Take lawyer. Sue company.
It is illegal to cut a paycheck and not pay on a contract - the notification may already constitute fraud.
They can let you go and offer you a another contract for less money. For that they FIRST have to terminate your contract lawfully, which means in proper wording and according to the law (which in the US may mean "now", in other civilized countries can mean within a month or two). But unless they do that you have a right to fullfillment of the contract.
I'm your typical 25 year old that lives life and every paycheck to the fullest
and I'm not prepared to take the cu
Then you are an idiot, sorry. FIrst, as a responsible male you should have reserves and be saving first - not "build a house" style, but "Have 3-6 months reserves on the account". I hear most people in the US Live "check to mouth" so to say - but you are in a high income professiona and having some reserves is a must. Especially if you should live in the US where the social network seems to be hardly existent by standards in most of the civilized world.
But the second thing is total bullshit. You either agree or they let you go (according to the law). Who cares what you are prepared to accept if you are not in a position to enforce it?
BEST you could do is accept it, then look for another job.
But you are always in a position to agree or disagree. It is called "Taking a lawyer" or "walking away". You can terminate. Saying you have no choice would put you into the position of a slave - and sorry, even he has a choice.
OR: are they just asking you to wait for time for the other 50%? In that case I would like a personal liability note by all management ;) But there still is the other issue...
I would like to hear what the startup owners would have to say if they were in
the position of my boss
Either your boss is an idiot, or there are sides we do not see. See, what I do not like here is the "I was just told". No clue the startup is running out of money? As a boss he just lost all credibility. Been in the same position once or twice, just folded the company.
I personally would start walking. Not so much for the money, but either you were ignorant (i.e. ignoring all the talks - then it is your fault), or they kept that hidden, and in that case - sorry - zero trust left to actually provide me with income. You do not run out of money overnight all of a sudden.