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Budgeting Tips

Searching for Free and Cheap Summer Activities? These 3 Easy-to-Use Apps Will Find Them for You

We found three phone apps that offer low-stress entertainment.


With inflation still sky-high, summer activities need to be low cost. But being on a budget doesn’t have to mean staying home. Instead of skipping summer fun to save money, use your phone to find deals on summer activities in your neighborhood. Though it may give you grief now and then — spam phone calls, I’m talking about you! — your phone and its apps are the gateway to a great summer that doesn’t break the bank. Below are three easy-to-use apps that make finding no-stress, budget-friendly summer activities a cinch.

Rent a pool with Swimply.

Ready to cool off with a swim? Going to the beach might seem like an affordable activity amidst high inflation, but unless the shore is at your property line, it can be a hassle or require an expensive vacation (or both). Frankly, just thinking about it is exhausting. An easy alternative: Swimply.

Often called “Airbnb for pools,” Swimply is a phone app that lets you rent a private pool in your neighborhood by the hour. Some pools (like this saltwater oasis in Houston, Texas) cost as little as $35 an hour for seven guests.

Screenshot of Swimply App, opening page

Many pool owners also offer other amenities that you can use during your rental, such as a grill, lounge area, and outdoor games like corn hole. Our recommendations: Look for a pool rental that allows you to use the host’s restroom. Some hosts don’t allow it. Also, while some hosts allow you to use their floaties, others don’t. Consider bringing your own — we love the Kente’s Cousin tube float from Alma Ocean (Buy from Alma Ocean, $39.99).

Bonus tip: If you own a pool, renting it out on Swimply is a great way to cover the cost of maintenance and more! Learn how you can become a host here.

Take a bird-call stroll with the Merlin Bird ID app.

Love going on walks but want to make it a little more interesting and peaceful? Invite your friends or family to take a “bird-call stroll.”

To do: First download the Cornell University app Merlin Bird ID. Click on the top left icon to open the menu, then click “Bird Packs.” Search for your area (such as the “US: Northeast” or “US and Canada: Continental”) and download the bird pack for your area.

3 screenshots of Merlin Bird ID app explaining how to download a Bird Pack
The Cornell Lab

Then, take a leisurely walk through the woods or a nature area and open the app. On the main page, click “Sound ID.” Press the big green button to record. The app will listen for bird songs and calls and identify the birds that you hear while you stroll. This activity is an excellent way to not just boost your physical activity, but also exercise your brain. (After identifying bird calls, see if you can remember which calls go with which birds on your next bird-call stroll!)

Find local low- and no-cost entertainment with Eventbrite.

Finding budget-friendly entertainment in your area is as simple as downloading an app. The app is called Eventbrite, and it’s easy to use.

When you open the app, a screen appears that says “Choose your location.” Type in your town and state, then click on the correct location from the choices that appear. The app will load all the events happening in your area this month.

Screenshot of Eventbrite app, opening page

Eventbrite will also tell you which events are free and which have a fee. For instance, farmer’s markets and certain outdoor concerts are free, while art galleries and food festivals may charge a cover fee.

With a little help from your phone, you can find plenty of ways to enjoy summer’s end with your friends and family — and without cleaning out your wallet.

First For Women aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission.
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