Research has found 20% of Scots men and women have no savings at all, while 1.4 million people, one-third of the country's adult population, are not currently putting anything away.
The Scottish Widows' savings and investment report shows a "bleak picture" of people's ability to cope with future financial shocks.
Of the 63% who are saving, more than one-third (35%) have put away less than £1000.
Scottish Widows said this amount barely covers the average total monthly cost of mortgage and council tax payments of £870.
The report also found 29% of respondents with families have loaned "a substantial amount" to children, often to help them meet daily living expenses.
Support is also provided for higher education and buying property, with parents giving an average loan of almost £14,000, the annual report said.
The majority of parents who answered (64%) opted to help their children get on the housing ladder, while 21% said they would prefer to contribute to university fees.
Over one-fifth of those lending money have cut back on their own savings, while 6% have stopped putting any money away.
The report also showed that on average grand-parents in Scotland have lent £700 to their grand- children and 9% of people have loaned an average £1477 to a sibling.
More than one-quarter (28%) of respondents said they have been forced to cut back on their savings by rising costs, and a further one-quarter are saving less than two years ago, mainly due to a lower level of disposable income.