Half of those who have savings let their money sit in bank and credit union accounts, earning little or no interest.
Its means that many may be missing out on better returns by putting money into investment products.
But large numbers say that they do not understand any investments, according to a survey commissioned by the pension and investment company Aviva.
Around €147 billion in household savings are deposited in banks and credit unions, separate central bank figures show.
The Aviva survey found that one in four women said they would be “too worried” to invest their money, so take a safety-first approach to leaving the money on deposit.
Between men and women, a quarter of people said that they do not really understand what is meant by an investment.
A majority of people would need to have a rainy day fund saved before they would consider investing their savings.
The survey of 1,000 adults across the country, conducted by iReach Insights, examined consumers’ attitudes to their savings and diversifying into some form of stock market-linked investments.
It found only 17 percent of respondents said they would seek financial advice before investing.
Aviva’s Eoin Kennedy said: “The survey findings confirm that Irish people are mostly conservative with their nest eggs, with 50% of people saying all their savings are in deposit accounts.
“However, if we delve deeper into this, the reasons behind this conservatism become clear, with almost one in four of those surveyed saying they do not know what investments are.
“This in turn indicates a lack of understanding of all the options available to them, some of which may well provide a better return.”
Mr Kennedy said the findings suggest people need more information and guidance around investments, as well as being informed about the options open to them when it comes to their savings.
“The perception of investing to be the preserve of the rich is simply wrong,” he said.
Mr. Kennedy says that a poor understanding of investments related to the stock market is likely to discourage people from looking for a better return on their savings.
He added that financial advice is crucial when it comes to investing, especially for those who have no experience or understanding of investing.
The survey found that women are more inclined to worry about putting their money into investments than men. Around 29 percent of women say they don’t have a strong grasp of investments compared to 17 percent of men.
A fear of losing money is one of the main reasons behind the reluctance to invest, with more than one in five saying they would be too worried about losing money if they were to invest in shares through an investment fund.
The survey highlighted the importance of a rainy-day fund – money set aside to help deal with unforeseen emergencies or problems.
Almost 60% of respondents to the survey said they would need to have a rainy day fund of between three months to one year’s income before they would consider seeking to diversify into the stock market or other forms of investments.