One million people across Ireland are struggling to make ends meet, a report shows.
Those aged between 35 and 54 are the most financially stressed and most pessimistic about their future, according to the survey.
In contrast, people aged 65 and over are "faring much better" and the most likely to say they are living comfortably.
The study was carried out by pollsters Red C for insurer Aviva.
It found 35 to 54-year-olds, who bore the brunt of the economic crash through job losses, pay cuts and high mortgages, remain downbeat about their prospects.
"This key group is experiencing a financial mid-life crisis as they juggle their responsibilities and liabilities to keep their heads above water," said Ann O'Keeffe of Aviva.
"Two in three of them see no immediate prospect of their income improving and many of them will have to find a way of funding their retirement."
One in three in the squeezed middle are struggling to meet bills, with creche fees, children's education costs and mortgage repayments central to their financial woes.
The Ireland Family Finances report also found 44% of those aged over 65 say they are living comfortably.
Of those, more than half are optimistic that their lives will improve financially over the next six months.
Younger people under the age of 34 have the most positive outlook, with 44% also expecting their income and employment prospects to improve.
"Our findings tell a tale of two recoveries: those who are feeling the upswing in their own finances and those who continue to struggle," said Ms O'Keeffe.
"Worryingly, 70% of the one million who are struggling see no prospect of improvement in their circumstances.
"On the upside, 1.5 million are optimistic about their future."
Asked to describe their current financial circumstances, 28% of people in Ireland say they are struggling; 27% say they are living comfortably; and 45% say they are getting by financially.
The research was carried out between April 26 and May 3.