Hey, Millennials Actually Are No. 1 at Something Financial

For once, this isn't bad news disguised as snark: Millennials actually are way ahead of other generational cohorts in staying on top of their credit scores. That's according to a new survey just released by Discover. The number isn't meaningless either — the more you check your credit score, the more you tend to improve your credit behavior.

More than half of millennials (54 percent) have checked their credit score within the past year, Discover's data show. That beats Gen X (48 percent) and baby boomers (41 percent) by comfortable margins. Since the oldest millennials are now approaching 40 themselves, it makes sense for them to stay on top of credit reporting. Assuming the best, they should be on track to buy a home and make other big, credit-requiring investments.

If you haven't been building credit, whether by going cash-only or relying on debit cards, there's no time like the present to get yourself a solid foundation. While opting out of the credit system entirely might sound tempting, it's a bigger headache for you in the end. You may have heard that checking your FICO score (a credit inquiry) can bump off a few points. It's more that multiple inquiries within a short period of time can signal to a creditor that you're looking to do something risky — don't worry too much about it.

Credit score checks don't have to cost you anything to run. You can monitor your credit for free at authorized websites like AnnualCreditReport.com, which is officially recognized by the Federal Trade Commission. If something fishy does pop up, you can keep your cool on the cost front too: Starting this fall, you'll have access to free credit freezes thanks to a new federal law.