Q: My company didn't pay year-end bonuses. What can I do?
A:
You’re not alone. Two-thirds of U.S. companies offer some form of variable compensation. Now that businesses are retrenching, bonuses are getting the knife. A recent Andersen survey showed that 22 percent of companies had decided not to pay bonuses this year, and another 22 percent said bonuses would be less than a quarter of employees’ target amount.

So what can you do without that chunk of change?

Take action. “The company is not going to take care of you. So you have to take care of yourself,” says Patricia Powell, a certified financial planner with The Powell Financial Group.

First, Powell says, cut back on expenses as soon as you find out you’re not getting a bonus. Obviously you can’t immediately break the lease on your Mercedes, so focus on other costs that aren’t locked in, such as dining out, entertainment, and personal services.

Second, call your mortgage company. Thanks to the Fed, rates are low, and refinancing could save you hundreds every month.

Third, put away the credit cards. While it’s tempting to rely on them to help you keep up your lifestyle through a rough patch, it’s financially dangerous. Balances can easily mount up if reduced income forces you to cut back your payments.

Fourth, if you haven’t already, start setting aside cash reserves, just in case.

Meanwhile, take heart! Just as what goes up must come down, what goes down must cycle back upward again.