To make something a habit, you should do it for a solid three months.
You only need 30 days to live a debt-free life.
I know what it's like it avoid collector phone calls and not open bills in the mail. Within 30 days, you can do the following:
1. Open ever bill that is unopened.
2. Hole punch each bill and place them in one large binder. This will be your finance binder. Get organized!
3. Sort each bill by 1) company and then 2) date due with the most recent in front.
4. Draft a letter to each creditor. There are hundreds of sample letters (templates) available online. I used the template in one of Suze Orman's books, which I borrowed from the library. The most important elements to any letter: your name, address, phone number, account number, signature, and amount you are willing to pay each month.
5. Include a "good faith" check or money order with the letter when you send it. Make sure to mail it from the post office with a confirmation request. This will cost $2 to $3.
6. Photo copy the letter before you end it. Place the letter copy in front of the creditor section in your binder.
7. Wait for a response from the creditor.
8. Always answer your phone and return the calls. The reps make notes in your account each time they speak with you. They are less likely to sell your account to another company if they are able to stay in contact with you, and you make some kind of payment.
9. Be honest. To yourself and the creditor reps.
10. Relax. This will be paid in time. Be patient and consistent.