By the end of last year, 47% of people questioned for a major survey examining life in Scotland said they were in this position, up from 44% at the end of 2011, but still well below the peak of 55% that was reached in in 2007.
The number of Scots who described themselves as being in "deep financial trouble" doubled during last year, according to the Scottish Household Survey. This rose from 1% of those surveyed to 2% between January and June last year.
While 47% of households described themselves as managing well financially in 2012, 13% said they were not managing well, with the remaining 40% saying they were getting by.
However, 31% of single parents said they were not managing well financially, with a quarter of all single adults also in this situation.
Just over a quarter - 26% of those surveyed - did not have any savings or investment in 2012, with a further 15% having less than £1,000 put away.
The research found that "throughout 2012, the percentage of people who feel positively about their household finances has remained fairly stable at around 47%, following a dip to 44% at the end of 2011".
It added: "The proportion of respondents describing themselves as in 'deep financial trouble' has remained consistently low, around one per cent over the period that this question has been asked. However, it had increased to 2% between January and June 2012.
"Just less than one-third of single parent households (31%) say they are not managing well financially.
"One in four single adults also say they are not managing well while only 4% of older smaller households and 6% of single pensioners say this."
About 11,000 people are questioned on a range of issues for the annual study, which found that last year just under half - 48% - of adults were married, with less than 1% in a same-sex civil partnership while 35% have never been married or in a civil partnership.
Just over a third of all households - 34% - contain just one person, with 15% of all households comprising pensioners who live alone. Small families without children make up a third of all households.
Almost two-thirds of people - 63% of those surveyed - own their own home, down from 66% in 2009.
In 1999 just one in twenty households rented their home from a private landlord, with this rising to 13% by last year, while 45% of single parents and a third of all single adults live in either a council or housing association property.
There was a small decline in the number of Scots who rated their neighbourhood as a very good place to live, with this falling from 55.9% in 2011 to 55.2% in 2012. Just 6% of people said the area where they lived was very poor or fairly poor.
While 82% of people questioned said they felt safe walking alone in their local area after dark, 24% of woman and 28% of those aged 75 and over said they felt either very unsafe or a bit unsafe doing this, as did a third of people living in the most deprived areas.
The survey also showed a fall in the number of Scots who smoke.
Last year 22.9% of people described themselves as smokers, down from 30.7% in 1999.
Smoking was still higher in women than in men, with 24% of females and 21% of males lighting up.
Just over a third - 34% - of all households have at least one person with a long-standing illness, health problem or disability, but about three-quarters - 74% - of all adults described their health last year as "good" or "very good".
Last year 63% of people were satisfied with their local health services, schools and public transport - up from 57% in 2007.