NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Whether it's Hurricane Sandy's aftermath or fiscal-cliff fears, Americans are inclined to make 2013 the year of saving for a rainy day. According to a survey by TheStreet, having an emergency fund is among many people's New Year's resolutions.

When asked what they will most actively be saving for in the coming year, the No. 1 response was an emergency fund. Home improvements or new furnishings came second, followed by children's or grandchildren's education.

Joseph Clark, a managing partner at Financial Enhancement Group, says the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy may make people think about the unexpected. The effects of a fiscal-cliff deal -- higher taxes among them -- could stifle spending.

"You don't borrow for an emergency fund," Clark says. "You have to save."

Clark says he started seeing a shift in how people manage their finances in the first quarter of 2009. The financial crisis and the housing downturn have taught many Americans the harsh lessons of living in a society of immediate gratification -- where people merely borrowed and then attempted to pay down debt.

"Having endured the worst financial crisis in memory, people are inclined to change their behaviors to offset the odds that they will have to face that hardship again," says Harrison Lazarus, a financial consultant and founder of Harrison Lazarus Advisors.


Will people save less in 2013 if they suddenly have more money? Apparently not.

When TheStreet asked what they would do if they won $1 million in the lottery tomorrow, more than 60% of respondents said they would save three-quarters or more of their winnings.

Eve Kaplan, a financial adviser with Kaplan Financial Advisors in Central New Jersey, argues there is some disconnect between how people respond -- what they think they should be doing or how they want to appear -- and what they actually do.

It's a fact that immediate wealth creates mass spending, but the way the respondents answered the question shows how saving is in fashion today. Kaplan believes the aging population has a lot to do with this -- the first baby boomers are already retired. She says more Americans are now convinced that that they could no longer retire comfortably at age 55 or 62.

"There are more articles talking about working longer, having post-retirement careers, etc. People are seeing their parents live into their 90s, which scares some of them, too," Kaplan says. Incidentally, 634 of the 1,000 people who took the survey were 50 years old and above.

If the respondents would indeed save three-quarters or more of their lottery winnings, how would they save or invest the money?

According to the results, 56% would choose to play it safe and invest their winnings in a savings account; and 44% would contribute to an IRA or retirement savings plan.

So what are you saving for in 2013? How will you save or invest the money? Click on the comments link and tell us what you're thinking.

Survey Methodology:
The survey was conducted November 30-December 2, 2012, by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications on behalf of Random digit dialing telephone interviews were completed with 1,006 adults 18 years old or older. The raw data were weighted by a custom designed computer program that automatically developed a weighting factor for each respondent, employing five variables: age, sex, education, race and geographic region. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points on the full sample.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.