Shopping for swimwear is not my favorite thing to do. For starters, I feel like my wallet is drowning from the get-go (i.e., why exactly IS that tiny scrap of fabric so expensive?!).

Also, I hate trying swimwear on—I have to say it. There are a lot more frogs than princes in my swimsuit universe. But when I finally do find that perfect, magical suit—the one that fits me like couture for a price that makes me smile—it’s all worth it.

Use these nine tips to help you find the right price on the perfect swimwear this season!

1. Shop early or late in the season.

Retailers are most eager to move swimwear early (when racks are uncomfortably full) and late (when fall inventory is arriving).

You’ll find the best deals shopping during these days and times:

  • Sundays: Save 50% or more on swimwear just by shopping on a Sunday!
  • April-May: By the start of June, prices will jump.
  • August-September: Summer is over and racks need to clear ASAP.

2. Forget about name brands.

Unless you’re prepared to treat your swimsuit with kid gloves—don't pay extra just for a brand name, unless it’s a suit you adore and plan to wear for multiple seasons.

Good generics to consider:

  • Target: Great mix-and-match separates with extra Target savings for the whole family.
  • ASOS: The ASOS outlet can score you deals on quality suits up to 70% off.
  • Delia's: A great choice for affordable teen swimsuits.
  • Forever 21: Now they have a cute new plus-size swimwear line for teens and adults.
  • 6pm: Save up to 75% by shopping online.

3. A few minor alterations can fix a potentially great bargain suit.

The most common suit complaints focus on fit and coverage. Buying separates can solve some of these issues.

Home alterations like these can often solve the rest:

  • Straps too short or long? A few stitches can fix the latter; replace them to solve the former problem (last year's suit, your stash of bras, or a strap kit at the local drugstore can easily fix this).
  • Not enough chest padding? Sew or slip in a couple of little bra pads (take them from last year's suit before you toss it).
  • Suit cutting off your air supply? Here, experts recommend going up one size from what you typically wear—swimsuits often run small.

4. Opt for basic colors and suit design.

Basic dark or light colors can be easier to color-protect than fashion colors-of-the-moment (hot pink, neon green?) or mixed color palettes.

As well, those fancy little "extras" that drive up a suit's price (i.e., chain link straps, big knots and bows, bling, etc.) may not be so functional or comfy once you start wearing the suit to swim, play with your kids, and relax. Before you buy, try sitting, laying down, leaning forward, and other common pool-side moves, and see how the suit responds.

5. Trends are not your budget's best friend.

In the same way, shopping this year's must-have trend is a good way to put yourself in the market for a new suit every year.

Following some basic care guidelines (i.e., minimizing the effects of chlorine and UV on fabric and color) can easily turn a one-year suit into a two-year suit…so long as you’re still comfortable wearing it out in public!

6. Be leery of factory outlets for swimsuits.

This may sound incredibly counter-intuitive, but when it comes to overstock, often there is a reason the swimsuits didn't sell the first time around. It may be because they run small or large, they aren't cut or stitched well, they don't have padding (or have too much), they ride up…the potential reasons are endless (and mostly horrifying when you consider a swimsuit that does fit well is about as naked as any of us can legally get in public!). So unless you’re SURE, best to shop discount mainstream retailers for your swimwear instead.

7. Shop the edges of the store.

All boutiques and many mainstream retailers tend to place the priciest inventory in the middle of the store. If you remind yourself to shop around the edges first—that’s where the sale and clearance racks, as well as the budget/generic labels, will most likely be located.

8. Don't forget about thrift shops.

Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, and local consignment stores are carrying more swimwear—I've seen some really nice pieces for just a few bucks lately! As well, if you plan to pair athletic tops and water shorts instead of buying a swimsuit (a new trend today), you can find really cheap name brands by shopping thrift.

9. Remember the difference between "good deal" and "free."

Sure it can feel great to score a huge discount. But you’re still shelling out hard-earned cash, so be sure you LOVE it.

For me (for what it's worth), I can tell whether I really love something by my emotions. If I'm in my head trying to talk myself into a purchase, using words like "sensible," and "close to what I really want," it's best to pass. But if my heart and gut leaps when I see it, I should seriously consider whether this suit is "the one."