23% of people in the UK - around 11 million people - are only just about managing to 'break even' at the end of each month, according to new research by uSwitch.com.
As a result, many people are left with no money in their monthly budget to cover any unavoidable costs, such as emergency boiler repairs or an unexpected bill - leaving them at risk of financial difficulties.
Furthermore, 7% of consumers spend more money per month than they actually earn. In order to make up for this shortfall, 37% are relying on overdrafts, 28% are using savings and 23% are covering costs using a credit card. But despite people borrowing an average of £1,950 (not including their mortgage) to plug the gap in their budget, only just over a quarter (26%) have managed to repay the total they owe.
The findings indicate that overall, 39% of people in the UK are cutting back on essential costs in order to make ends meet. Nearly three in ten (28%) have reduced the amount they spend on food and almost a fifth (19%) have cut back on fuel.
Along with cutting back on essentials, people are turning to other money-saving measures too. 22% have started taking a packed lunch to work rather than buying a meal. 16% have started selling some of their personal belongings to raise extra cash, while 13% have taken on extra work to increase their earnings.
Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said: "When it comes to balancing the books, we are treading a fine line. It will only take an unexpected price hike or emergency at home to push us over the edge and into the debt spiral."
A spokesperson for thinkmoney commented: "It's clear that many people across the UK are struggling to afford all their monthly costs. It's therefore vital that people can keep track of all their monthly expenses and make sure all the bills are paid on time before anything else. The good news is there are ways you can help to improve the way you budget.
"The thinkmoney Personal Account could help you make sure all your bills and other important costs are covered from month to month. It's an alternative to a high street bank account that comes with a Money Manager service, which means all the bills you tell us about will be paid automatically every month. Furthermore, you won't have to worry about going over-budget, as the money you need for your essentials will be separated from your 'spending money'."