Nearly one in three households live hand-to-mouth according to new figures, while one in four are still paying off Christmas debts.
Around 15 million people are on a "financial precipice" with little or no savings, a survey of 5,000 people for pensions fund Scottish Widows found.
Thirty-one per cent of people surveyed said that they were not putting aside any savings at all, while 17 per cent - more than one in five - said they had no savings as it was.
And nearly a third of those who did have money to put aside had less than £1,000 in total, which is less than the combined average monthly mortgage and council tax bill.
The firm's head of savings Iain McGowan said that people were prioritising "absolutely necessary" payments like mortgages, rent and food, with any leftover cash used to pay down debts.
Its research coincided with new findings from the Co-operative Bank showing that a quarter of the working-age population was still in the red thanks to Christmas credit.
The survey of more than 2,000 people found two-thirds living on an average disposable income of just £192 over the entire month of February.
Respondents went over-budget by an average of £350 in December, with just one in 10 having paid it back by the end of January.
Meanwhile 22 per cent said they did not think they would be able to pay off 2012's debts for another year at least.
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