The average working household is less than two weeks' wages from being forced to take government handouts, new figures show.
A survey of more than 5,000 people found that within 11 days of losing their usual sources of income, the average working-age family will be reliant upon state benefits and friends and family alone for financial support.
With over-65s included, the overall average "deadline to the breadline" is still only 26 days.
The study of Britons aged 18-64 by financial services firm Legal & General found UK households reckon they could get by on their savings for 72 days.
But with a third of the population not having any money put away, researchers say this could see a significant number of people on the breadline in the event of a financial disaster.
John Pollock, Legal & General chief executive, said: "It serves as a stark reality check to see that most of us are still in a precarious financial situation - the average working-age family is just 11 days away from the breadline.
"It's crucial that the heads of households understand the importance of making time for financial planning in order to protect their family's lifestyle and financial security. As our economic recovery continues to gather pace, now is the time for all of us to take stock and lay the foundations for long-term financial stability."