Six million Britons - 13% of the adult population - have no savings to help them through the recession, according to a new survey of personal finances.
And it found that incomes have become so squeezed that one in three has too little cash to cope with an emergency.
On average people in Britain set aside £100.24, or 8.3%, of their income each month, according to research by state-owned lender NS&I. A quarter expect they will save less during the next three months.
Just 26% of people set themselves a savings goal, with men saving a little more than women in line with earnings.
The most frequent reasons savers cited for doing so were holiday (37%); house (35%); retirement (21%); car (21%) and children (19%).