We never had it as rough as the kids have it today. Look at the price of a gallon of gas or a piece of real estate or a college education.
If you're saving for the long run, it's actually a good thing when the market is down because the more shares you have, the more you can potentially make when markets rise. And over time - decades, not months - the markets rise more than they fall.
Even if you were to fall into extreme financial hardship and file for bankruptcy, you need to understand that your student loan debt will not be discharged in bankruptcy. It is the Velcro of all debts.
I have always advocated doing everything possible to pay off credit card balances; it's good financial management and the ticket to a strong FICO credit score.