Some 15 million Britons - almost a third of the population - are living on a "financial precipice" with no money put aside for the future, a report has warned.
The tough economy and the need to help other family members struggling with high living costs means few are managing to put away anything in savings.
Some 31% of people are failing to save any cash at all, according to the Savings and Investment report by Scottish Widows.
And of the two-thirds of people who are managing to add to their nest eggs, some 32% said they had less than £1,000 put away - not even enough to pay someone's average mortgage and council tax costs for a month - the report said
One quarter of the 5,000 people surveyed who have families said they had given loans to their children.
Parents said that they had handed out loans averaging £15,000 to help their sons and daughters buy their first home or go to university.
A quarter of mums and dads said this had forced them to cut back on their own savings, while one in 12 said this had stopped them saving altogether.
Older generations are also feeling the strain, with grandparents lending £3,665 on average to their grandchildren, the report found.
Two-thirds of people said that a general lack of any spare cash is holding back their ability to save.
As well as rising living costs such as food, energy bills, rents and petrol making life harder for savers, rates on savings accounts have been plummeting in recent months, meaning they face an even tougher struggle to make any real returns.
Iain McGowan, head of savings and investments at Scottish Widows, said: "When we are faced with immediate financial commitments, such as mortgage payments and day-to-day living expenses, then it is absolutely necessary to give these pressing needs priority.
"However, taking a wholly short-term view of our finances will mean we are unprepared for the financial needs and challenges that lie ahead in the future."
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