Best way to improve credit and pay off debts?

My husband and I got really far behind on some debts and obviously ruined our credit when he lost his job and was only able to find one making about half what he had been making. He has recently started a new job making better money and my first goals are to improve our credit scores, pay off our debts, and build a savings account. We kept up the payments that we could but others went to collections. Would it reflect better on my credit bureau if I settled with our creditors or if I paid the full balance? What is a good method to pay off debts quickly but also put money in savings? Any suggestions?

Thanks for any and all help.

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