A survey by Scottish Widows found 19% had no cash in reserve in 2013, an increase from 17% of respondents the previous year.
The average sum saved by those with less than £50,000 in the bank was £9463, down £610 from 2012.
Many people cited family pressures as the biggest obstacle to saving for the future.
Around 43% said they had loaned "a substantial amount" of money to a relation. A quarter had lent money to their children to cover living expenses, put towards a house deposit or pay off debts.
A fifth of parents and grandparents said they were saving less as a result of lending money to family members, with 8% saying they had to cut back on day-to-day living costs due to family lending.
Scottish Widows savings expert David Lascelles said: "It is concerning that despite economic improvements, the amount that Scottish people are setting aside for a rainy day is actually falling.
"Our research shows that many people are still only thinking in the short term, for instance, almost half of people in Scotland said they prefer to spend their money rather than save.
"This problem is exacerbated by family pressures that eat further into people's savings.
"We need to tackle this culture of short-termism and encourage people to start thinking about protecting themselves for the future."