Don't Bother Aiming for a Perfect Credit Score

We live in a world that lionizes perfect scores — thanks, standardized testing. Once you're done with school, there are vanishingly few to shoot for. What remains is your credit score, that three-digit metric of your financial reliability. It may seem like an admirable target, especially given that only about 1.4 percent of American consumers achieve it. Improving your credit is always worthy, but trying for 850 is probably a waste of time.

HuffPost recently tracked down one of these perfect-credit unicorns: She works in the financial industry, never misses a payment, and maintains a very low credit utilization rate. Beyond that, it's actually kind of a mystery how consumers achieve a perfect credit score, except for one thing most millennials can't help: a very long credit history. Time is often the secret ingredient to creeping toward the top echelons of FICO. The oldest millennials are approaching 40, but most are still early or middling in their careers.

We're up against a lot when it comes to credit scores: Significant portions of us are scared we spend too much on credit, and the massive debt we collectively hold on credit cards has psychic as well as physical costs for all of us. Opting out of the credit system isn't really an option, but at least we're starting to see institutional ways out of trouble. Some creditors are offering ways to boost your credit score, including through rewarding responsible money skills. A zero-interest credit card could help reduce debt, and just making a plan to cut down on a debt is a huge sign that you're likely to do so.

The bragging rights to an 850 credit score are probably nice, but you can make a great life for yourself just by checking in and keeping up the climb.