The New Normal: Mortgage Meltdown

"The idea that you only buy what you can pay for, and then you don't have to ... worry about it anymore," Warren said of the goal. "I think that's becoming a lot more attractive for American families. I'm hopeful that'll be the new normal."

Andrews takes full responsibility for his situation, but he does think people should think twice before raining down judgment. "I'm not a victim ... [but] I really do think that many people were steered and duped into things that shouldn't have been," he said.

Today, they are living their new normal. They no longer use credit cards. They drive a 10-year-old Toyota in need of repair, hoping to make the car last a bit longer. Barreiro's young daughter has had to give up her ballet lessons. And her husband has had to have some hard conversations with his college-aged son.

"He is now preparing to borrow $5,000 a year to cover his costs," Ed Andrews said of his son.

Perhaps the biggest change is the realization that they will lose their dream home. Barreiro has begun to look at rentals in the neighborhood in preparation for that day.

She said she is actually looking forward to the future and what it has in store for her family.

"We don't want to take a gamble on our marriage anymore. ... We want to live a real life ... an authentic life without any fantasy in it," she said. "That would be good enough for me."

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