the upper threshold for the 15 percent marginal tax rate.  By investing the remaining $7,300 in her Roth 401k, that portion goes in at the 15 percent rate…no tax deduction but she didn't want a tax deduction at that lower rate.  She preferred to create a retirement fund that would never be subject to income tax.

One important advantage of a Roth is that if you don't use it during your retirement and you leave it to your spouse or children, they too will not be taxed on withdrawals.  A few final thoughts.  The perfect retiree is someone who has accumulated retirement savings in several different types of investment 'buckets'.  If you have money in a personal investment bucket; an IRA or 401k style bucket; and a Roth IRA bucket, you are able to significantly control your income taxes from year to year.  That's because you get to choose which buckets (and how much) to draw from for your cash flow needs.  For example, we had one client case where, for a particular reason, we didn't want to pay any income taxes.  We have managed to accomplish this goal for over fifteen years by carefully deciding from which buckets to draw his funds.

Tomorrow on Good Day Alabama, we talk animals.... From the Cat Show to our friends from the Birmingham Zoo to our veterinarian taking your questions, we've got you covered! Find out how to enhance your garden with some special projects in Good Day Gardening! Jeh Jeh checks out a special event going on at UAB. Join us for this and much more tomorrow on Good Day!