The average Brit has just £148 left in disposable income a month, or just £5 a day, after bills are paid, according to a new survey.
After essential payments like mortgages, rent and bills are made, people are left with just over 6% of the average take-home salary.
Some 61% of those surveyed said paying off their overdraft or credit card was also essential.
Impressively, 54% said they were still able to save or invest a small amount of cash each month. On average, those surveyed put aside £72 a month – almost half of their disposable income.
A quarter of people (25%) said they believe their financial situation is likely to get worse over the next three months.
Neil Lovatt, product director at Scottish Friendly, said: "There has been a transformation in the British mindset when it comes to managing finances.
"In the recent past, household budgets were very much driven by borrowing. However, the emphasis now seems to have gone full circle and we have returned to a post war emphasis on saving and paying down debt, despite many having to deal with a very tight budget."
Scottish Friendly's research comes as housing charity Shelter revealed that 3.8 million families only have enough money to pay their rent or mortgage for just one month if they lose their jobs.
Nearly half (44%) of working families with children under 18 said they could be one month away from homelessness if they were made unemployed because they have little or no savings, while 29% said they would be unable to afford to pay for their home immediately if they lost their income.
Liz Clare, a Shelter helpline adviser, said: "This research highlights how millions of us now find ourselves living on a financial knife-edge - month to month, paycheque to paycheque. Every day we see how just one piece of bad luck, like a sudden job loss or illness, could put the family home at risk.
"Sky-high housing costs and stagnating wages mean most of us don't have enough money in the bank to rely on for long enough to get back on our feet."