Modern life is hectic enough. Divorce makes it even more complicated. A family organization app can turn your out-of-control existence into an orderly, well-planned life.
Cozi is one of the top-reviewed and most-used family organization apps on the market. According to its website, more than 20 million people currently use this free app Cozi.
Download Cozi now for free, or keep reading to learn more …
What is Cozi Family Organizer?
Cozi is a family organization app focusing on a shared calendar and an innovative list-making function that can be tailored to just about any use, for any family. Cozi is not specifically designed for separated families, but many divorced families do use it. The app been around since 2006, and it's 100% free.
(There's a premium version, with more features, and it doesn't cost much. But focus on that “free” part for a minute, especially if your post-divorce finances are still in recovery.)
Cozi lets up to a dozen people share (and add to) your family’s calendar, which gives an at-a-glance description of your day. Never again will you forget a birthday, miss a special event or accidentally double-book your kids (or yourself). Grandparents can check the dates for soccer games or the school band concert. Add a babysitter or nanny to your Cozi account to keep everyone organized.
You can set up e-reminders to get you and your ex to the parent-teacher conference on time.
In addition to a shared calendar, Cozi lets you create custom lists to make sure everything gets done: chores, homework, shopping, party or vacation planning, and even remembering to take advantage of seasonal produce.
Cozi has a “list library” of prefab planners. If you can’t find one that matches a particular need, just create a list and call it whatever you like: “Books That I Swear I’ll Read This Year,” say, or “What Needs to Get Done Before Summer Camp Rolls Around.”
Unlike products like Fayr, Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents, Cozi is not a co-parenting app per se.
Its basic features, such as the shared calendar and appointment reminders, do lend themselves to co-parenting situations. However, it doesn’t have features like in-app communication, expense tracking, and time-stamped documentation of drop-offs and pick-ups.
If you and your ex are getting along and communicating via text works for the two of you, then maybe all you need is a calendar you can share with each other, other adults and the kids themselves (once they’re old enough). In that case, Cozi app could work just fine.
And if you’re not getting along? Only you can judge whether it’s a good idea to provide a contentious ex access to your household’s daily schedule. You might also want those co-parenting app features like time-stamped documentation and the ability to account for every dime you spend on your kids.
Whether or not you loop in your ex, Cozi is a great family organization app because it helps you:
Tame the chaos. Used correctly, Cozi lets you take charge of your life. You won’t miss appointments, forget to buy milk and bread, or accidentally create scheduling conflicts (kiddo can’t see the dentist if she’s at a softball clinic that day). And unlike a co-parenting app, Cozi has specific features to keep your household running smoothly.
Get ahead of things. The list library offers step-by-step guidance for things like chores, budgeting, meal planning, vacation prep and making mornings less stressful. (Hint: Some lists are designed specifically for kids.)
Keep everyone informed. A family organization app is not just for “real” family like your folks, aunts and uncles and grandparents. It can also be a vital tool for people who care for your children either literally (nanny, babysitter) or figuratively (your BFF who’s an adored “auntie” to your kids).
Cozi Family Organizer co-parenting app features
The free version of the app provides features such as:
- Shared family calendar, which can communicate with Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, Apple Calendar and other programs
- List-making options – use their prefab “list library,” or customize lists that meet your household’s needs
- “Family Journal,” a place to share photos and captions of things that made you smile (these can be shared with others)
- An appointment reminder function
The paid version, “Cozi Gold,” costs $29 per year, and includes all that plus:
- No ads!
- Up to three reminders per appointment, which can save you some dough (no need to pay for that doctor’s visit you missed) as well as time (not having to wait an extra two weeks for a rescheduled appointment).
- View the whole month’s calendar on one screen, or adjust it to see what’s in store for busy weekends.
- Calendar change notifications: If you cancel an event or just wrote down the wrong time and need to change it, everyone will be informed
- Shopping mode: When you check items off your grocery list, they drop to the end of the list
- Calendar search: This feature lets you find anything you’ve ever put onto your family’s calendar.
- A family address book to keep everyone’s contact info handy
- Birthday tracker: Keep everyone’s birthday handy, too
- Premium customer support, which means if you ever need help with the app your e-mail will be answered ahead of those sent by non-premium members
Cozi’s shared calendar should of course include the days and times you drop off/pick up the children. Other special activities or events – going trick-or-treating, attending a parent-teacher conference – could also be added.
Again, Cozi does not have an in-app communication system. You and your ex will have to use text, e-mail or phone to discuss any co-parenting issues that pop up.
Parents who check Cozi regularly won’t miss minor or major events in their kids’ lives. They won’t accept a work assignment or dinner invitation on the fly, only to find out that it’s the same night as the school talent show.
Even the set-in-stone aspects of co-parenting (which days at whose home, or agreed-upon holiday sharing schedule) may need some tweaking. Suppose you need a medical procedure and the first available appointment is two months away – and checking Cozi, you see that’s during “your” week. So you quickly text your ex to arrange a custody swap, then accept the appointment.
Things are much more likely to get done if they’re written down and/or assigned to a specific person. These can be big-ticket items such as spring cleaning or vacation planning, or simple chores like “empty dishwasher” and “put your backpack where no one will trip over it.”
That’s why Cozi has a “list library” that could make your household run more smoothly. A couple of the cooler ones:
Kids’ Checklist – Disorganization causes a lot of arguments and hurt feelings. Help your kids take charge of their days with to-do lists for Night Before School, School Morning Routine and After School. There’s also a morning and evening checklist just for summer, and a spring cleaning chore list.
FlyLady Cleaning List – Maybe you’re already familiar with the FlyLady, who blogs and does YouTube videos about cleaning and home organization. If not, let Cozi introduce you. These lists divide your home into five distinct zones and give simple, actionable tips on getting the place clean and keeping it that way.
Not everyone has the time (or the inclination!) to cook every meal from scratch. However, food is one of the budget categories with the most wiggle room – and let’s face it, a lot of takeout is loaded with fat, salt and sugar. If you could cook even one-third of your family’s meals, you’ll save both money and empty calories.
Cozi has two features designed to help you get healthy meals on the table faster. First, search your favorite recipe site(s) for quick-fix possibilities. Next, use Cozi’s “Recipe Box” feature to import the recipe for that yummy-looking quinoa salad or the Easy Chicken Pad Thai. Now you can call the recipes up any time, whether you’re at home or sharing a beach house for the week.
Or at the supermarket: The Recipe Box feature lets you add the ingredients you’ll need to a grocery list. If you own an Amazon Echo or Alexa product, you can ask the device to update, either for a recipe or just restocking staples: “Alexa, add peanut butter and yogurt to my grocery list.”
You can also use the Recipe Box to plan a week’s worth of meals at a time, and buy all the ingredients at once. Bonus: If your kids are old enough to use the app, they’ll already know what’s for dinner and won’t keep asking you.
Another useful feature: When you call up a recipe and start chopping and mixing, the app’s “Cooking Mode” keeps the screen open. That’s a good thing, because you won’t have to use your marinade-sticky fingers to power the device back up.
School supplies list
Your kid’s school might send home a supply list, or post one on its website. But it doesn’t hurt to have Cozi’s list as a head start. That way you can stock up when you see this stuff on sale. (Those big office supply stores have crazy-cheap specials starting in late summer.)
Cozi provides lists for four age groups, including kindergarten/preschool. And if your school wants you to supply something that’s not mentioned? You can edit the list any way you like.
Lists for packing
When you’re preparing to hit the road, things can get pretty hectic. It’s easy to space out things like pajamas or extra bands for your kiddo’s braces. (True story: I once forgot to pack underwear. Only once, though.) Replacing these things once you get to where you’re going is an expense you don’t need.
The Cozi lists for packing includes obvious stuff like jackets and toiletries (and underwear) but also items you might forget to grab, such as contact lens solution, razor, tampons (sometimes your body surprises you!), pain relievers and an umbrella.
And speaking of packing…
The app’s “Vacation Planning Checklist” reminds you to do stuff like create a travel budget (rather than just spend willy-nilly), look for good travel package deals, put a hold on mail delivery, line up a pet sitter and – oh yeah! – ask for the time off from work so you can go.
Another option, the “Family Camping Checklist,” includes essentials most people would think of on their own. But you might not think about super-useful things like a cutting board, aluminum foil, plastic bags or an extra bin for washing dishes – until you need them.
Even otherwise intelligent people sometimes forget the obvious stuff, such as trashbags or matches to light the campfire. (Another true story: A friend who grew up in the great outdoors once forgot the can opener while camping as an adult. Whoops.) Having a prefab list that specifies “soap” and “insect repellant” will make your camping trip a lot more pleasant.
Who would benefit from using Cozi Family Organizer?
Anyone who wants to keep their households running smoothly would benefit from using Cozi. The home organization app can help you keep it all together not just in the short term (Do we need cereal?) but also the long run (This year we WILL have a less-stressful Christmas).
How to use the Cozi Family Organizer co-parenting app
You create an account on Cozi to download the app, which is automatically the free version. After the account is up and running, you access it through MyCozi.com.
If you’d like the no-ads version you can upgrade to Cozi Gold, which works on iOS or Android. The current versions of Chrome, Internet Explorer (11), Firefox, Edge and Safari are recommended. For smartphone, Cozi needs iOS8 or higher, or Android 2.1 or higher.
Note: There’s a free two-week trial of Cozi Gold, so you can try before you buy.
All members use the same password, since Cozi was meant to be a fully shared account. This means that anyone involved can see – and edit or delete – any data in the Cozi account. If there’s someone who you don’t want seeing everything going on in your life, then don’t give this person access.
Cozi Family Organizer app pros
Calendar keeps appointments and activities organized, and can be synced with other apps like iCal and Google Calendar
You can add in other family members or people important to your kid’s life
There’s a free version
Free two-week trial of the premium version
Cozi Family Organizer app cons
The free version has ads (minor annoyance, but still)
No in-app communication system, expense tracking or other features commonly associated with co-parenting apps
No virtual “vault” to store important documents such as birth certificates, insurance card or vaccination records; you can, however, upload these things to the Family Journal section
Cozi Family Organizer cost
It doesn't have to cost anything, since there’s a free version. This one has ads, but that’s how the company can afford to give away its product.
The premium version of Cozi costs $29.99 per year, or about $2.50 a month. It should pay for itself easily in terms of “no more paying fees for missed appointments” or “no more stopping at the convenience store for something you forgot to buy at the supermarket.”
Other apps for co-parenting and family organization
As noted, Cozi isn’t specifically a co-parenting app. If you need more features than Cozi has to offer, here are a few other possibilities.
Our Family Wizard
This is one of the first-ever apps for co-parenting. Depending on your situation, some of its features could be a huge help. For example, the “Tone Meter” follows along as you write to your ex and points out “emotionally charged phrases” that you might not be aware you’re using. It also lets you store and/or share family info and financial records.
Our Family Wizard also keeps track of how you spend time and money, with a monthly overview of the number of messages you sent or received, how much money you spent (or were reimbursed for spending), and how much time the kids spent with each parent.
The app costs $99 per year per parent, although relatives, nannies/sitters and the kids themselves can be added for free. Parents can individually add others to the mix, including mediators and attorneys. Try Our Family Wizard for free for 30 days. Discounts for military families, as well as fee waivers for those who qualify for financial reasons. Check out OurFamilyWizard now >>
TalkingParents costs $5.99 to $9.99 per month per parent for iOS and Android, but it also has a free website version if you’re on a budget. (The website has ads.)
The free and paid versions both have shared calendar, a personal journal and a messaging function. The paid version has additional features, like file storage and unlimited downloading of the journal and your conversations. These functions can be important when it comes to meditation or court appearances.
The bottom line
A family organization app can completely change your life. Instead of having to remember every important detail each week (let alone three months from now), you can just put it in Cozi’s hands. Knowing it’s all written down lets you relax a bit and enjoy your life.
In addition, Cozi’s lists will let you organize numerous aspects of your life, from planning a birthday party to what you’ll need for next summer’s vacation. Bonus: Since some of the lists are designed for kids, your children can start taking (age-appropriate) responsibility for their lives.
In short: Cozi can’t remove the stressors from modern family life, but it sure can keep them organized. Download Cozi now for free >>
Longtime personal finance journalist Donna Freedman created the Smart Spending blog for MSN Money and has written for dozens of other publications, including The New York Times Review of Books, NerdWallet, Magnify Money, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Vox, Get Rich Slowly, All You, The Simple Dollar, the Chicago Tribune and Wise Bread. Her work has won regional and national awards. She is a member of Mensa, but people are much more impressed by the fact that she was once on the game show “Jeopardy!” Donna lives and writes in Anchorage, Alaska.